In a blow for women's rights in Pakistan, the government's proposals for reforming the country's cruel rape laws were dropped today. Under the Hudood Ordinances, which are based on sharia law, a woman must produce four male witnesses in order to convict her rapist, a requirement that often cannot be fulfilled simply because rapes are often private crimes. The proposed law would have allowed women to choose whether they would prosecute a rapist under the Hudood Ordinances or under Pakistan’s civil penal code. Religious conservatives, however, strongly opposed the proposed laws and threatened to walk out of parliament if the laws were passed, The Independent wrote.
Women rape victims in Pakistan are often further punished by the judicial system because, when a victim cannot produce four male witnesses, she can be convicted of adultery – a crime punishable by death. Human Rights Watch issued a statement denouncing the Hudood Ordinances because these laws render “most sexual assault victims unable to seek redress through the criminal justice system, deeming them guilty of illegal sex rather than victims of unlawful violence or abuse.”
The Independent reports that the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found in 2002 that a woman is raped every two hours and gang-raped every eight hours. These rates, however, might be significantly higher because of social mores, unfair laws, and insensitive treatment from police officers and government officials that discourage rape victims from reporting crimes.
Media Resources: The Independent 9/12/2006; Reuters 9/11/2006; AP 9/11/2006; Human Rights Watch 9/6/2006
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .