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Reported Sexual Assaults in Military Skyrocket As Air Force Chief of Ending Assault Charged With Sexual Battery

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Esmeralda Garcia, a health care assistant at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Edinburg, speaks with a client, Adriana Olvera. Eddie Seal for The New York Times

Great news for the poor women of Texas! The New York Times reports that legislators on both sides of the aisle are quietly working to restore financing for women’s health services in the state.The story reports that Dems aren’t falling on their sword for Planned Parenthood — a statement we find misleading, because the PP issue is already taken care of through the recent funding of a Texas women’s health coalition, of which Planned Parenthood is a key member.

“The major difference is we’re not fighting about it. We’re just doing what’s right for women and the state,” State Representative Sarah Davis, Republican of West University Place, said last month at a Texas Tribune symposium on health care.

While Davis is opposed to abortion, she is even more opposed to politicians interfering with the doctor/patient relationship. The Republican woman has emerged as the chief architect of a plan to restore the devastating cuts to poor women’s health services, including access to contraception.

As poor women in particular have suffered at the hands of the Republican War on Women in Texas, the tide may be turning. Further denying women abortion rights is in a holding pattern, with NONE of the 24 abortion-related bills filed reaching the House or Senate floor.

Military Assault Skyrocket

Responding angrily Tuesday to a new report on the steep rise of sexual assault in the military, New York Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand cold barely contain her anger at Air Force Secretary Michael Conley. The Pentagon says that in 2012 alone, 26,000 members of the military were sexually assaulted, a 35 percent rise since 2011.

Next week Gillibrand will introduce a bill that removes decision-making on sexual assault cases from the chain of command, says Glen Caplin, the senator’s communications director.

“You have an enormous gap between the number of sex assaults that are occurring and the number of sex assaults that are being reported,” Caplin said. According to the Department of Defense, 47 percent of servicemembers said they didn’t report sexual assaults and harassment for fear of retaliation.

Presently, the military operates under a code called “convening authority”, giving military commanders the power to overturn court-martial decisions, including those dealing with rape.

Gillibrand’s bill would apply Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel’s recent suggestion that “convening authority” be eliminated, by amending the Uniform Military Code of Justice’s Article 60 so so that “convening authorities” cannot set aside convictions or change guilty ones. Her bill would also add independent prosecutors who decide whether a case warrants a court-martial, but reserve commanders’ convening authority for the cases that aren’t moved forward in this new process.

Sens. Patty Murray D-Wash and Kelly Ayotte R-NH introduced legislation to amend Pentagon policies while creating new laws to help victims.

“Murray and Ayotte’s bill, the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act, would guarantee victims access to an advocacy lawyer to guide them through the reporting, investigation and criminal law process following an allegation,” writes the Air Force Times.

Air Force Chief Charged

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, charged with sexual battery.The Air Force officer in charge of the the branch’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit was charged with a misdemeanor offence of groping a woman in a parking lot on May 6, 2013. The misdemeanor sexual battery charge alleges that Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman’s breast and buttocks. The woman fought back before calling police.

Responding to the news, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said “We’re all outraged and disgusted over these very troubling allegations.”

Hagel said he would hold military commanders accountable “at every level,” improve the treatment of assault victims and conduct regular inspections of military workplaces to guard against “materials that create a degrading and offensive work environment,” writes Bloomberg.

The Air Force is “still reeling” from the convictions of at least five military instructors in sexual assault or unprofessional relationships with trainees or students at San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base.

Krusinski, who has served in his post since February, posted a $5,000 bond and was removed from his job pending an investigation.


UN Passes Historic Code To Combat Violence Against Women | Why Philadelphia Women Need Earned Sick Days Bill

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1. Moms and Dads 1965-2011: Roles Converge but ‘traditional’ realms remain. Fifty years after Betty Friedan’s book ‘The Feminine Mystique’, Americans remain conflicted about what is best for children. In this recent Pew Research survey of 2,511 adults and an analysis of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), only 16% say it’s best for a young child to have a mother who works full time. 42% of adults say mothers working part-time is ideal, and one-third say that mothers shouldn’t work outside of the home. 

Perhaps due to financial pressures, the number of women wanting to work full time with children has increased from 20% in 2007 to 32% in 2012. 

Note that in 1997, 32% of mothers said they wanted to work full time. 

2. Senators are considering removing military commanders from rape cases. Hearings on rape in the military began on Wednesday, by the Senate Armed Services subcomittee chaired by New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. 

Testifying before the senate committee, Rebekhah Havrilla reported seeking support and guidance from a military chaplain about her rape.  The chaplain told her “that the rape was God’s will and that God was trying to get my attention so that I would go back to church,” she stated. 

