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.
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. . . .