Malaysia's Islamic Courts Appoint First Women Judges
Malaysia's Islamic courts appointed their first two women judges today. Suraya Ramli has been appointed as a Sharia judge in the administrative capital city of Putrajaya and Rafidah Abdul Razak has been appointed in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Ramli and Razak were officials in the nation's Islamic Judicial Department prior to their appointments today.
These appointments are part of the Malaysian king's goal to address the gender imbalance in the country's Islamic Sharia judiciary, according to Agence France-Presse. In Malaysia, religious Islamic courts run parallel to the nation's civil courts. Many judges in the nation's civil courts are women.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who announced the appointments in May, stated, "The appointments were made to enhance justice in cases involving families and women's rights and to meet current needs." Women in Malaysia have reportedly faced discrimination in the country's Islamic courts in cases involving divorce, polygamy, inheritance, and child abuse, according to the Associated Press.
According to the 2008 Global Gender Gap Index, Malaysia ranks 96th among nations in terms of gender equity. The Muslim group Sister in Islam has lobbied for women to be appointed to the Islamic Courts for more than a decade. Malaysia's women, family and community development minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil announced this move will be followed by more efforts towards "an equal representation of men and women in decision-making positions". She continued, "Now we must maintain the momentum of such progress."
Media Resources: Agence France-Presse 7/8/10; The Global Gender Gap Report 2008; Associated Press 7/8/10
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. . . .