The hearings on sexual assault in the military are the first in a decade. 

“The Pentagon estimates that 19,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in 2010 alone, with only 13.5 percent of those reported and an even smaller percentage, 191 cases, convicted. In 2011, Gillibrand said, only 240 cases proceeded to trial”, writes The Daily Beast.

The military estimates that about 56% of the victims are men — a fact not widely reported. Presently commanders decide whether or not a military case will be pursued. 

3. When 5,000 women marched up DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue, demanding the vote, their New Woman clothing sent a clear message.

 Advancing a stereotype that burst on the scene around 1890, this ‘New Woman’ was middle class, bolder, more active and worldly, and definitely more outspoken than mom’s generation, says Alden O’Brien of the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum. 

The Atlantic investigates the loosening up of women’s fashions and end of the brief fad ‘hobble skirts’ that kept women from getting anywhere fast. Across the Atlantic, Coco Chanel was embarking on an illustrious career, ultimately challenging women to give up the ‘illogical’ designs of male couturiers. From the woman who gave us trousers and jersey fabric, there was no room for waist cinchers or padded bras.  

Related: most people don’t know that Coco Chanel also gave the world suntans. Read on in AOC Body

4. UN passes historic code to combat violence against women. In an almost miraculous event attended by some 6,000 non-government groups from around the world, a deadlock between Western countries on the one hand and Muslim countries plus the Vatican on the other, was broken and agreement reached around language stating that violence against women could not be justified by “Any custom, tradition or religious consideration.”

Michelle Bachelet, the head of the UN women’s agency and former president of Chile called “historic”. The Muslim Brotherhood opposed the document along with Catholic countries. 

The head of Egypt’s delegation, politician and diplomat Mervat Tallawy, surprised delegates when she ignored the Brotherhood and announced that Egypt would join consensus. “I believe in women’s cause. I don’t take money from the government. I work voluntarily. If they want to kick me out they can. But I will not change my belief in women,” she said. “Women are the slaves of this age. This is unacceptable, and particularly in our region.”

5. We update readers on the dire situation for poor women in Texas, as Texas officials proceed with their crusade to defund Planned Parenthood.

Mother Jones reports that Texas is now funding 176 fewer health clinics for poor women than it did in 2011. 53 health clinics in Texas have been forced to close with budget cuts. 39 of those clinics have no affiliation with Planned Parenthood and zero performed abortions. 

200,000 low-income women in Texas have already lost or soon will lose access to birth control, cancer screenings and other critical preventative care. Before these cuts, half of all pregnancies in Texas were unplanned. 

It’s estimated that an additional 24,000 births will occur in 2014-15 costing taxpayers up to $273 million — unless that safety net is abolished in the state of Texas as well. 

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In Sisterhood

Soraya Chemaly

Steubenville: We’re Sick and Tired Of Rape Being Treated Lika An Unavoidable Joke Huffington Post

Yesterday, in our fatiguing chronicling of rape, the Steubenville rape trial began.  ABC reported that two boys “took liberties” (such an interesting turn of phrase if you think about it) with a drunk girl and now face rape charges. Attorneys for the defendants, two star football players (as everyone is intent on reminding us), argued that the boys did not rape a drunk 16-year old girl, whom they performed sexual acts on, because she “didn’t say no.”  The lawyers are asking the court to believe that there was no nonconsensual contact during a long night in which these boys (just like these boys) put their fingers into the girl’s vagina, attempted to have her perform oral sex (she couldn’t hold her mouth open), allegedly urinated on her and were photographed dragging her around by her hands and feet. As one of the boys was quoted saying in a tonally rape-friendly media piece, “It just felt like she was coming on to me.”  Which, of course, is clear license to treat a living girl like an inflatable silicon sex doll.

If traditional coverage and similar cases in the recent past are any indication, what will inevitably evolve in the next few weeks is a media narrative about these boys, their football aspirations, their dashed hopes, and their basic all-American Boy Goodness. 

Anne Doyle


It’s Sheryl Sandberg’s Courage To Raise Her Voice That’s Not News, Not Leaning In Forbes Woman

And thank you, Sheryl,  for doing something even more courageous: bringing the “F” word out of the closet. When was the last time you heard a nationally-known businesswoman, particularly one of Forbes’ 20 Most Powerful Women In Business, describe herself as a feminist?

Caryn Hunt

Why Philadelphia Women Need The Earned Sick Days Bill AOC Women

Four out of five of the lowest income workers in Philadelphia – an estimated 210,000 employees, primarily in the hospitality and care-giving sectors, a majority of them women – have no provision for paid sick days. So if they or a family member gets sick, tough luck. Many workers that do have paid sick days are not able to use them to care for family members. When workers are not allowed to take sick days, illness spreads, forcing formerly healthy people, people who were simply eating lunch, or whose child is friends with a child who should have stayed home, to have to use their own sick days – if they’ve got them.

