A French parliamentary committee released a nearly 200 page report yesterday that recommends banning face veils in certain public spaces, including on public transportation and at schools, hospitals, and government offices. According to the New York Times, only 14 members of the 32 member committee voted, eight in favor of the report and six against.
According to the BBC, the report said that "the wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess." As the commission delivered the report, National Assembly President Bernard Accoyer said, "The full veil represents in an extraordinary way everything that France spontaneously rejects...It's a symbol of the subjugation of women and the banner of extremist fundamentalism," according to Reuters. Those who oppose the ban criticize it as xenophobic. Jamel Debbouze, a French comedian with Moroccan ancestry, told a radio station that, "people who go down that path [of the ban] are racists."
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his opposition to the burqa, the head-to-toe garment worn by some Islamic women In a speech to a joint session of the French Parliament in June 2009. In this speech, he said "The burqa is not welcome in French territory...In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," reported the Wall Street Journal. This speech, the first presidential address to the legislature in over a century, urged the Parliament to examine the practice of Muslim women in France wearing the burqa. In 2004 the French Parliament passed a law banning students from wearing veils and other religious symbols in public schools.
It is estimated that only about 1,900 women in France wear the full veils that are the subject of the report.
Media Resources: BBC 1/26/10; New York Times 1/26/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/23/09
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. . . .