On New Year’s Eve, just in time to meet the year-end deadline, President Clinton signed the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty—a major victory for women’s rights and human rights groups. Had Clinton not signed the Treaty, the US could not have indicated its support of the ICC through signature alone and would have needed ratification by the Senate. Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jesse Helms (R-NC) staunchly opposes the ICC.
In July 1998, 120 countries, excluding the United States, voted to adopt the Rome Statute establishing the ICC—a permanent court designed to prosecute war criminals, provide a mechanism for bringing to justice perpetrators of inhumane crimes against humanity, and for the first time in international law, recognize crimes of sexual and gender violence. Clinton’s signature was an essential step and encourages eventual ratification by the US and preserves US participation in the continuing discussion in establishing the court.
Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC Treaty presents clear language defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; and crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Once the court is established, atrocities such as the Taliban regime’s brutal laws of gender apartheid against women and girls in Afghanistan would qualify as crimes against humanity and therefore eligible to be tried before the International Criminal Court.
The ICC is set to become a working international body in the year 2002 with the ratification of the Rome Statute by 60 countries.
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. . . .