After significant international pressure, the Pakistani government has removed travel restrictions it had placed on the survivor of an infamous gang rape. Government officials had placed Mukhtaran Bibi on its Exit Control List (ECL) – a measure typically implemented to control political opponents. Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz told The Guardian that the move was a ‘security measure’ intended to protect her from threats against her life after a court discharged 12 men linked to the crime. Christina Rocca, the assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, presented the US position, telling the Guardian, “We are dismayed at the treatment being meted out to a courageous woman, Mukhtaran Bibi, who is herself a victim of a horrendous crime and is being denied the right to travel and to tell her story.”
In June 2002, Bibi was gang raped on the order of a council of tribal leaders as punishment for disgrace caused by her brother’s alleged “illicit affair” with a woman of a higher tribal class. Four men, including a member of the court, raped Bibi before hundreds of spectators in the village of Meerwala. Afterwards, the girl was forced to return home naked. Bibi 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. . . .