Category Archives: War on Women

CDC: Teen Pregnancy Rate Hits All-Time Low

Countries by birth rate in 2008

Countries by birth rate in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CDC has released a report on the birth rate in America for 2012, and the number of teenagers having babies continues its downward trend:

The birth rate for American teens fell to 29.4 births per 1,000 in 2012 — a six percent drop from 2011, alone.

Data shows it fell for all ethnic groups.

To put that into perspective, the report finds it’s the lowest rate in 73 years. That’s how long the government has been keeping track of teen births.

A lot of the progress has been made in the last few years. The birth rate in 2007 was 41.5 births per 1,000 teenage girls — falling almost 30 percent in the last five years.

The Obama Administration has invested in teen-pregnancy-prevention programs. In a shocking coincidence, red states continue to have the highest rates of teen pregnancy.

At the other end of the spectrum, birth rates for women between the ages of thirty and forty-four have increased slightly.

Via the CDC and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


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8-Year-Old “Bride” Dies of Internal Injuries after Night with 40-Year-Old “Husband”

An eight-year old girl identified as “Raman” has died of internal injuries after being raped on first night of her arranged marriage to a man more than five times her age. The incident has sparked outrage in the area, where child-marriage is a contentious issue.

Yemeni officials insist that the journalist who broke the story, Mohammad Radman, is making it up, child brides are not uncommon thing Yemen.

After Nujood Ali, a ten-year-old girl, obtained a divorce from her adult husband, the country tried to make it illegal to marry off girls under the age of fifteen. Conservative activists and lawmakers overturned the law, calling it

English: picture of girl signing a 'nikahnama'...

English: picture of girl signing a ‘nikahnama’, the Muslim marriage certificate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“religious discrimination” against Muslims. As of now, marriage at any age is permitted in the country, but the adult husbands are supposed to wait until the girl is “sexually mature” before he rapes her. Usually, this age is considered to be nine years old.

Child marriage and systemic physical and sexual abuse of women are common in patriarchal societies, where men believe it is their right to raise their own brides to their liking. Victims are often from poor families, who sell their young daughters in order to make ends meet. It is most common in developing nations, like Chad, Niger, Bangladesh and Yemen. However, it’s also occurred in the United States, with the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints and the Yearning for Zion Ranch.

Via Death and Taxes.

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5 Rules for Talking about Rape

English: Miley Cyrus singing in concert

English: Miley Cyrus singing in concert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over at Salon, Katie McDonough has written a piece called “How not to be terrible when talking about rape.” It’s fantastic, and I’ve re-posted it in large part below (with editing for length and language). Head over to Salon to read the original.


Fourteen-year-old girls in juvenile detention facilities do not “consent” to rape by corrections officers. Latex-clad pop stars do not “encourage a teenage culture” in which boys can sexually assault unconscious girls. A thirty-day sentence for a convicted rapist who violated the terms of his rehabilitation programs has not received a sentence “appropriate given the nature of the case.”

A year after the “legitimate rape” comment that killed Todd Akin’s political career, it’s become clear that Akin’s view of sexual violence is how many people talk about rape: quick to blame survivors and excuse perpetrators.

It is so easy to be better. Here are five ways to start.

1. Being sexually assaulted is a tragedy. Going to prison for sexually assaulting someone is not. 

Empathy is a good thing. Empathy for people who commit terrible crimes can be a good thing.

Judge G. Todd Baugh initially agreed with Stacey Dean Rambold’s defense attorney when he argued that Rambold — a forty-nine-year-old teacher who raped his fourteen-year-old student — should not serve the recommended fifteen years behind bars because he had “suffered enough” during his trial.

Rambold’s victim, however, was repeatedly raped by an adult who was legally responsible for her care; she committed suicide at only sixteen years old.

To suggest Rambold’s experience of being found guilty of a crime is on par with the experience of being a victim of that crime is not only offensive — it’s delusional.

Then there was CNN’s commentary on Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the two high school football players found guilty of raping an unconscious teenage girl and, in Mays’ case, circulating photos of the assault. After delivering news of the guilty verdict, correspondent Poppy Harlow lamented:

Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart … when that sentence came down, [Richmond] collapsed in the arms of his attorney … He said to him, “My life is over. No one is going to want me now.”

It isn’t a tragedy when people who commit crimes face consequences. It’s justice.

2. Female sexuality does not ever invite rape.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post ran a piece by Richard Cohen suggesting that Miley Cyrus might be responsible for the crimes committed in Steubenville.

