Sex Assault Expert Appointed to Air Force Academy Panel
The Pentagon on Thursday appointed a sexual assault expert to a panel investigating the recent rape scandal at the Air Force Academy. Anita Carpenter, the chief executive officer of the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault, is the only sexual assault expert or victim advocate appointed to the panel. Carpenter was appointed shortly after panelist Amy McCarthy resigned under heavy criticism for blaming the female cadets for being raped because they were engaging in "high-risk behaviors." In fact, Carpenter told the Denver Post that one of her biggest challenges would be in dispelling myths, such as "if she went back to his room, she must have wanted intercourse. ... Or [people] say, 'Well, she shouldn't have been drinking'." In addition, the panel's executive director Anita Blair, a former vice president of the ultraconservative Independent Women's Forum and outspoken opponent of women in the military, was removed.
Women's rights advocates hail Carpenter's appointment as an important step in ensuring that the review of rape and sexual assault allegations at the Air Force Academy is fair and thorough. The National Organization for Women has issued on its website a call for all future national investigations into sexual violence automatically include sexual violence experts and victim advocates.
Documents released Thursday show that dozens of cases of sexual assault and rape have been investigated by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations since 1993. A report issued in late June by the Air Force Working Group found that though first-year cadets make up only 29 percent of the school's population, they made up 53 percent of the alleged victims, according to the Associated Press. The Air Force documents note several incidents involving first-year women and senior men.
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. . . .