The Earned Sick Days Bill, Bill 130004, would mandate that Philadelphia employers with five or more employees allow their workers to accrue time that can be used toward paid sick days off. It works like this: for every forty hours on the job, you become eligible for one hour of paid sick leave. For small businesses, there is a cap at four days per year. 


Eve Ensler Appeals to Michigan Gov Snyder on New Abortion Laws As Texas Searches for Contraception Funding

Eve Ensler has sent an emergency video to Michigan women from the Philippines about the most anti-woman legislation passed during Michigan’s lame duck session. Click here to hear video on Facebook.

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Michigan state legislators have passed laws eliminating insurance coverage of abortions and imposing medically unnecessary regulations on providers of women’s reproductive health services.

The first measure bars insurance coverage for abortion services without the purchase of an additional “rider” at added expense. This legislation extends extends the restriction to health insurance exchanges created through the health insurance exchanges that are part of Obamacare, as well as private insurance plans sold outside the exchanges.

The Michigan legislation provides for a single exception for life of the mother, but not rape or incest.

In passing these lame duck session laws, Michigan legislators have shown clearly that they could care less about the voters of Michigan who made their views regarding the Republican War on Women loud and clear in November.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney failed to carry his original home state in November. Michigan Democrats picked up five seats in the state House in November, but the GOP will still have a 59-51 edge during the 2013-2014 session. There were no state Senate races in 2012, leaving the Michigan Senate in Republican hands with a wide margin of 26-12.

Michigan legislators also put new restrictions on reproductive health offices in an effort to close them. Facilities that provide 120 or more abortions a year will be regulated as “mini-hospitals”, even in the absence of established medical or safety needs.

Lastly, doctors are forbidden to counsel low-income and rural women online on matters of reproductive health. “Under such a regimen, patients are examined at a local health clinic by an on-site professional and then electronically consult with a doctor working at a different location who would review her health records, answer questions, and approve the pills,” writes the New York Times.

Texas vs Planned Parenthood

Texas’ request to force the US Health and Human Services to continue funding its Women’s Health Program even though the state has virtually eliminated Planned Parenthood as a service provider has failed in federal court.

The Texas decision affects an estimated 130,000 low-income women receiving a wide variety of basic health care services from Planned Parenthood. Texas had demanded that the federal government continue delivering funds to the state, a request denied by US District Court Judge Walter Smith.

Texas insists that it has found $40 million necessary to fund substitute services provided by Planned Parenthood, without any abortions. The funding is in place through September 2013, says the state, with $70 million of federal funds being cut off on December 31, 2012.

The state’s Health and Human Services Commission projects that without the federal funds, low-income women will deliver an estimated 23,760 additional babies during 2014 and 2015. The commission projects that state taxpayers will have to shoulder an additional $273 million in medical expenses and Medicaid coverage for those infants.

Their projection was previously on the table when the Texas nonpartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that the proposed cuts would lead to 284,000 women losing their family planning services. Social conservative legislators insisted they were willing to pay the price — but of course, THEY DON’T pay the price.

Poor women pay the price, and the statistics on the downward spiral of unplanned pregnancy victims and their babies in the state of Texas is already at the bottom of the heap nationwide. Several media sources report that legislators are trying to reinstate family planning funding without Planned Parenthood — even though that organization is best equipped to meet the family planning needs of the poor women of Texas.

Texas 5* Unwed Pregnancy State

You Want to Defund Planned Parenthood & Title X? Look at Texas AOC Sensual Rebel

Texas As An Example of What’s Ahead for States March 2011

The state of Texas has some of the most restrictive policies in the US regarding minors’ access to prescription birth control without parental consent, according to the Dallas Morning News. Texas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy live births in America, according to a 2010 Guttmacher Institute report, while the state ranks 4th in overall pregnancy rate.

While we all celebrate the new survey results suggesting that sexual activity may be down among teens, Texas is a real-world look at what’s ahead for taxpayers. In terms of educational test scores, Texas is at the bottom.

  • Texas is #49 in verbal SAT scores in the nation (493) and #46 in average math SAT scores (502).
  • Texas is #36 in the nation in high school graduation rates (68%).

A Vicious Cycle

Only 40 percent of teen moms giving birth at age 17 or earlier finish high school. About 23 percent of young mothers earn a GED, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The facts are that daughters of teen mothers are three times more likely to become teen parents than girls with older moms. Sons born to teen parents are more likely to be incarcerated. Note that the Texas Department of State Health Services quotes the Guttmacher Institute extensively.