Welcome to our new Weekly Global Reproductive Justice Roundup! Each week, reporter Jessica Mack will summarize reproductive and sexual health and justice news from around the world. We will still report in depth on some of these stories, but we want to make sure you get a sense of the rest and the best.
Eking Out Abortion Access in Argentina
Last week, Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled that all rape victims are eligible for legal abortions. This is a major breakthrough, as prior law allowed abortion only for rape victims who also had verified mental disabilities. The decision came after a 15-year old girl was raped and impregnated by her stepfather, and, though she had no mental disability, petitioned for an abortion anyway. Brave girl – and the women of Argentina will thank her. Her request was first denied, then approved, then challenged by the Public Defender of Chubut Province, who appealed on behalf of her… fetus. Finally, the national Supreme Court stepped in. Luckily, she was able to obtain an abortion amidst all the legal drama. For many young women who find themselves at the center of landmark abortion rights cases, the decisions come too late. In KL v. Peru, a woman was forced to deliver and then breastfeed her anencephalic fetus before it died days later. Gillian Kane of Ipas has an extensive analysis of the law change here, including what it signifies for abortion rights in Latin America more broadly. Via Associated Press.
Anti-Gay Evangelical American Preacher Sued by Ugandan Rights Activists
Scott Lively, an American preacher best known for his outspoken and violent feelings toward homosexuality, and linked with Uganda’s infamous “Kill the Gays” Bill, (tabled in 2009 and recently reintroduced), is finally being called out globally for his hateful bullshit. The gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda has accused Lively of inciting local hate crimes, homophobia, and horribly oppressive policies outlawing homosexuality. The New York Times contacted Lively about the lawsuit, though he said he hadn’t heard about it yet. He is being sued through the “Alien Tort Statute,” which allows a US citizens to be sued in US courts if he or she is accused of breaking international laws. Since gay rights activists in Uganda have little legal or social support, suing Lively in the US, where the movement is much more developed, is an excellent tactic. Anti-homosexuality bills aren’t the only thing that far-right radical American activists can be linked with overseas; they are also involved in pushing an array of anti-woman laws. Remember when Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) was caught spreading anti-choice rhetoric in Kenya during a congressional recess? Via Global Post.
Fresh Accusations of Rape and Torture for the Myanmar Military
Human Rights Watch today released a near-100 page report detailing gruesome crimes of the Myanmar army in the country’s northern Kachin State, including mass rape, torture, and forced child labor. In January, the ruling military regime, which has ruled the country under dictatorship for almost 50 years, shocked and delighted the world when they released more than 650 political prisoners, and began a dialogue with famed democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi. The Obama Administration has said they are open to lifting sanctions on the country. This latest news proves almost certainly that it’s too early to celebrate, particularly for ethnic minority and refugee women, who have little (if any) security. Here’s a worthwhile interview with Zipporah Sein, a leader in the ethnic minority Karen community, on sexual violence and women’s rights in Myanmar. Via BusinessWeek.
A Picture of Female Friendships, Enduring Across the West Bank Barrier
Peace x Peace, an organization whose goal is to “raise women’s voices, build cultures of peace,” has produced a beautiful short video documenting the enduring friendship of two best friends, one Israeli and one Palestinian. The women meet after being separated from a year and discuss the importance of connecting their families across the wall which separates the West Bank, and of overcoming the conflict of the two states. “Enough is enough; enough is enough; enough is enough,” they chant, as the camera fades to black. The film is called Catalyst Series. Hat tip Gender Across Borders.
Tanzania’s Maternal Deaths Too Slow To Fall, Says First Lady
Mama Kikwete, the First Lady of Tanzania, is a vocal advocate for several global health issues, including maternal and child health. Speaking at an event last week, she declared frustration about the country’s maternal mortality rate, which has been too slow to fall despite concerted efforts and promises to reduce it. She subtly implied that the government could do more. Her husband, President Jakaya Kikwete, is generally a great advocate and voice on these issues. Last year, along with Canadian Prime Minister Harper, he co-chaired an elite panel convened to track progress on the UN’s Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health. It’s not that political will is not there in terms of rhetoric, but actions and results have been far too slow. A lot of talk and too little action is a familiar and perplexing pattern, and makes it nearly impossible for countries to achieve the goal of reducing maternal mortality by three-fourths by 2015. Mama Kikwete also stressed families’ and communities’ responsibilities in reducing the deaths of women in pregnancy and labor, and its a good point where there often is no doctor or equipped facility. Via AllAfrica.com.