GJC Weekly News Roundup

By Julia d'Amours

Chile proceeds with the repeal of its total anti-abortion laws. In August, legislation was presented to permit abortion in three cases: if the life of the mother was in danger, if it the fetus would not survive, or if the pregnancy was a result of rape. Lawyers argued that a total abortion ban was inhumane and a violation of women’s rights. Though polls indicate more than 70 percent of the population supports more lenient abortion laws, the Catholic Church and elite upper class staunchly opposed the bill. The repeal is considered a major victory in women’s rights and reproductive rights, and many hope it will lead to similar legislation in the region.

Last Friday, Kenya’s Supreme Court ruled that the re-election of the sitting president would be revisited after discovery that the vote counts had been irregular. It is the first example in Africa in which a court voided the re-election of an incumbent. Many are at unease considering Kenya’s fragile political landscape—the last disputed election in 2007 resulted in at least 1,300 dead and 600,000 displaced around the country.

On Sunday, Cambodia arrested Kem Sokha, the main opposition leader, accusing him of treason. This follows accounts of government harassment on the free press and expulsion of NGOs, such as the pro-democracy National Democratic Institute. A Human Rights Watch official called the arrest “a disastrous setback” for Cambodia as the country prepares for elections next year.

On Monday, Malala Yousafzi joined an increasing number of human rights activists in publicly criticizing Myanmar’s effective leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma. More than 73,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh after they were attacked by Burmese military factions on August 25th. The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar has described the situation as “grave.” Widely seen as a champion of democracy, Suu Kyi has remained quiet on the subject of the Rohingya.

On Tuesday, President Trump broke headlines by announcing the end of DACA—the federal program that protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. He claimed DACA’s establishment was an abuse of electoral power and rebuking it would establish rule of law. Many of those enrolled in DACA already have families, started careers, or enrolled in higher education in the US. Permits that are set to expire in the next six months will be renewed, but the Department of Homeland Security will stop processing new applications for the program. Officials say there will be no formal guidance that former DACA recipients are not eligible for deportation.

On Wednesday, the Trump Administration introduced a Security Council resolution that would empower the United States Navy and Airforce to interdict North Korean ships and evaluate if their cargo contains military equipment. It also included a ban on the shipment of crude oil, petroleum, and natural gas, which would have severe results for the North Korean population as winter approaches, and aims to block the assets of Kim Jong-un. The resolution is careful not to encompass a total blockade, which is an act of war, but permits the US and UNSC to “nonconsensual inspections.”

On Thursday, a federal appeals court permitted thousands of refugees who had been blocked by President Trumps’ travel ban to enter the country. Since June, the government has frozen refugee resettlement applications and brought resettlement programs to a standstill.  Yesterday’s ruling mandated that the government resume refugee resettlements in the next five days. It also upheld a lower court decision that exempted grandparents and other relatives from the ban. A Justice Department representative remarked that they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Also on Thursday, the High Court of Australia ruled that a postal survey on the legalization of gay marriage was legitimate, despite the objections of same-sex marriage advocates. The results of the survey could not make same-sex marriage legal or illegal, but it could spark a vote in Parliament. Polls suggest that a “yes” vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage will prevail. The results will be announced the 15th of November.

Photo by Alsidare Hickson 

GJC Weekly News Roundup

Monday, in response to Donald Trump’s expanded Global Gag Rule, Lilianne Ploumen, minister of foreign trade and development cooperation in the Netherlands, created a non-governmental organization called “She Decides.” The NGO vows to raise money for aid groups who are suffering financial losses due to the Gag Rule. The Dutch ministry announced that it will donate 10 million euros to the organization.

Tuesday, President Trump introduced new deportation rules that allow more expulsions. These new rules will allow the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport more immigrants immediately and put pressure on resources, staffing and budget.

Tuesday, Norway pledged millions to counter Trump’s Global Gag Rule. Norway joins countries like Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium in taking a stance against President Trump’s global abortion policy.

Wednesday, it was announced that with the aid of Germany, a new and beneficial trauma unit specializing in mental help will open and treat women who are former Islamic State sex slaves. This initiates dialogue regarding psychological trauma and the proper treatment and resources that women need after such traumatizing experiences.

Thursday, it was asked, is anyone leading the feminist movement in President Trump’s cabinet? Seems not. While it is still uncertain what particular roles the First Lady, Melania Trump, and the President’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, will have in the Trump administration, their stance on current issues regarding universal healthcare, availability of abortions and reproductive rights, as well as gender equality, seem to align closer with the policies of President Trump and his cabinet, rather than a progressive, feminist agenda.

Friday,  a report shown a light on the negative consequences of the expanded Global Gag Rule enacted by President Trump in places like Kenya and across Africa. Lack of access to safe medical procedures, including abortions, is leading to a rise in maternal deaths nationwide.

GJC Weekly News Roundup


Sunday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister announced that while Sweden has the presidency of the UN Security Council they want to focus on the involvement of women in peace processes. Giving women a voice in decision making is crucial to protect in conflicts.

Monday, the Burmese Union Election Commission revealed the parliamentary candidates for the upcoming election. Of the 95 candidates, 16 are women. This is a positive step in the progress against women’s exclusion in politics in Myanmar.  

Also Monday, Yazda – an NGO supporting the Yazidi in Iraq – was without any warning or reason shut down by the Kurdish authorities according to Human Rights Watch. ISIS has been committing genocide against the Yazidi since 2014. Iraq is a party of the Genocide Convention, and must fulfil its obligationsto prevent this genocide.

Thursday, GOP announced that they plan to defund Planned Parenthood. Denying women their right to abortion violates human rights.

Also Thursday, the World Economic Forum released a report that the US spends $13.6 trillion yearly on conflict related activities whilst spending nothing on peace-building. Providing an abortion to raped women in conflict areas is one peace-building effort.

GJC Weekly News Roundup

Tuesday, the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to ISIS slavery survivors Nadia Murad and Lamya Haji Bashar. As the nominees voiced themselves, the EU must go beyond a prize and recognize the ongoing genocide of Yazidi and prosecute the perpetrators.

Wednesday, it was reported that women in Aleppo commit suicide to escape being raped by ISIS. The international community must act to stop ISIS from committing these non-killing crimes of genocide.

Wednesday, a study investigating the impact of having or being denied abortion on woman’s mental health was published. The study concluded that denying women abortion can affect the woman’s mental health negatively, and that abortion restrictions cannot be justified with the argument that it harms women’s health. Denying women safe abortion is in some cases can constitute torture and violate human rights.

Wednesday, the Obama administration finalized an amendment that protects Planned Parenthood and similar clinic’s federal funding. Abortion restrictions on US foreign funding has a huge influence on the humanitarian agenda, hindering women’s right to abortion around the world.

Wednesday, the Human Rights Council opened a special session discussing human rights issues, including gender-based violence such as rape, and the prevention of genocide in South Sudan. The international community must hold perpetrators of genocide to account and recognize gender components in genocide.

Photo: European Parliament

GJC Weekly News Roundup