The Feminist News Feed: Abortion Expansion, Justice Reform, Trans Rights, and More

Abortion Expansion, Justice Reform, Trans Rights, and More The Feminist News Feed

The Feminist News Feed is a podcast where we discuss the biggest news stories affecting gender equality through a feminist lens. A summary of our discussion for the second half of March 2022 can be found below.

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Abortion Provider Safe Zones in New Zealand

New Zealand parliament has voted to create safe zones around abortion providers, making it illegal for people to obstruct, film in an intimidating manner, dissuade or protest against those trying to access abortion within 150 metres of providers. This amendment was fought for in the original legislation legalizing abortion but failed to pass. The government has now rectified that omission with a vote of 108 in favour and 12 against.

Trans Women Being Turned Away at the Ukrainian Border

While many people are fleeing the war in Ukraine, trans women are reportedly being turned away at the border. Martial law which was implemented on 24th February prevents any men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country. Legally recognized trans women are being physically inspected by Ukrainian border security, misgendered, and turned away from the safety of neighbouring countries.

One trans woman, Judis, interviewed by The Guardian is quoted as defiantly proclaiming, “I want to be free to do what I want in life. I will try again to cross the border because it’s my right to leave and to live. And I will not remain silent. I will not be held prisoner.”

In addition, LGBTQ+ associations and human rights defenders are warning that trans people will be at risk from anti-LGBT+ Russian policies, and are running out of hormones because of pharmacy closures and a lack of medicine across the country.

Trans rights at risk from the UK Conservative Party

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made some concerning remarks recently that may harm trans rights, including claiming that “the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important” when speaking about the protection and rights of trans people. He was hailed by anti-trans groups for these comments. Later at a private dinner for Conservative Party MPs, he opened a speech with another mocking remark about the trans community.

The morning after this incident, a Conservative MP present at the dinner, Jamie Wallis, announced that they are transgender. Jamie has not yet begun to transition, but wants to start living their truth by telling everyone about their identity.

Johnson has publicly shown his support for Jamie, even after making light of trans identities in private.

Met Officers Removed from Frontline Duty After Strip Search of Child Q

In December 2020, a 15-year-old black schoolgirl, anonymized as Child Q, was strip-searched by Metropolitan police officers at her school without an appropriate adult in the room. She was menstruating at the time. She was targeted over unfounded suspicions she had cannabis, and a council report has found that racism had been a likely factor in her treatment. Two of the five officers who were involved in the incident have now been removed from frontline duties

In the wake of outrage over Child Q’s treatment, a report has been released that of the 5,279 children arrested and strip-searched in the past three years, 3,939 (75%) were from ethically diverse backgrounds in an area that is 60% white. 16 of these children were between 10 and 12 years old. This number only includes children arrested, meaning many children, including Child Q, who were never arrested are not included in the statistics of children strip-searched.

Restrictive Laws Re-introduced in Afghanistan

The Taliban in Afghanistan has announced a series of restrictive laws in a self-reported attempt to steer the country back to the late 1990s, when the Taliban had banned women from education and public spaces, and outlawed music, television and many sports. The new laws include barring women from boarding planes without a male relative, and banning girls from school after 11-years old. The latter exclusion from education breaks a promise made by the Taliban to the international community.

More Rape Survivors in The UK able to Give Pre-recorded Testimony

The UK Government has announced an expansion to a provision which allows rape and modern-slavery survivors to give pre-recorded video evidence outside of a live trial, instead of having to testify in front of a full court. This provision will make a huge difference for rape victims who are often re-traumatised by giving evidence in court and facing their alleged abuser. It may also lower attrition rates which are appallingly high in rape cases. In the 12 months to September 2021, only 1.3% of the 63,136 rape offences recorded by police resulted in a suspect being charged.

The current plan is to expand the provision to north-east England, with the intention of eventually offering this nation-wide.

Expansion of Abortion Pills by Post in England

In August 2020, the UK Government introduced a service where cis women and other pregnant people could order abortion pills to take at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Parliament has just voted to make this service permanent in England after pressure from pro-choice advocates influenced the outcome of the conscious vote in the parliament. The Conservative Party was planning to end the service in September, however in the end, 72 Conservative MPs voted in favour. This decision brings England into line with Wales, and Scotland is planning the same.

About 150,000 women have used this service since it was introduced. Making it permanent will particularly benefit those in most need such as those in abusive relationships, those with caring responsibilities, and those without transport.

Primary News Sources

Photo by Produtora Midtrack from Pexels.

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