Malawi Bans Child Marriage; Turkish Student Killed

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Child in Malawi

Credit: INDIVIDUELL MÄNNISKOHJÄLP on Flickr, under Creative Commons

Cheers:

The Malawian parliament has unanimously voted to outlaw child marriage, Marilynstowe.com/uk reported Feb. 17. The country has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, with 50 percent of girls becoming child brides and 1-in-8 married by 15.

Jesse Kabwila, who helped the bill get through Parliament, said, "This law is very important because of the number of girls who drop out of school because they are going to get married, and because of the high number of girls who are dying when they are giving birth."

The legislation will be signed into law within the next few weeks.

More News to Cheer this Week:

The first same-sex marriage took place in the state of Texas when two women were married under a one-time court order, NBC News reported Feb. 19. Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who have been together for almost 31 years, exchanged vows in Austin and were married by a rabbi after receiving their license. The county clerk said that the right to marry applied only to the couple, and was ordered by a state judge, because one of the women has "severe and immediate health concerns."

Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez has been freed from prison in El Salvador after an unprecedented pardon for giving birth to a stillborn baby in a miscarriage, The Telegraph reported Feb. 20. Vasquez, a rape survivor, was released after serving seven years of a 30-year sentence for allegedly murdering her fetus for losing the unborn baby in a medical emergency in a country that has banned abortion in all circumstances. Although Vasquez’s case benefited from worldwide attention, another 15 women are still serving jail terms of 30-40 years for losing their babies in similar circumstances.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it is unlikely that the court will overturn Roe v. Wade, as the court is highly precedent bound, Jezebel reported Feb. 17. In an interview with MSNBC, Ginsberg said also that while "women of means" are able to get an abortion, it is not the same for poor women.

Women’s advocacy group Equality Now has launched a campaign against 44 governments for their discriminatory laws, reported The Daily Beast Feb. 16. The report, "Ending Sex Discrimination in the Law," was released with the intention of launching a worldwide petition campaign and accompanied by the hashtag #UnSexyLaws.

Four Twitter friends have come together to create a safer space for women on the Internet: Femsplain. The platform offers women the possibility to share their personal feelings in a safe and supportive community. Femsplain is a "diverse collective (sexuality, racial, economic, career, geographical, etc.) of doers who have made it our mission to change the dialogue of what it’s like to be a woman — and in doing so, make our world a better place," reported the Huffington Post.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," is launching a series of day-long events for women in Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Boston and Orlando, Fla. "We’ll be weaving in stories about women we discover in each city we visit and bringing them to the next city. We’ll develop a movement that women can follow online over the course of the year," said Brzezinski to the Washington Post.

Jeer:

Women in Turkey wore black earlier this week in response to the horrific murder of a young female university student, BNG News reported Feb. 16. The murder of Özgecan Aslan, 20, has re-opened the debate over the death penalty in the country. Aslan was killed and her body burned after reportedly resisting a sexual assault attempt in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin on Feb. 13. Hundreds of people gathered across Turkey over the weekend to protest the murder. Many people have also changed their profile pictures on social media to black. Read more in the Women’s eNews story "Deadly Rape in Turkey Triggers National Outcry."

More News to Jeer this Week:

Most–98.5 percent–migrant women with children who did not have legal representation were deported last year, Think Progress reported Feb. 19. The article reports that these women were deported even though they had passed the "credible fear" interview, a preliminary step in the immigration screening process. Less than 30 percent of women with children who did have legal representation were allowed to stay in the country.

Barry Freundel, a once-influential D.C. rabbi, admitted in court this week that he had secretly videotaped dozens of nude women as they prepared for a ritual bath, The Washington Post reported Feb. 19. Freundel’s confessions end a painful chapter for his synagogue and the modern Orthodox world that has been badly shaken by his abrupt, scandalous fall. In a hearing in D.C. Superior Court, Freundel pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism — one for each woman prosecutors identified as having been taped within the past three years. The longtime rabbi had recorded about 100 additional women, prosecutors said, but those alleged crimes occurred outside the statute of limitations.