In a story for USA Today, Joanne Bamberger took a similar position, blaming Cyrus for failures of accountability from the criminal justice system. Bamberger cites the pop star’s onstage writhing and grinding as the reason that judges like Baugh think girls like Rambold’s victim are “as much in control of the situation” as their assailants:

Even though [Cyrus] is 20, many of us still see her as the tween/teen star of Disney’s “Hannah Montana,” and maintain a mental image of her as that more wholesome child, even as she struts on stage today, inviting sexual attention. Shows like “16 and Pregnant” reinforce the idea that girls are sexually mature before they graduate from high school. The music industry inundates us with salacious female images, like the Britney Spears/Madonna French-kissing episode ten years ago on same MTV award show.

3. Being anti-rape is not anti-sex.

Only days before the Washington Post ran Cohen’s editorial, they published Betsy Karasik’s musings on why sending a forty-nine-year-old man who raped a fourteen-year-old girl to prison for longer than 30 days is “utter hysteria.” Teachers who rape students, Karasik says, exist on a “nuanced continuum of sexual interactions.”

As Katie Halper recently noted for Salon, a fourteen-year-old girl literally cannot consent to have sex with a forty-nine-year-old man. There is no “sex” between a teacher and a fourteen-year-old student. It is rape. The same goes for the recent trial of a forty-year-old corrections officer who raped an incarcerated fourteen-year-old girl.

The Poytner Institute has a wonderfully concise rule of thumb on distinguishing between rape and sex when reporting on sexual violence: “Describe charges of sex without consent as rape, not anything less … sometimes writers minimize the trauma of rape by describing it as sex or intercourse if the rape doesn’t involve the kind of physical violence that requires medical attention.”

4. Don’t use a stand-up comedian as the crux of your defense of a convicted rapist. 

Seriously. Just don’t do it.

5. “Prison rape” is rape.

Last month, the Daily Beast ran a piece announcing that “true rape” does not happen in prison and that it’s “really not that unusual” for incarcerated people to lie about being sexually assaulted. Mansfield Frazier’s piece (which has since been edited to remove this passage) continued:

Indeed, the vast majority of experienced convicts know that “true” rape is not a common occurrence in prison. That doesn’t mean that homosexual sex doesn’t occur — it certainly does. But it’s really not that unusual for a new prisoner to show up on the compound and begin walking around the yard in pants far too tight. Before long they drop the soap in the shower, get a little close to another naked man, and then — simply because they’ve never been able to come to terms with their own sexuality — tell anyone who will listen (but, interestingly enough, they usually never complain to the guards) that they were “raped.” And a week or two later it could happen again, and then again.

The story generated near-immediate outrage, which the editors responded to by significantly altering the piece and posting a public apology, but the Daily Beast was far from the first media outlet to make light of sexual assault in prison.

On CNN that week, Richard Herman said that Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman, would get “good practice at being a woman” while in prison. Disgusting.

As Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams noted in 2012, minimizing rape in prison isn’t funny. “Ever wonder why, though men make up at least 3 percent of rape victims, the crime so often goes unreported?” Williams asks. “Couldn’t have anything to do with our cultural propensity for turning sexual violence against men into a smug joke?”

Rape doesn’t suddenly become acceptable when it’s committed against a person who is incarcerated. It actually just keeps being rape.

Via Salon.


Filed under Cheers!, Crime and Punishment, If You Were Gay, Sick Sad World, War on Women

Judge Who Sentenced Rapist to 30 Days Orders New Hearing

Seal of Yellowstone County, Montana

Seal of Yellowstone County, Montana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Montana judge who sentenced a teacher to only thirty days for the rape of a former student has ordered a new hearing in the case.

In an order filed Tuesday, Yellowstone County District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh said that the sentence he imposed may be illegal because it departs from the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime. Stacey Dean Rambold, a former Billings Senior High teacher, admitted to raping a fourteen-year-old student who later committed suicide. Rambold received a sentence of fifteen years in prison, with all but thirty-one days suspended, and was given credit for one day served.

In explaining the first sentencing decision, Judge Baugh reasoned that the victim in the case was partly to blame for the assault. Baugh said that she was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold. After sparking international outrage at his remarks and the sentence, the judge apologized for his comments. Last week, 400 people gathered in downtown Billings to protest the sentence and Baugh’s statements.

In the order reconsidering the sentence, Baugh said that the mandatory minimum sentence Rambold should have received appeared to be two years. He explained that he imposed the first sentenced based on a memorandum submitted by the attorney for Rambold, and that prosecutors failed to tell the court that the sentence violated mandatory minimum requirements. The court will hear arguments on re-sentencing Friday.

Via RHRealityCheck.

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At Navy Rape Hearing, Victim Asked If She “Felt Like a Ho” the Next Morning

Midshipmen walking to class at the US Naval Ac...

