A United Nations report issued yesterday contends that sexual violence against ethnic Albanian women has increased significantly since NATO began bombing Yugoslavia on March 24.
Dominique Serrano-Fitamant, a woman who interviewed many of the rape survivors for the U.N. Population Fund report, said the incidence of violence has shown "a significant upsurge."
According to reports, Serbian soldiers are targeting young, pretty women and pregnant women for rape. The young women are usually kidnapped in small groups and driven to houses where the soldiers live. They are then locked up for several days or more and repeatedly raped and beaten. "Any resistance is met with threats of being burned alive," said Serrano-Fitamant.
According to her interviewees, young women have not been the sole targets of Serbian soldiers. Kosovar men who tried to stop the rapists were killed and at least one woman who tried to stop the soldiers from torturing her daughters was beaten to death. Another woman was shot in the street as she tried to escape from the house in which she was tortured.
Serrano-Fitamant's interviewees reported that in the border town of Berlenitz, Serbian soldiers had slit the throats of young boys, cut open the stomachs of pregnant women, and skewered the women's fetuses on their knives. Some women said that the trauma they suffered as a result of the soldier's violent acts had rendered them "dead" to their families. Many feared that their families or communities would reject them because they had been raped.
U.N. Population Fund Executive Director Dr. Nafis Sadik said that his and other U.N. agencies will provide counseling training to health workers and Albanian women's groups in order to help survivors "regain their dignity as human beings."
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. . . .