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over the bill led Progressive Liberal Party Senate Leader Allyson Maynard-Gibson to propose last week that the bill be withdrawn until an in-depth study about domestic violence can be conducted, reports the Nassau Guardian.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
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .