Egypt’s Virginity Tests Stopped; Somalia Rapes Rise

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Cheers:

An Egyptian court ordered the Egyptian army on Dec. 27 to stop forced virginity tests on female detainees, Agence France Presse reported. The decision has been made months after the practice sparked a national outcry and stained the ruling military’s reputation.

The Cairo Administrative Court ruled in favor of Samira Ibrahim, who sued the army over the practice, which has been slammed by rights groups as torture and sexual violence. Ibrahim was one of several women subjected to forced virginity tests when they were detained during a March demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

More News to Cheer:

  • Women in Saudi Arabia will not need a male guardian’s approval to run or vote in municipal elections in 2015, The Huffington Post reported Dec. 28. Women in the conservative kingdom cannot travel, work, study abroad, marry, get divorced or gain admittance to a public hospital without permission from a male guardian.
  • The Uruguayan Senate has passed legislation to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, BBC News reported Dec. 28. The legislation now goes to the lower house. Under the current legislation, abortion is only allowed in the case of rape or when the life of the woman is in danger.
  • Thousands gathered in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Dec. 27 for a demonstration protesting the growing demand by radical religious elements to exclude women from public life, Ynet reported Dec. 26. Public outcry against the radical demand to shun women from public events and for segregation between the sexes became especially strident last weekend when a 7-year-old girl was spat on in a Beit Shemesh street by a haredi Orthodox man who claimed she was not dressed "modestly enough." Israel’s prime minister has called on the police to act aggressively against violence against women in the public sphere, The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported Dec. 25.
  • The State Committee for Family, Women & Children of Azerbaijan has started to create a database of persons who committed domestic violence, ABC.az reported Dec. 26. It is hoped that the data bank will allow analysis of the actual domestic violence situation in the country and help lead to its prevention.

Jeers:

Somalia is facing an alarming increase in rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls, The New York Times reported Dec. 27. In the past two months, from Mogadishu alone, the United Nations says it has received more than 2,500 reports of gender-based violence, an unusually large number.

The Shabab militant group is seizing women and girls as spoils of war, gang-raping and abusing them as part of its reign of terror in southern Somalia, according to victims, aid workers and United Nations officials. The militants are also forcing families to hand over girls for arranged marriages that often last no more than a few weeks and are essentially sexual slavery. But it is not just the Shabab. In the past few months, aid workers and victims say, there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying upon women and girls displaced by Somalia’s famine.

More News to Jeer:

  • Fertility clinics in the United Kingdom are charging women who want to have children three times the actual cost of their treatment, The Independent reported Dec. 26. The accusation comes from the fertility pioneer Lord Robert Winston, who is attacking the high cost of fertility treatment and the unfettered use of expensive, unproven tests by private clinics.
  • An Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, but who had her sentence reduced to a 10-year jail term, could be hanged for her alleged involvement in her husband’s death, Bikya Masr reported Dec. 25. Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, 43, was found guilty of adultery in 2006. International rights groups and activists lashed out at Iran over the case, and the storm of international protests led to the removal of the death by stoning sentence.

Noted:

  • Israel has opened a special hotline to provide medical advice after it was believed that breast implants made by the defunct company Poly Implant Prostheses could be linked to an increased cancer risk, The Daily Mail reported Dec. 26. It is estimated that 850 women in Israel have these implants, some of the cheapest available, representing 5 percent of the total number who have undergone the cosmetic procedure.
  • Black women are enlisting in the military at far higher rates than are white or Hispanic women, St Louis Today reported Dec. 25. Black women now represent nearly a third of all the women in the U.S. armed forces, a study by the Pew Research Center has found.

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