Midshipmen walking to class at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., the vilification of an alleged rape victim has taken over the past week. At an Article 32 hearing—a preliminary proceeding that determines whether a case goes to court martial—a young woman midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy has been subjected to a humiliating barrage of questions after she came forward to accuse three members of the academy’s football team of raping her at a party after she was incapacitated from drinking.

She said she started to piece together the story of what happened to her the next day, after learning of tweets and hearing from friends suggesting that she had had sex with several men that night.

After the first day of questioning, the Washington Post reported:

The accuser soon came under fire from Andrew Weinstein, an attorney for [alleged perpetrator Tra’ves] Bush, who bombarded her with questions about how often she lies and whether she was wearing a bra and underwear the night of the party.

And it got worse. As the Post’s Petula Dvorak wrote in a subsequent column:

They asked her to describe how wide she opens her mouth during oral sex. They asked her if she “felt like a ho” the next morning.

And Pentagon brass can’t imagine why only 3,374 of the estimated 26,000 recipients of “unwanted sexual contact” in the military dared to come forward in 2012, according to the Defense Department’s own report.

When Congress comes back into session next week, a battle over whether to remove the adjudication of sexual assault cases from the chain of command in all branches of the armed forces will be reignited, as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) continues to lobby her colleagues to sign onto her Military Justice Improvement Act (S.967), which would do just that.

She is opposed by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Via RHRealityCheck.

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September is Abortion Access Month

English: There is a prohibition on the use of ...

English: There is a prohibition on the use of federal government funds for abortion in the United States. However, some states fund abortions out of their own revenues. State funds abortions through legislation State funds abortions under court order (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

September is Abortion Access Month. As it turns out, it takes quite a bit to get an abortion in this country, and accessing safe and legal abortion care is becoming more difficult. One of the biggest hurdles for folks seeking abortion care is the fact that, for many, it is quite simply unaffordable. Who are the folks that cannot afford abortion care?

The National Network of Abortion Funds helps to bridge the gap between a legal abortion and the ability to afford one by fighting laws that undermine access to safe and legal abortion care while helping folks who need abortions today.

The Hyde Amendment means that low-income folks who have their health care covered by Medicaid have to come up with a way to pay for their procedures out-of-pocket, even though the fact that they are on Medicaid means they’re already having trouble making ends meet. Women of color, who are disproportionately poor, bear the brunt of these restrictions. Queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and genderqueer folks – also disproportionately poor– bear a heavy part of this weight. (And yes, trans folks might need an abortion, and reproductive health care is indeed a trans health issue.)

The National Network of Abortion Funds’ annual survey shows that on average, funds are only able to help one of every seven people who contact them for help. The funds are to bridge the gap between what patients have and the cost of an abortion. This process includes determining whether the person lives in a state that covers abortion care via Medicaid (only seventeen do); how much the procedure will cost, how much the person has, and what they could sell to come closer to that amount; whether there is a nearby clinic, and if it requires a waiting period, a mandatory ultrasound, or any other non-medically necessary procedure; whether they have a way to get to the clinic, or a place to stay if it’s a two-day procedure; and details about childcare, elder care, and work schedules.

These are just the logistical concerns. This gap exists because we (as a society) do not treat abortion as health care. We do not take it seriously as a social and medical need. And we devalue the experiences of millions for whom this gap is the difference between getting the care they need and having it unavailable to them.

We must call for an end to the bans on federal funding for abortion care. An abortion costs an average of $451 in the first trimester and can sometimes cost $3,000 or more. This is an impossible sum for many people. Every pregnant person must decide whether to bring a child into the world. We cannot continue to allow religious extremists and politicians to interfere in a family’s decision about how many children to have and when to have them.

That is why this month is Abortion Access Month. September 30 is the 38th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, and September 28th is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. During this month, be motivated to end the deep disparity created by politicians withholding federal funds, and to remember that we are the experts on our own lives. We deserve the tools and opportunity to build the futures and families we want and need. We invite you to join us and add your voice to a loud and unapologetic call to all our policymakers: let’s end the unequal health care system that treats reproductive health care as something separate from all other health care. Let’s repeal the Hyde Amendment!

Join @abortionfunds with #ACCESS13 for more information about what you can do. But, please start by signing the petition to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

Via Feministing.

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Poll: 66% Opposed to Ban on Abortion after 20 Weeks

Planned Parenthood volunteers help bring the f...

Planned Parenthood volunteers help bring the fight for health insurance reform to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sixty-six percent of people believe that abortions should be legal after twenty weeks if the woman would “suffer serious long-term health problems” from a full-term pregnancy, according to a new survey.

Sixty-one percent said the procedure should be legal in cases when the fetus is not viable, or when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

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Filed under Health, National, Polls, Science, War on Women