Women's Rights Leaders Speak Out on Violence Against Women
At a Congressional Forum on International Women's Rights and Security yesterday, several Congresswomen and women's rights leaders asserted that more work needs to be done to end violence against women around the world. Sponsored by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the forum featured Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Hilda Solis (D-CA). Rep. Schahowsky stated that there has been a growing recognition among the women in Congress of abuses against women internationally. "All of us have to take on the responsibility [to work against women's rights abuses] ...because if we don't no one will."
Regarding Afghanistan, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, asserted that the United States policies and the policies of the developed world "must change." Last week, at the release of the Global Women's Issues Scorecard, Smeal stated that "the Bush Administration's statements have been very strong on the topics of women's rights in the Afghan Constitution, security, and reconstruction in Afghanistan. However, these strong statements have not been met with action." Smeal also said, "Though women's rights are guaranteed in the Afghan Constitution, they are very fragile ... on the ground, the lack of security makes women's already fragile rights even weaker."
According to Dr. Lynn Amawitz of Physicians for Human Rights there were two reported honor killings a day in Nasirya, Iraq during her ten-day stay there. It is unknown how many unreported killings occurred during this period. Amawitz stated that she was unsure exactly how prevalent honor killings were in Southern Iraq but she was sure they were common events. According to Kelly Hayes-Raitt, of the Community Campaign in Iraq, the impact of the war in Iraq has fallen heavily on women because over one million Iraqi men have been killed over the past decade, leaving women to be the victims of the current of war. Hayes-Raitt noted that "in spite of the fact the United States dropped bombs on all the ministries" the only one that did not get bombed was the Ministry of Oil.
Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, human rights workers and doctors are finding cases of young women in Afghanistan who have set themselves on fire as a way to escape family life and the tribal traditions they are forced to endure such as forced marriage to men as much as three times their age.
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. . . .