September 12, 2022
Let’s all move to Scotland, where period products are free
By Agustina Ordoqui
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SCOTLAND — Menstrual products are now free to all who need them in Scotland, the first country in the world to do so. Since August, tampons, sanitary pads and other products are all available in public places such as pharmacies and community centres around the country in an attempt to combat period poverty. People can find collection points via an app. Other countries such as New Zealand provide free period products in schools, but so far only Scotland has extended its school programme to the entire nation. Last year, the UK eliminated a tax on menstrual products to make them cheaper to buy.
CHILE — Voters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposed new constitution in a referendum. The draft constitution would have been one of the most gender-progressive in the world, enshrining the right to legal abortion and 50% representation of women in official positions. The draft also included recognition of land rights for Chile’s indigenous people. But 62% of the electorate voted against it, and President Gabriel Boric has vowed to come up with a new strategy for abandoning the Pinochet-era constitution that is still in place.
SPAIN — After a long legislative process, Spain has finally adopted its « only yes means yes” law on sexual assault. The Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Act establishes that « consent will only exist when it has been freely manifested », while any act without consent will be punished as sexual aggression. Crimes will be tried in specialised courts, with judges and prosecutors trained in gender issues. The law also establishes financial assistance for people who experience gender-based violence, and it will no longer be necessary to file a criminal complaint to be acknowledged as a victim.
AFGHANISTAN — Dozens of women defied the Taliban by marching on the ministry of education on the eve of the first anniversary of the regime’s takeover of Afghanistan. The protesters, who demanded “bread, work and freedom”, were violently dispersed by security forces. Since taking power, the Taliban have banned women from certain jobs, and prevented girls from returning to secondary school. Women must wear the burqa or niqab in public places, and are not permitted to travel without a male guardian. Some organisations are helping girls keep studying in clandestine schools.
BRAZIL — For the first time in Brazil’s history, women represent one third of the candidates for the upcoming elections at federal, state and district levels. In total, 9,415 women will run for office in October. There are four women candidates for president out of a total of 12: Vera Lúcia, Simone Tebet, Soraya Thronicke and Sofia Manzano, though none of them are among the favourites. Women represent 53% of the Brazilian electorate, but only 15% of representatives in the lower house.
UK — England and Wales have guaranteed access to at-home abortion services as of August 30. Women and pregnant people can continue to use abortion pills at home via teleconsultation with a doctor within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. For minors, the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health will publish guidance to guarantee safety during an at-home abortion. Access to abortion from home was temporarily granted from March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that legislation expired on August 29. The Conservative government had planned to abolish the scheme, but chose to maintain it after an outcry from women’s rights groups and clinicians.
SAN MARINO — Abortion is now legal in the tiny European country of San Marino. The law was approved by parliament in August, almost a year after citizens expressed their support for decriminalisation in a referendum. The new law allows anyone to terminate a pregnancy of up to 12 weeks on demand, with longer gestational limits in cases of danger to life or serious risk to health, foetal anomalies, rape or incest. It also provides emergency contraception for minors without parental permission or doctor’s prescription. Before the law was passed, abortion was punishable by up to six years in prison.
US — Indiana will ban abortions from September 15, except in cases of foetal abnormality, risk to health or life (up to 20 weeks gestation), rape or incest (up to ten weeks). It’s the first state to pass an anti-abortion law after the overturning of Roe v Wade in June. Other states, including Texas, Idaho and Tennessee, have automatically restricted abortion with so-called trigger laws. In Idaho, a federal judge blocked a ban on abortion in cases where the pregnant person requires emergency care.
IRAN — Zahra Sedighi Hamedani and Elham Chubdar, two LGBTQIA+ rights activists, have been sentenced to death in Iran for “promoting lesbianism” and “spreading corruption on earth”. A third woman, Soheila Ashrafi, faces the same charges, although she has not yet been sentenced. The information was released by the human rights organisation Hengaw. Iran’s penal code criminalises same-sex relationships for both men or women, publishable by the death penalty. Between 2000 and 2022, an estimated 233 women have been executed in Iran, a country where everything from taking illicit drugs to having sex outside marriage is punishable by death.
VIETNAM — The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has instructed the country’s medical establishment to stop considering homosexuality, bisexuality and being transgender as mental health conditions that need to be « cured » through treatments such as conversion therapies. The decision, communicated in a document published in August, follows guidelines established by the World Health Organisation in 1990, which removed homosexuality from its list of mental health disorders. The decision is being seen as significant victory for the LGBTQIA+ community in Asia, where only one country – Taiwan – recognises same-sex marriage.
INDIA — The Indian Supreme Court ruled in August that state benefits and family allowances should be extended to unmarried partners, same-sex couples and other households considered “non-traditional”. The ruling does not mean that same-sex couples will gain the right to marry, which would require a reform of three articles of the constitution.
Sign this petition in support of Iranian LGBTQIA+ activists Zahra Sedighi Hamedani and Elham Chubdar:
This issue of Impact was prepared by Agustina Ordoqui, Anna Pujol-Mazzini and Megan Clement.
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