Village Gang-Rape Convicts Freed By Pakistani Court
Five of the six men sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for gang-raping a 30-year-old woman, Mukhtar Mai, were acquitted by a village council yesterday, angering the human rights community. The sixth man received a reduced sentence to life in prison, reports Reuters.
In June 2002, a tribal council in a rural area of Pakistan ordered the gang rape of Mai after she approached the council in hopes of settling a dispute involving the kidnapping of her younger brother, who was sodomized by a local clan for allegedly having sexual relations with a woman from a rival tribe, reports the New York Times. After hearing her case, the council decided that Mai should be forced to marry a man from the rival tribe and her brother should marry the woman he allegedly had sexual relations with. Mai was gang raped and forced to walk home naked by men of the rival tribe after she rejected the councilís order.
According to the New York Times, Mai gained international recognition for coming forward publicly after the attack, despite receiving death threats, in an effort to urge the government to help her receive justice. Human rights activists have been pressing Pakistani authorities to strip the tribal councils of their powers for years.
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. . . .