Isaac Latterell, a Republican South Dakota State representative, wrote a blog post this week entitled "Planned Parenthood worse than ISIS and lying about it," Jezebel reported Feb. 19. In the post, Latterell compares the terrorist group and the organization, writing that while ISIS may behead people alive, "Planned Parenthood abortionists in Sioux Falls are similarly beheading unborn children during dismemberment abortions." Latterell recently introduced a bill, HB 1230, prohibiting "the beheading of certain living unborn children to provide penalties therefor," which passed the Health and Human Services Committee on Feb. 17.

Mississippi asked the U.S. Supreme Court Feb. 18 to review a lower court decision blocking a law that would shut the state’s sole abortion clinic, Reuters reported. Mississippi is among several states that have passed laws requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics. Some of the measures are under court review.

Spain’s ruling party, the Popular Party, introduced Feb. 18 a proposal that would ban abortion for minors who fail to get the consent of their parents or legal guardians, Spanish News Today reported Feb. 18. This alteration in Spanish legislation was part of an abandoned reform, introduced in 2013, to fully ban abortion on demand except in cases of rape, a risk to the mother and malformation of the fetus. Under the current law, minors are only required to inform their parents or legal guardians when they decide to have an abortion.

Women who undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have a significantly increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to a major study, The Guardian reported Feb. 13. Researchers from the University of Oxford analyzed 52 previous studies involving 21,000 women and found that even those who took it for less than five years raised the risk level, although it reduced once they had stopped. The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, has led to calls for medical guidance on HRT to be updated given the "causal relationship."

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health has issued a press release denouncing the Feb. 16 decision by the federal courts in Brownsville, Texas, which granted a preliminary injunction to the 26-state challenge to the president’s administrative reforms of immigration policy. The injunction will delay the implementation of the president’s reforms, which include the expansion of deferred action for nationwide individuals who came to the U.S. as children and for parents of citizens and permanent residents.

Women living under Islamic State’s control in Iraq and Syria are facing increasingly harsh restrictions on movement and dress, according to residents who talked with The Guardian. Women are forced to be accompanied by a male guardian at all times and are compelled to wear double-layered veils, loose abayas and gloves, according to residents of Mosul, Raqqa and Deir el-Zour. Male guardians are also subject to punishment if women don’t comply with the prescribed dress code.

In the past four years, 231 new restrictions on abortion have bene enacted at the state level, reported Spiked Feb. 17. The online news service has provided readers with a list of the top 10 worst states for abortion rights: Kansas, North and South Dakota, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Illinois and Arizona.

Noted:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU chapter of Ohio have reached a settlement in a lawsuit involving Jennifer Maudlin, the organization announced Feb. 18. Maudlin, a single mother, alleged she was fired from her job as a cook at Inside Out, a Christian child care facility, after becoming pregnant. In the 2013 lawsuit, Maudlin claimed she was fired due to a company policy against non-martial sex. As a result of the settlement, Inside Out has announced they will be making changes to its employment policies.

Palestinian artist Rima El-Mozayyen takes the role of both artist and activist with her artwork bringing to the surface a wide range of women’s issues, reported Ahram Online. The show, titled "I’m Not a Doll," tackles issues of rape, domestic violence, harassment, female genital mutilation and child marriage, and will continue at the Art Lounge in Cairo till Feb. 27.

Female newsreaders in Saudi Arabia may soon be required to dress more modestly when they appear on air, BBC News reported Feb. 20. The kingdom’s advisory body, the Shura Council, is considering a proposal which would require all female television presenters to adopt a more conservative dress code, which includes covering their head and wearing the traditional black abaya cloak. The proposal, which has yet to be passed by the council, has divided opinion among some female members.

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