Eleven Bosnian women relayed horrifying tales of rape, torture, forced prostitution, kidnapping, and killing in a U.S. civil trial against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The victims are seeking millions of dollars, and charge Karadzic with ordering Bosnian Serb military personnel to commit atrocities against Croats and Muslims in a genocide plot in the early 1990s. The women took the stand, telling their stories through sobs and screams, displaying evidence of severe anxiety as a result of the torture. One victim, now 65 years old, reported being raped daily and burned with an electric cattle prod. The trial is expected to end today, but whether the victims will collect damages is doubtful.
The case comes under U.S. jurisdiction through a 1789 law, the Alien Tort Claims Act, which was originally designed to punish acts of piracy and protect U.S. ambassadors in foreign countries. The law gives non-U.S. citizens the right to file civil suits in the U.S. for injuries suffered in violation of international law. It has been applied to cases like this since the 1980s, although most defenders ordered to pay damages have yet to pay. Karadzic has not been present in the NY courtroom to present a defense, and is currently in hiding from a UN tribunal seeking him on genocide charges. The Bosnian women's case was filed by noted feminist scholar Catharine MacKinnon, who pioneered sexual harassment law 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. . . .