Bahamas Proposal to Ban Marital Rape Sparks Controversy
A bill in the Bahamian legislature that would criminalize marital rape has sparked public debate. The lawmaker who drafted the bill, Minister of State for Social Development Loretta Butler-Turner, says the bill would combat attitudes about spousal relationships that leave women vulnerable to abuse, reports the Associated Press. Currently, charges of rape can only be brought against a spouse if the couple is legally separated or in the process of getting a divorce, according to the Nassau Guardian.
The bill has ignited debate among the public during government-organized forums and on radio talk shows. Many say they are opposed to the measure because it contradicts their Christian values or because they believe it will lead to women filing false charges against their husbands, reports the Associated Press. One of the most vocal religious leaders in opposition to the bill, Senior Pastor of the Kingdom Life Church Cedric Moss, has said that sexual violence within marriage should not be called rape and should be addressed with lesser penalties than non-marital rape, according to the Nassau Guardian.
The extent of controversy over the bill led Progressive Liberal Party Senate Leader Allyson Maynard-Gibson to propose last week that the bill be withdrawn until an in-depth study about domestic violence can be conducted, reports the Nassau Guardian. She suggested that evaluation of the bill be "removed from the political arena and be conducted by nationally and internationally respected experts" in the legal, religious and medical fields. She also called for several sweeping changes in how rapes are prosecuted, including the creation of a new family court system to try domestic violence charges.
Sandra Dean-Patterson, director of a nonprofit that aides abuse victims continues to speak out in support of the bill. She told the Associated Press that the bill "says that our nation will no longer condone violence in the family. If you have to force your husband or your wife to be sexual, something is wrong with the relationship."
Media Resources: Associated Press 8/16/09; Nassau Guardian 8/12/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .