A major national newspaper recently investigated a traditional requirement that widows in Kenya often face that is being blamed for helping spread HIV/AIDS. According to the Washington Post, Kenyan widows must be "cleansed" by the village "cleanser," one of hundreds of thousands of men who sleep with widows and unmarried women who have lost a parent or child to get rid of evil spirits. According to the Post, "cleansers" are spreading HIV at high rates in villages where one in every three people is infected with the virus.
"Cleansers" can be found in various rural villages in other African countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, Senegal, and Nigeria. The tradition holds that a woman who loses her husband is thought to be "unholy" and needs to be cleansed to attend funerals and/or remarry. Women's groups in Kenya, such as Standing Idle Does Not Pay, have become more powerful in recent years and have worked to rid their villages of these "cleansers."
In other news in Kenya, earlier this week dozens of Kenyan women, organized by the women's British lawyer Martyn Day, presented petitions to the British High Commission offices in Nairobi on behalf of alleged victims of rape by British soldiers, according to Agence France Presse. The petitions urged the British government to take financial responsibility for the education of the mixed-race children and demanded an independent investigation by Britain and Kenya into the alleged rape cases.
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. . . .