Congressional Democrats announced that they had developed legislation to override the Supreme Court decision on contraceptives, The New York Times reported July 8. The bill would ensure that women have access to coverage for birth control even if they work for businesses that have religious objections. The bill, developed in consultation with the Obama administration, would require for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Stores to provide and pay for contraceptive coverage, along with other preventive services, under the Affordable Care Act.
Against that backdrop, the House minority leader suggested the conservative leaning court is stealing women’s freedoms when it comes to making healthcare choices, The Hill reported July 10. “We should be afraid of this court. That five guys should start determining what contraceptions are legal or not. … It is so stunning,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. Women’s rights activists rallied on July 8 to protest two recent Supreme Court rulings — including the decision invalidating Massachusetts’ 35-foot “buffer zone” around abortion clinic entrances, The Associated Press reported July 7.
More News to Cheer This Week:
Algeria has appointed three women as army Generals, making it the Arab country with the most high-ranking female army commanders, Al Arabiya reported July 9. A fourth general was appointed by Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika in 2010 as the first general of the Armée Nationale Populaire (ANP) or People’s National Army.
Barnes and Noble, Inc., agreed to protect the rights of mothers nursing in its New York stores after a woman breastfeeding in one location was asked to cover up or leave in March, Reuters reported July 9. New York State law says a woman may breastfeed her infant in any location that she is allowed, regardless of whether she is covered while nursing.
Egypt’s National Council for Women, in collaboration with several government ministries, launched a national strategy to combat violence against women, The Daily News Egypt reported July 7. The strategy involves prevention, protection and intervention and will include rehabilitation of those perpetrating violence as well as their victims.
The Slovak government has committed to broaden access to modern contraceptives for all women, The Center for Reproductive Rights reported July 7. Access to contraceptive services and information to date is currently limited in Slovakia.
Sixty three girls and women kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria have escaped, according to officials, Fox News reported July 7. Small-scale kidnappings by Boko Haram extremists had been going on for months. They drew international condemnation after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok town of Borno state April 15. Some 219 of those girls still are missing.
Pope Francis met with six victims of clerical sex abuse from Ireland, Britain and Germany. He offered his strongest condemnation of a crisis that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church, The New York Times reported July 7. The pope begged forgiveness from victims and pledged to crack down on bishops who fail to protect children.
Cairo University adopted an anti-sexual-harassment policy to be implemented next semester, according to HarassMap, which applauded the move in a press statement July 8. The policy says no forms of sexual harassment will be tolerated at the university and provides a framework for students and professors to safely report sexual harassment.
Teen birth rates in Colorado have dropped 40 percent over the past five years due to a government initiative that has increased access to affordable contraception, RH Reality Check reported July 7. Since the initiative began in 2009, Colorado has gone from having the 29th lowest teen pregnancy rate in the country to the 19th lowest.
Sixteen year-old Jada said photos of her sexual assault, during which she was drugged and raped at a party, went viral online, Think Progress reported July 10. “I’m just angry,” said Jada, who asked to be identified only by first name. “That’s not what I am and who I am.”
Since the images of the teen’s unconscious body went viral, other teens have posted photos of themselves splayed out on the floor in the same pose as the original images, mocking Jada’s experience. Jada, who shared her name and story with the media, said she now wants to be homeschooled because of the toll the social media firestorm has taken on her. “No one’s daughter deserved this,” said Jada’s mother, who did not want to be identified.
More News to Jeer This Week:
New Hampshire decided not to enforce a law allowing 25-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics until a federal judge decides whether it is legal, Concord Monitor reported July 10. Two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts’ protective buffer zone around abortion clinics violates the free speech rights of protesters, four other buffer zones around the country have already disappeared or been challenged in court. The City Council of Portland, Maine, repealed its 39-foot buffer zone around a women’s health clinic this week, and the cities of Burlington, Vt., and Madison, Wis., have stopped enforcing their buffer zones, The Huffington Post reported July 9.
About 40 percent of U.S. colleges and universities have not investigated any sexual assault cases in the last five years, the Associated Press reported July 9. More than 20 percent of schools that participated in a survey conducted by the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., reported more assaults than investigations, despite the legal requirement to investigate all reports of sexualized violence.
Reports of crimes against women in India such as rape, dowry deaths, abduction and molestation increased by almost 27 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to government statistics, Reuters reported July 8. The number of reports in the country rose by about 35 percent to 33,707 in 2013. Delhi reported 1,441 rapes in 2013, making it the city with the highest number of rapes and confirming its reputation as India’s “rape capital.”
Male faculty members were less likely than female faculty members to hire female trainees in their labs, a study as has found, Time magazine reported July 9. In the average lab run by a man, 47 percent of graduate students were female and 36 percent of postdocs were female. In labs run by women, 53 percent of graduate students were female, and 47 percent of postdocs were female.
Women are the sole providers for 1-in-4 Syrian refugee families, finds a report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, The Guardian reported July 7. Those interviewed for the report, “Woman Alone – the Fight for Survival by Syrian Refugee Women,” said they lacked resources, jobs, food, housing, protection and security. One in three reported they did not have enough to eat. They struggle to provide food and shelter for their children and often facing harassment, humiliation and isolation. More than 145,000 Syrian families now living in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan are led by women, it says.
Female genital mutilation is increasing in rural areas in Egypt, says a leader of the Women and Development Association, The Cairo Post reported July 7. Accurate statistics are hard to provide because FGM is carried out illegally in villages.
Thousands of incidents of sexual violence against older women in Australia are going ignored or unreported, The Guardian reported July 7. The “enormous silence” is based partly on a belief that older women are asexual and unlikely to be the target of assault, researchers say.
Iran is considering a ban on vasectomies and other birth control surgeries as it tries to boost its population, Global Post reported July 5. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for an increase in the country’s population in order to “strengthen national identity.” In response, lawmakers recently approved a bill that would imprison doctors for up to five years for performing vasectomies or tubal ligations. The bill requires more debate and ratification by a constitutional watchdog before becoming law.
Sherry Matusoff Merfish who spent 20 years working at EMILY’s List and her two daughters have teamed up with patient advocate Emily Letts to create a new website called NotAlone.us, Cosmopolitan reported July 7. The website which will launch July 8 will be the first online open forum for women to tell their abortion stories on camera.
In Baghdad, the Badr Brigade, a Shiite militia, offers women a five-day weapons training course. The militia trains wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the estimated 10, 000 members of the group, CNN reported July 8. More than 450 women have been through the training since the group started it this year, a step that was taken after ISIS, the militant Sunni group, began to gain territories in Iraq.
MicroCHIPS, an offshoot of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed a wireless contraceptive that can be implanted under a woman’s skin, Business Insider reported July 7. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation backed the project with over $4.6 million funding and hopes to have the device on sale as early as 2018.