Women’s organizations in India are outraged over increasing use of rape as a means of intimidation and punishment. “Not only is there an escalation in the number of rapes, but in the perversity of crimes against women,” said Indu Agnihotri, from the Centre for Women’s Studies.
The situation is worse in the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where caste and gender divides are explicit. Judges have acquitted rapists due to their high caste status, stating that the rape of a lower-caste woman could not have taken place. “Lower-rung police officials are not responsive and either do not register complaints or falsify or delay them,” said Kokila Vyas of the National Commission for Women (NCW) in India.
Women who are working for social justice often face the greatest risk of being raped. In 1993, an activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan in Gujarat who resisted expulsion from her land was gang-raped by police. A lower-caste woman who was leading an anti-liquor movement was stripped, led around naked and raped by men working for the liquor lobby. Land owners and members of the security forces also rape women of lower caste regularly, as a means of subordinating the women.
Women’s groups are crying out for change. “If they think they can silence us with rape, they are mistaken. We will never take it lying down. We are now stronger than ever before,” stated activist Sumli Bai.
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. . . .