NYC Establishes Civil Rights Remedy for Victims of Gender-Biased Crime
On November 30, a New York City Council Committee passed a new law that would allow victims of rape, domestic violence, and other crimes motivated by gender bias to sue the perpetrators in civil cases. NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is expected to sign the bill this week, making the city the first in the nation to establish this civil right for victims of violence against women since the May Supreme Court decision nullifying the civil rights remedy of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act See Feminist News, May 15, 2000). In that ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the regulation of crime was under the jurisdiction of the states and localities, not with Congress. New York City is the first to take steps to establish such protections for victims of violence against women since the ruling. The new measure allows women to bring suit up to seven years after an incident, and allows them to sue for lawyers’ fees and punitive damages as well as compensation. It requires plaintiffs to prove that the acts were motivated by gender bias; typical evidence in such cases includes anti-woman epithets and acts that “perpetuated stereotypes of women’s submissive role.” The New York Times reported that, while overall crime in New York City has been declining, incidents of domestic violence have remained steady.
Media Resources: New York Times - December 1, 2000
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. . . .