A new law in Kenya has created stricter punishments for rapists and sexual predators, but has failed to criminalize marital rape and female genital mutilation. The bill, which President Mwai Kibaki approved on July 14, was the first legal recognition of many sex crimes, including gang rape, sexual harassment, and child trafficking. The legislation also outlaws the deliberate transmission of the HIV virus.
The bill comes as a reaction to the rising number of rapes and sexual assaults committed in Kenya. While it is estimated that women are raped every half hour in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, Kenya's legal code on sexual crimes has not been significantly changed since 1930.
One of the most contentious issues is a provision in the law that imposes the same sentence on rapists and those who falsely accuse someone of rape. This clause may "deter women from coming forward [and has] shifted the burden of proof in rape cases from the accuser to the accused," according to a statement from the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General. Kenyan women's rights activists are especially angered by this provision of the legislation. Says Anne Njogu, director of the Centre for Women's Rights Education and Awareness, according to allAfrica.com, "It is the same chauvinistic, paternalistic, very, very parochial attitudes towards women."
Many are skeptical about how effective this new legislation will be in combating the rising incidences of rape. "For many rural women, it will take much more than a new law to change deeply entrenched traditions, where culturally, women have little power," said Jack Nyagaya, a counselor who deals with cases of rape, according to allAfrica.com.
Media Resources: Statement from the Office of the UN Secretary General 7/19/06; allAfrica.com 7/15/06; AVERT 6/8/06; BBC News 6/1/06; Women’s eNew 7/21/06; allAfrica.com 7/10/06
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. . . .