Rectifying Sexual Violence Still a Major Concern in Liberia
Despite a major anti-rape law implemented in Liberia early this year, a United Nations report found that progress has been slow in abolishing sexual and gender-based violence due to flaws in the judicial system. The Rape Amendment Act, implemented when Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf came into office January 2006, strengthened consent laws, redefined rape as a felony, and imposed a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for first-degree rape. A human rights report issued by the United Nations Missions in Liberia (UNMIL), however, found that only a fraction of cases are actually heard, some suspects are being released without facing trial, and many cases are inefficiently investigated.
According to the report, "rape suspects are regularly released on bail even when there is significant evidence indicating guilt" and as of July 2006, "only one accused had been convicted of an offense under the Act since it came into force six months ago."
President Johnson-Sirleaf is now working with UNMIL and the Government of Liberia Rule of Law Task Force to ensure that the laws mandating fundamental rights for women and children are being upheld.
Media Resources: UNMIL Human Rights and Protection Section Quarterly Report May-July 2006; Liberia Ministry of Foreign Affairs Act to Amend the New Penal Code; www.unmil.org; UN News 10/18/06
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .