At a press conference this morning, Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-CA) announced that she is reintroducing the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP Act) to address sexual assault in the military.
In an official statement, Speier said "The epidemic of military rape and sexual assault is a damning indictment of the military judicial system's treatment of these cases. True justice demands impartiality which is absent in a system that relies on individual commanders who have no legal expertise to determine which assailants get prosecuted and which go free. Instead of commanders making decisions about guilt or innocence, no matter how senior, an independent military office of trained experts should determine how these cases are treated."
At the press conference, Feminist Majority Government Relations Director, Norma Gattsek, said "The military structure for the handling of sexual assault is, in itself, a barrier to real justice. The atmosphere and the treatment of survivors deter them from reporting crimes and the perpetrators continue unabated. For all too many, it has meant leaving work they love, they are trained to do and that they do well. This is our loss."
The STOP Act, which has 83 co-sponsors, would take sexual assault cases out of the hands of chains of command and place it under the jurisdiction of an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office which will be comprised of civilian and military personnel. This would prevent officers from being able to overturn sexual assault convictions like in a case last month.
Media Resources: Business Insider 4/17/2013; Statement of Congresswomen Jackie Speier 4/17/2013; Feminist Newswire 3/6/2013
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. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .