The Pakistan Supreme Court reopened the case of gang-rape victim Mukhtar Mai (also known as Mukhtaran Bibi) yesterday following pressure from human rights groups and governments worldwide. The Supreme Court ordered the re-arrest of the 13 original suspects, overturning a high court ruling that acquitted five of six men arrested in the case.
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.
Mai's case also generated international outrage when she was prevented from leaving the country under orders from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who feared she would project a "bad image" of Pakistan, according to the Washington Post. Mai's willingness to speak out about her experience has raised international concern about violence against women in Pakistan and has made her a hero to Pakistan women. She is hopeful about the outcome of the case, saying, "I am happy and I hope those who humiliated me will be punished," reports The Washington Post.
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. . . .