Human Rights Workers, Rape Survivors Threatened in Indonesia
Human rights organizations that have been investigating reports of rape in Jakarta, Indonesia have received death threats from unidentified men.
The organizations estimated at least 168 cases of rape during the riots and several afterwards. Most of the victims were part of the Chinese minority that is often scapegoated in times of crisis. Twenty women died as a result of their assaults, and most have been silenced by threats of violence and rumors of more attacks. Others have fled or even committed suicide.
The threats to human rights workers and rape survivors indicate that the rapists or those who may have ordered the rapes have the capacity to monitor the activities of the organizations. Human rights workers said their investigation confirmed their suspicion that the rapes were organized and coordinated. Most suspect the military or other security forces. On Friday, 100 women demonstrated outside the Defense Ministry demanding that the military take responsibility for and end the rapes, brandishing signs that read "Indonesia! Republic of Fear, Republic of Terror, Republic of Rape!"
According to Volunteers for Humanity Spokeswoman President B.J. Habibie was reluctant to explore the rapes at first because he feared it would reflect poorly on the Indonesian people, but has now agreed to create a task force led by his wife Dr. Hasri Ainun Besari to study the reports.
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. . . .