Iraqi women are seeing their rights increasingly constrained by religious groups gaining increased power and the almost nonexistent security. Women wearing long skirts and Islamic headscarves are now being turned away from mosques and shrines because they are not wearing the abaya, a black head-to-toe cloak, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Restrictive dress codes are also being imposed on women at universities. New signs posted at the entrance of a university in Baghdad state that pants are prohibited and that women who wear scarves that leave part of the head uncovered are not "real" Muslims, the Monitor reports.
The BBC reports that one Iraqi United Nations staff member received a handwritten note at home saying that she would be killed unless she wore a veil covering her hair. UN officials have also reported pressure on schoolgirls in some areas of Iraq to veil. "It's an issue of people's rights - it's an issue not only of women's rights, but human rights - and people have a right to choose whether or not they wear the veil, what religion they practice, how they practice that religion," UN Children's Fund spokesman Geoffrey Keele told the BBC.
The lack of security in Iraq has also led to rumors of increased rapes and abductions of girls. Some families are so concerned for their daughters that they are refusing to let them leave the house. The number of girls attending school has decreased since the US occupation of Iraq, according to the Village Voice. Women in Iraq are not able to drive or walk the streets at night freely as they could before the invasion, according to the BBC.
In an effort to ensure women's rights in Iraq, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) have called upon the Bush administration to include women in leadership roles in the reconstruction of Iraq and to ensure that women are full participants in the new Iraqi government. L. Paul Bremer, the US civilian administrator in Iraq, has said that the 25-30 member political council of Iraqis he is appointing next month will include women, according to the Monitor.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
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. . . .