A young Islamic woman converts to Christianity, alienating her family and effectively banishing herself from the community she has grown up in. She approaches her parish priest, expressing her desire to become a Catholic nun and requesting the required certificates. The price for certification was incomprehensibly high: rape. When she finds herself pregnant, the young girl approaches the bishop, telling him that the priest raped her in exchange for the documents she needed to become a nun. The priest was ordered to “go on a two-week retreat.”
This is just one of the stories of sexual exploitation reported by nuns in 23 countries around the world, mostly concentrated in Africa, where the AIDS epidemic has made nuns and young girls victims of men (including priests and bishops) seeking “safe” women for sex, according to an article in the March 16 issue of the National Catholic Reporter. The Catholic Church is denying these allegations.
Nuns have not been silent on this horrific treatment, despite what one sister calls a “conspiracy of silence” in the Catholic church. The reports of rape, impregnation, forced abortion, and a double standard that punished the nuns involved but allowed the priests to continue serving in their communities have been discussed in councils of religious men and women worldwide, including at the Vatican. Sr. Maura O’Donohue, physician and former AIDS coordinator for the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, is just one of two nuns, two priests, and one bishop who have written or spoken about the problem. Sr. O’Donohue says that, while nuns have appealed to congregational authorities in many countries, church authorities have offered little response. Despite documentation that prominent church officials – even within the Vatican – have been aware of the problem since as early as 1995, the Catholic church is denying the allegations of sexual exploitation.
Sources: National Catholic Reporter March 16, 2001, Vol. 37 No. 20; Personal Memo from Sr. Maura O’Donohue MMM: Meeting at SRC, Rome. February 18, 1995; “The Problem of the Sexual Abuse of African Religious in Africa and in Rome” Marie McDonald, MSOLA, Paper for the Council of ‘16’ November 20, 1998; “Theological Challenges Posed by the Global Pandemic of HIV/AIDS” A reflection by Rev. Robert J. Vitillo, Carias Ineternationalois, with the Theological Study Group on HIV/AIDS, Boston College. March 23, 1994
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. . . .