Portugal's parliament on Wednesday voted to hold a referendum to decriminalize abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. For the referendum to be accepted, not only must it gain a majority of votes, but also more than half of the nationís registered voters must cast a ballot. A date for the poll has not yet been set. This is the second Portuguese abortion referendum to come to a vote. The first, in 1998, was defeated by a narrow margin of 51 to 49 percent, and voter turnout was low.
Portugal is one of the few countries in Europe that bans abortions, except in instances where the motherís life or health is in danger, the fetus is malformed, or the mother was raped. The country has an estimated annual rate of about 700 legal abortions and 20,000 to 40,000 illegal abortions, according to Reuters. A woman convicted of receiving an illegal abortion faces a jail sentence of up to three years.
Women on Waves traveled to Portugal in 2004 to bring attention to the nationís punitive abortion policies. Though the ship was never allowed to enter Portuguese waters Ė in fact, it was blocked by Portugalís Navy Ė the trip succeeded renewing the debate in Portugal about the countryís restrictive abortion policies. A poll conducted shortly after the trip found that three in five voters in Portugal wanted to liberalize Portugalís abortion laws and nearly 77 percent wanted to hold a new referendum on abortion. The Feminist Majority Foundation traveled with Women on Waves to Portugal to provide security assistance.
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. . . .
8/25/2015 Fraternity Signs Promote Rape Culture, Elicit Outrage - Old Dominion University (ODU) in Virginia is receiving national attention for a fraternity's vulgar and offensive signs that were on display as first-year students moved into their dorms.
The signs, which were hung on fraternity Sigma Nu and displayed derogatory messages for incoming female students- and their mothers- have since been removed, and the University has promised disciplinary action. . . .