Thousands of Girls Forced to Fight With Armed Groups
A new report shows that current efforts to release children from armed groups often overlook the fact that over 120,000 girls have been abducted and forced to fight with armed groups around the world. According to the Save the Children report “Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in Armed Conflict,” girls as young as eight years old are being forced to be sex slaves or so-called “wives” of commanders.
The report shows that approximately 300,000 children are involved in armed conflict around the world today, and up to 40 percent of them are girls. In addition to being sexually violated by armed groups, girls are forced to take an active part in fighting. They also take on other duties such as cleaning and providing medical care.
Save the Children finds that the international community’s efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate (DDR) armed groups are failing because of discrimination against girls. DDR programs often ignore the problems girls specifically face, such as being ostracized by their families because they are often seen by their families as being promiscuous and dirty. In addition, only a very small percentage of girls participate in the formal DDR processes. In Sierra Leone, Save the Children found that only 4.2 percent of girls in armed groups went through the formal DDR process.
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. . . .