From the November-December 2019 issue of News & Letters
In September, in Morocco, over 7,000 women and some men put themselves at risk of arrest by signing a statement that they have broken “unfair and obsolete” laws. Laws against abortion and sex outside of marriage are frequently broken but selectively enforced against political dissidents. The statement was written by author Leila Slimani and filmmaker Sonia Terrab and published on the front page of Le Monde. It was prompted by Hajar Raissouni, a 28-year-old reporter whose arrest for unmarried sex and abortion is widely thought to be politically motivated and sparked protests. Terrab stated, “I am amazed at how strong and courageous Moroccan women are right now—especially the young ones.”
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Thousands of South African women and male allies demonstrated in September at the Cape Town parliament for days, protesting governmental failure to address increasing violence against women. They wore black cloths and chains; signs read, “Enough is Enough,” “My Body is Not Your Crime Scene,” “Actions Not Words,” “NotInMyName,” and “SAShutDown.” President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the crowd, promising reforms, but a banner read “Cyril Isn’t Serious.” Protesters marched around the Johannesburg stock exchange, shutting down parts of South Africa’s financial capital. At Vancouver City Centre Station, Canadian women held a solidarity march.
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In Canada, in September, the Ontario Provincial Police announced that in May it would no longer release the genders of crime suspects and victims. Myrna Dawson of the Canadian Femicide Observatory stated, “…[I]f they go this route, there is no way to track men’s violence against women and there’s no way to track transphobic violence.” Feminist writer Heather Mallick stated, “secrecy harms women,” and likened it to the Alberta police’s earlier refusal to provide names of women murdered by their partners to “protect family privacy.”
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In September, the Mexican state of Oaxaca decriminalized abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Activist Magaly Lopez stated illegal abortions are the third largest cause of maternal deaths in that state. She said, “The women who die are poor and cannot pay for safe abortions. They are judged and sentenced to death by a system which believes it is dangerous for them to make decisions about their bodies.” Mexico City is the only other jurisdiction to decriminalize abortion, and 20 states have placed constitutional prohibitions on it. The Mexican supreme court recently allowed abortions in cases of rape, and a bill before Congress would offer amnesty to women convicted for an abortion.