In the first war crimes case focused solely on rape and sexual slavery, the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague convicted three former Bosnian Serb commanders of rape and torture, issuing sentences ranging from 12 to 28 years imprisonment. It is the first case of its kind to focus on sexual assault with no other accompanying crimes, and the first to apply the concept of slavery to sexual violence and not only to cases of forced labor. Setting an important precedent, the decision is a major victory for women’s human rights worldwide, firmly establishing rape as a crime against humanity.
Judge Florence Mumba declared, “Rape was used by members of the Bosnian Serb armed forces as an instrument of terror.” Over the course of the 11-month trial, 16 victims testified that Bosnian Serb armed forces enslaved Muslim women and girls in “rape camps.” Women and girls as young as 12 years old were repeatedly raped and gang-raped, sold to other soldiers, and forced to live as sexual slaves.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe - February 23, 2001
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. . . .