In countries throughout the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Brazil, women and girls are routinely killed by family members who believe that they have violated the family's honor in some way.
Most often, women are thought to violate their family's honor by losing their virginity. A girl or woman who has been accused of losing her virginity is often sent to a doctor who will then speculate as to whether she may have engaged in sexual activity. Jordanian pathologist Dr. Mu'Men Hadidi reported that about 80% of the women he has performed autopsies on were killed soon after undergoing a virginity test.
Since women are often blamed for "inviting" or "seducing" men to rape them, even incest victims are blamed for tarnishing their family's honor and killed. In cases where a woman's "guilt or innocence" cannot be established, families assume that they are guilty.
In Jordan, these "honor killings" make up 25% of the country's total murder rate. Journalist Rana Husseini , Queen Noor, and women's groups are fighting to end these brutal murders. Jordan Times writer Husseini has devoted her career to writing about honor killings, despite resistance from the public and editors who argue that her work is sullying Jordan's reputation.
When Husseini interviewed a man that murdered his sister after she had been raped, the brother showed no remorse, and compared his sister to a "bad apple" that could ruin his entire family. Husseini also spoke to the family of a girl who was murdered by her brother after another brother had raped her. The family told her that the slain daughter had "seduced" her brother into raping her. "And this is when I realized that, really, this society tends to blame women for everything...I decided that I wanted to do something about it."
Husseini noted that those convicted of "honor killings" often face very short prison sentences of anywhere from 3 months to a year. Currently, Jordanian law puts honor killings in a separate category from other murders, and Jordan's Queen Noor is trying to change that by publicly voicing her opposition. She noted that the laws are currently under review and noted that they are "not consistent with Islam or with our constitution."
Jordanian Women's Union has established a hotline and a counseling center for women in danger. Jordan's police department formed a domestic violence unit last year, but since there are no shelters for endangered women, the only way police can protect them is by imprisoning them.
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. . . .