U.S. Federal prosecutors released a 52-count indictment yesterday, charging 16 members of a prostitution ring run by a family that is based in Veracruz, Mexico. Allegations include the forced prostitution of 20 women, some as young as 14-years-old, alleged beatings, rapes and forced abortions. U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Chief Bill Lann Lee said the charges were “shocking and unconscionable.”
The women paid as much as $2,400 to the family to be smuggled across the Mexican border into the United States. The women, many of whom thought they would find work in restaurants or hotels, were moved from a “safe house” in Houston to one of twelve brothels in Florida or South Carolina. The women were not allowed to leave until they had paid back their smuggling fee.
The women have spoken of rapes, beatings, being prostituted within weeks of a forced abortion, and forced to have sex up to 20 times a day. Eleven of the women and three girls are aiding U.S. investigators and are allowed to remain in the U.S. for one year.
Eight members of the prostitution-ring were taken into custody by U.S. officials.
U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno announced the creation Thursday of a task force that will work to combat worker-exploitation in the U.S.
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. . . .