The government of Senegal officially ended the practice of female genital mutilation on Wednesday, thanks to years of struggle by women's rights activists, educators, doctors, and politicians. Violators of the new ban will face a maximum prison term of 5 years.
Last February, Senegal President Abdou Diouf called for an end to female genital mutilation, and asked government officials to formulate a law banning the practice. One month later, fourteen individual Senegal villages banned the practice after many local women took a course which described the health risks caused by female genital mutilation.
UNICEF director Carol Bellamy commented that the ban "reflects the resolve of African women to end a cruel and unacceptable practice which violates the right of all girls to free, safe and healthy lives."
Female genital mutilation is an often crude operation in which the genitalia of pre-pubescent girls is cut off. Health professionals testify that it limits normal bodily functions, robs girls of sexual pleasure, causes horrible scarring, and can lead to infections and long-term health complications, especially when unsterile health instruments are used.
Supporters of the practice argue that it is necessary to guarantee women's sexual chastity and faithfulness to their husbands. There is no doubt that the practice achieves this goal, since the operation makes sex uncomfortable at best, and extremely painful at worst.
The countries of Burkino Faso, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Ghana, Guinea and Togo also outlaw female genital mutilation, or its euphemism, "female circumcision."
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .