Thousands gathered in 12 different locations yesterday to support Sudan's Darfur region and rally against the genocide-in-progress. The largest of these rallies was on the National Mall in Washington, DC. “Never again,” the speakers yelled to masses in front of the nation’s capitol. “Never again,” shouted back the diverse, impassioned crowd. The rally lasted a little over four hours and took place in front of the US Capitol. Over 45 political leaders, activists, writers, and celebrities took the stage to speak about the genocide in Darfur, which has left 180,000 dead and about 2 million displaced.
Speakers and participants at the rally came from all walks of life, spanning religions, political views, international lines, languages, and generations. The speakers spoke to this diversity, saying that we are all one people. Another message of the Save Darfur rally was one of personal action. Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel encouraged the crowd to go forward and speak out against the atrocities in Darfur, saying, “Silence helps the killers, never the victims." Other speakers included Nick and George Clooney, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power, and US Senator Barack Obama.
According to Save Darfur, the organization responsible for the rally, “The humanitarian situation remains catastrophic, due to ongoing state-sponsored violence, layers of aid obstruction, the lack of an overall humanitarian strategic plan, and the weakened state of displaced Sudanese. Refugees and internally displaced civilians (IDPs) have been displaced for long periods, they are in terribly weakened states, they are subject to sexual abuse and attack, they do not have adequate shelter, and a new famine is feared."
"Rape has become a hallmark of the crimes against humanity in Darfur," according to Save Darfur. "Families must continue collecting wood, fetching water or working their fields, and in doing so, women daily put themselves or their children at the risk of rape, beatings or death as soon as they are outside the camps, towns or villages.”
Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation; Save Darfur
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. . . .