Last July, as the 13th International AIDS Conference drew to a close in Durban, South Africa, a lawmaker in neighboring Swaziland was proposing a way to halt the spread of AIDS in his country: ban miniskirts. This way, Senator Majahenkhaba Dlamini reportedly argued, men who are infected with HIV would be less likely to rape girls and infect them with the virus.
Women and girls make up more than half of the HIV-infected population in Swaziland. Females between the ages of 15 and 24 have almost twice the rate of HIV infection as their male peers. And many are infected through rape. According to a study by the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, men believe that girls are being abused because of "their good looks and their manner of dressing," an absurdity challenged by AIDS activists.
"The miniskirt ban is a result of the social construct of gender in Swaziland," says Sizakele Shongwe of the Fundza Centre, which creates school libraries that provide books on HIV/AIDS. "Men won't take responsibility for their bodies, so they're trying to control ours. What's really needed is information on how to prevent AIDS."
Meanwhile, students have mobilized against the proposed ban. "Young people are very angry," says Futhi Dlamini, who works at a youth center that offers HIV/AIDS counseling. "They're saying even the grandmothers who wear long skirts get raped." Feminist activist Doreen Mukwena, head of the Federation of Media Women in Zimbabwe, calls for protests. "Two years ago, girls here were being stripped of their miniskirts by men in the streets. We had a huge demonstration with women in miniskirts. Laws don't change perspectives but civic action does."
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The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .