In the early 1990s, mass rapes were reported in Bosnia. Thousands of women were repeatedly raped and tortured at the hands of the Serbs. There are several reported rumors that the Serbs, during the war in Kosovo, may have used rape as a tactic of war. As human rights organizations begin to collect information and evidence of whether or not systematic rape was used as a weapon of war, the greatest problem they confront is the social consequences for rape victims.
So far, there has been no confirmation that systematic rape was used, but there have been several reports that suggest the use of rape camps by the Serbs. Refugees recount instances of sexual assault and isolated rape incidences, and the State Department has received information that the Hotel Karagac in Pec and an army camp nearby Djakovica were turned into rape camps.
The use of rape during war by the Serbs has several functions. By raping women, Serbs are taking possession of their enemy's women, while simultaneously proving their manhood. Also, they desire to create a "pure" Serbian race, discounting the nationality and background of the woman.
In a society that deems the purity and virginity of women as paramount to the honor of the family, raped women face severe humiliation, shame, and guilt. Many women deny that they have been raped and experience great emotional and psychological problems. The social stigma of rape is such that a woman and her family become social outcasts. A woman risks being abandoned by her husband or family, or even being exiled from her village if she reports or discusses the trauma of her rape.
Currently, there is no hard evidence that rape camps existed in Kosovo. However, officials have little doubt that as time progresses and more refugees return to their homeland, more stories of rape will emerge.
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. . . .