Harvard Panel Recommends New Sexual Assault Policy
A report issued last week by a Harvard panel urged the college to change its current controversial sexual assault policies to include more education and a more efficient review process. The panel recommended new education programs for all students and the creation of a single office that addresses sexual misconduct issues, according to the Washington Post. In reaction to the report, Harvard students expressed concern about how the new recommendations would be achieved. Committee members advised that community pressure would be needed to keep the proposal on track The Harvard Crimson reported.
Harvard University came under fire last spring when the faculty unanimously voted that students filing sexual assault charges must provide “sufficient, corroborating evidence” of misconduct before the board will examine the incident, according to Women’s E-News. “To my knowledge, this is not only the only school that in practice mistreats women—retaliates against them, in fact—but Harvard is the first school to put in writing that the word of a woman is not good enough,” Wendy Murphy, a former sex crimes prosecutor who is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, told Women’s ENews. In 2002, the disciplinary board acted in only one sexual assault case while a survey by student health services found over 200 cases of rape and attempted rape, according to a Harvard student group Coalition Against Sexual Violence, as reported in the Washington Post.
Georgetown University’s sexual assault policy is also being questioned after a complaint was filed with the federal government last month. Kate Dieringer, a Georgetown sophomore who was raped last year, claims the University violated her right to find out what action the school had taken against her rapist by making her sign a confidentiality agreement, according to Forensic Nurse Magazine. Under federal law, that information must be provided unconditionally. “Georgetown’s policy of silencing rape victims serves only to perpetuate this crime of silence,” said S. Daniel Carter a victim advocate with Security On Campus, Inc., according to Forensic Nurse. Currently the complaint is under review, Forensic Nursereports.
In order to increase awareness regarding sexual assault issues, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is urging people to call and mail their representatives asking them to support a resolution that officially declares April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The resolution will help raise the profile of the issue and lead to more media coverage and legislative action, according to NOW. The Senate has already passed the resolution; it will now go to the House.
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. . . .