Bangladesh High Court Orders Protection for Flogged Rape Victim
Bangladesh's high court ordered local authorities to find and protect a 16-year-old girl who received 101 lashes last month as punishment for becoming pregnant after she was raped last year. According to CNS News, the high court ruled in August that authorities must investigate punishments carried out outside of the judicial system after locally-issued fatwas resulted in several women being flogged, including "one who spoke to a man from a different community, another who filed a rape complaint, and a third who refused sexual advances made by a relative."
In the current case, the girl was sentenced by village leaders to 101 lashes and her father was fined and warned that their family would be isolated if they refused to pay, according to The Daily Star. The girl reportedly was flogged on January 17th and collapsed and fainted during the beating.
The rape was discovered only after the girl was found to be seven months pregnant one month after being married off to a man from a neighboring village. The girl is now divorced and obtained an abortion. Her rapist, Enamul Mia of neighboring village Gabbari, was pardoned by the village council.
Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman of the Asian Human Rights Commission told CNS News that instances of village justice "becomes possible in [a] country where the basic rule-of-law institutions are completely dysfunctional and reluctant to provide justice to the ordinary people." He also said that "shari'a provisions (fatwas) are being abused to facilitate the influential persons to do injustice to the poor and vulnerable groups, especially the women, in order to retain or increase their so-called power."
Media Resources: CNS News 1/27/10; Daily Star 1/24/10
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. . . .