On Sunday, a Somali appeals court overturned the conviction of an alleged rape survivor who accused security forces of raping her in August 2012. A journalist who had interviewed the woman but never published a story about the allegations had his sentenced reduced, but was not cleared of the charges against him. Both the woman and journalist had been originally sentenced to one year in prison each for offending the honor of a State institution. The journalist was also convicted of filing a false report even though he never published a story on the case.
Zainab Hawa Bangura, U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said in a statement "The overturned verdict and release of the woman who had the courage to come forward reflects the fact that victims of sexual violence should not be criminalized for reporting this crime... I ask survivors of rape not to be deterred, and to always seek justice."
The U.S. Department of State also released a statement on the overturned conviction. Patrick Ventrell, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department, said in the statement, "The United States welcomes the Mogadishu appeals court's March 3 decision to overturn the conviction of a 27-year-old alleged rape survivor but is profoundly disappointed by the same court's decision to uphold the conviction of journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim who interviewed her... Sexual violence and restrictions on freedom of expression are grave problems in Somalia...Somali institutions must demonstrate the will to protect human rights, including women's rights and freedom of expression as part of their efforts to promote peace and democracy."
Media Resources: UN News Centre 3/5/2013; LA Times 3/4/2013; US State Department 3/4/2013; Feminist Newswire 2/7/2013
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. . . .