India passes nondiscrimination law securing rights for people with HIV
- The first of its kind in South Asia, the law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare, and public accommodations such as restaurants and calls for the establishment of an ombudsman to monitor violations.
- An estimated 2.1 million people live with HIV in India, with some 1 million currently receiving treatment.
- Some advocates for the positive community argued that the law does not go far enough to guarantee free treatment for the afflicted.
“Parliament clears landmark HIV Bill” (The Hindu | April 2017)
“What is HIV/AIDS Bill? All your questions answered” (The Indian Express | April 2017)
“India takes flawed first step towards ending HIV and Aids prejudice” (The Guardian | April 2017)
(Image Credit: Jayanta Dey/Reuters, via The Guardian)
Severe drug shortages leave Venezuelans with epilepsy and their families struggling
- With 85 of every 100 drugs missing, Venezuela faces an acute shortage of pharmaceutical drugs needed to treat a range of otherwise manageable illnesses, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, HIV, and cancer.
- Families report traveling hundreds of miles to obtain necessary drugs, sourcing from abroad, and taking expired or inappropriate medication.
- President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the shortage on a right-wing plot to overthrow him and announced new counteractive investments, although little progress has been seen.
“Epileptics struggle amid drug shortages in Venezuela” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Venezuela Is Falling Apart” (The Atlantic | May 2016)
“‘You name it, we can’t treat it.’” (Caracas Chronicles | March 2016)
“Falta de medicinas descompensa a los pacientes psiquiátricos” (El Universal | August 2014)
(Image Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlings/Reuters)
Pro-choice advocates push to expand abortion window in India
- Indian women can currently obtain an abortion up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy, after which termination procedures are legally permissible only on a case-by-case basis in cases of danger to maternal health.
- Advocates argue that many victims of sex crimes do not report pregnancies until late, leaving a very small window of time to abort the pregnancy.
- Advocates are now pushing to extend the window to 24 weeks and to equip doctors with the legal power to grant abortions rather than forcing women to pursue permission through law enforcement and the courts.
“Victims of sex crime race strict Indian abortion deadline” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | February 2017)
“India’s population surges as men remain reluctant to use contraceptive measures” (The Hindustan Times | February 2017)
“US abortion funding cuts hit Indian NGOs” (The Economic Times | January 2017)
Global Women’s Marches
On the day following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, millions gathered in demonstrations taking place across all seven continents in support of women’s rights. Trump, who was elected despite having been accused of sexual assault by at least two dozen women, ran a campaign that attacked reproductive rights, disparaged high-profile women (including his opponent, Hillary Clinton), and equivocated on issues like gender pay equity, and of the 25 members of his incoming senior leadership team, only three are women. From Austin to Antarctica, women and allies around the world mobilized around issues including women’s security, reproductive rights, racial and immigration justice, climate change, and LGBTQ rights.
Source: The New York Times (YouTube)
Europe & Africa
Source: ODN (YouTube)
Asia Pacific & Antarctica
Source: Reuters (YouTube)
Seeking Justice for Prisoners with Disabilities in the U.S.
Source: Disability Rights Washington YouTube
The failure of prisons to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ruled applicable to prisons in 1998, has created a quagmire within the criminal justice system: although people with disabilities are incarcerated at rates far higher than their demographic proportion and comprise nearly a third of the total prison population, they are funneled into systems that refuse to follow the law when it comes to adapting their protocols and facilities to those disabilities. Beyond the mass incarceration of people with disabilities, once incarcerated, disabled people face longer sentencing, solitary confinement, inaccessible vocational training, poor education administration, and limited medical access, exacerbating the negative effects of physical and mental illnesses and creating cycles of re-marginalization and inadequate preparation for release.
VICE News examines the impact of incarceration on people with disabilities and attempts to advocate on their behalf given the numerous conflicts of interest present in the reporting and petitioning process.
“Punished Twice” (VICE News)
“Making Hard Time Harder” (The AVID Prison Project, June 2016)
“Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons” (The Center for American Progress)
Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Disabled Prisoners (The American Civil Liberties Union)
Ohio governor signs abortion ban into law
- The bill criminalizes abortion procedures after 20 weeks of gestation (currently 145 out of the nearly 21,000 abortions performed in Ohio), including because of rape, incest, or severe fetal anomalies.
- Governor John Kasich vetoed a second controversial bill known as the “Heartbeat Bill” that would have banned abortion procedures as soon as a fetal pulse is detected, which occurs around six weeks of pregnancy (or around two weeks after a woman is able to determine her pregnancy status).
- The bills emerged as anti-abortion activists have been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, signaling what they believe will be a new era in abortion politics given the precariousness of the current Supreme Court makeup.
“Gov. John Kasich vetoes Heartbeat Bill, signs 20-week abortion ban” (The Columbus Dispatch)
“Kasich vetoes ‘heartbeat bill,’ signs less restrictive abortion ban” (Cincinnati.com)
“Ohio’s governor is weighing 2 abortion bans. Nobody’s talking about the one he might actually sign.” (Vox)
Tanzania suspends funding for HIV/AIDS programs supporting queer men as crackdown grows
- The country’s health minister indicated the programs had been suspended “pending a review,” while programs supporting adolescent girls, drug users, and others will continue uninterrupted.
- The government has accused some community-based and internationally funded programs of normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their outreach to queer men, some 25% of whom are living with HIV.
- Though same-sex relations are punishable by up to 30 years in prison in the country, the government only recently broke its silence on the issue to condemn groups “promoting” homosexuality, with a number of officials having announced anti-LGBT campaigns.
“Tanzania suspends HIV/AIDS programs in new crackdown on gays” (The Washington Post)
“Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men, says health minister” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
“‘Seeds of hate’ sown as Tanzania starts LGBT crackdown” (The Guardian, August 2016)
(Image Credit: Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)