Six Female Judges Elected to International Criminal Court
Six women and one man were elected to the 18-member International Criminal Court (ICC) after the first round of voting on Tuesday. The ICC’s first judges are Elizabeth Odio Benito of Panama/Costa Rice, Maurenn Harding Clark of Ireland, Fatoumata Diarra of Mali, Akua Kuenyehia of Ghana, Navanthem Pillay of South Africa, and Sylvia Steiner of Brazil. The United States was not allowed to vote or submit any candidates to the court due to its strong opposition to the ICC, according to the Associated Press.
The voting procedure for the ICC is designed to ensure that the composition of the panel will have a gender and geographical balance. Groups such as the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice are working to ensure high levels of women’s participation in the ICC. There are still 11 open judgeships, and the Women’s Caucus is aiming for gender parity on the ICC.
The ICC has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which created the court, presents clear language that defines gender crimes as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.
The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. In fact, the Bush administration has threatened to withdraw military aid to countries that will not guarantee US immunity in the ICC.
Media Resources: Associated Press 1/4/03; UN Wire 2/4/03; Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice; Feminist News Wire
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. . . .