The State of Girls in the World: International Day of the Girl Child

Content note: This article discusses sexual assault and violence against women and girls.

afghan girlOctober 11, 2014 will be the third International Day of the Girl Child. UNICEF began this day in 2012, a day that focused on the issue of child marriage. Last year, the subject was education for girls. This year the theme is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.

I am excited that violence is this year’s focus. When I worked in another state as a child therapist in an inner-city neighborhood, I once had a 14-year-old girl bring in two friends for her session. She and another girl around her age wanted me to talk to their 11-year-old friend, who was thinking about having sex with her older boyfriend. The boyfriend was insisting on it. The older girls agreed with the general idea that “spreading your legs” (in their words) is part of having a boyfriend, but were worried that their friend was too young. Though they could not see any coercion in their own lives, even they could tell that in their 11-year-old friend’s case, something was wrong. At one point I asked them, “Do you enjoy it?” All three looked at me as if I were talking a foreign language. The idea that sex could be pleasurable had never occurred to them.


We need to work to prevent violence against girls where it begins — with the perpetrators and their enablers.


These girls were not alone, and although they reflected a particular cultural setting, partner violence is not unusual anywhere. According to the United Nations, one in three women worldwide experiences partner violence, many of them as children and teens. The statistics in this article include countries where teenage girls are often married, and in several countries the proportion exceeds 50 percent.

Violence against girls is often considered acceptable where the social structure gives men dominance over women. Practices like female genital mutilation, which is often strongly supported and facilitated by the women of a culture group, reinforce violence as a social norm. Female genital mutilation is restricted to a group of northern African countries as well as Iraq and Yemen, but the practice has been carried by immigrants into Western countries, including our own. While the practice was made illegal in the United States in 1996, the law was not amended until 2012 to include transporting girls abroad to have the procedure done; this was done as a provision of the Defense Authorization Act that year. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • birth_control protesterEsquire has a stellar piece on the work of Dr. Willie Parker, a resident of Illinois who flies to Mississippi twice a month to provide abortions to women in the state’s last abortion clinic. It’s a lengthy piece but worth your time. (Esquire)
  • Rand Paul is a lying, liar-faced liar who tried to downplay his and other GOP members’ efforts to diminish women’s access to birth control. (Jezebel)
  • As a matter of fact, the anti-contraception agenda of conservatives has only become more extreme. (RH Reality Check)
  • Texas’ abortion clinics are closing at an alarming rate. (WaPo)
  • As a result of the disappearing clinics, women are increasingly resorting to unsafe methods to terminate unwanted pregnancies. (Cosmopolitan)
  • The last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, is fighting the good fight to remain open. (Toledo Blade)
  • How much do the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” matter in 2014? Bustle investigates. (Bustle)
  • Circumcising men cuts HIV risk among women. (MedPage)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • clintonHillary will not be backing down to anti-choice imbeciles. (Upworthy)
  • It’s not looking good for abortion clinics in Ohio. (USA Today)
  • And Michigan clinics are being affected as a result. (RH Reality Check)
  • Anti-choice ignoramus Lindsey Graham is absolutely positive that prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks is going to result in great things! (HuffPo)
  • Instead of taking their asses somewhere to help babies who’ve been born already, a bunch of #$%&^@# in New Mexico are tooling around in a van with graphic, gory (and probably fake) images of “late-term” fetuses who’ve supposedly been aborted. (Think Progress)
  • Just because you sign my paycheck doesn’t mean you get to dictate what I do with my uterus. When will that register with these people?!?!? (NYT)
  • OK, girls, let’s have a chat — if you don’t want to get pregnant, please use contraception. Don’t assume you have special uterine powers that will automatically repel an embryo from showing up at your uterus’ door. (Jezebel)
  • Politicos who try to interfere with women’s use of birth control are in for a rude awakening come election time. #StartPackingYourBags (PolicyMic)
  • Get a load of this tripe: The buffoon known as Rush Limbaugh thinks women have no agency in their reproductive choices and are being “turned into abortion machines” by Democrats. (MSNBC)
  • Interesting Slate piece on how the victims of the Hitler regime are affecting the abortion debate. (Slate)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • handcuffsOh, brother, fetuses have actual rights over the rights of the woman carrying them. And these women are being put in the slammer. The reproductive rights of women are becoming non-existent. (Salon)
  • Arizona is trying to eliminate the rights of pregnant women as well. Not that this is extraordinarily out of character for this state. (RH Reality Check)
  • By the way, Ohio sucks too. (Think Progress)
  • Add Texas to the list as well. (NPR)
  • Et tu, Alabama? (ABC News)
  • And lest you think these injustices are limited to the United States, the European Union is on the anti-woman train as well. (The Washington Times)
  • We might be looking at another government shutdown. This time over contraception. *Heavy sigh* (The Daily Beast)
  • Things you should know about the pill and its potential effects on your skin. (HuffPo)
  • Birth control is awesome and you won’t have fertility issues after you stop taking it. (Care2)
  • 2015 will be a banner year for male contraception! Only 14 months away! Not that I’m counting or anything … (Collegian)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • silhouetteA judge in Nebraska’s Supreme Court ruled that a 16-year-old foster child was not “mature enough” to have an abortion. She is, apparently, mature enough to:
    • endure nine months of a potentially difficult pregnancy
    • endure childbirth (which is much more dangerous than abortion)
    • have a child to take care of financially and emotionally for something like … I don’t know, 20 years
    • be a teen parent totally alone in this world with no close relatives to support her and her child

    Welcome to the perfectly logical world of anti-choicers. (Jezebel)

  • Contraception: good for women and good for society. (Raw Story)
  • Expanding the availability of abortions — California, you’re doin’ it right. (NYT)
  • Not interfering with a woman’s legal right to abortion — Ohio, you’re doin’ it wrong. (NYT)
  • Although World Contraception Day was two weeks ago, it’s still important that you know these five things about birth control. (ThinkProgress)
  • Not so fast, Virginia, your abortion restrictions will not go unchallenged!! (WaPo)
  • A thoughtful mother wants safe, legal abortion access available for her daughter and everyone else’s. (The Daily Beast)
  • Another religious “institution” doing whatever possible to restrict their female employees’ access to abortion. (LA Times)
  • If you’re a GOP legislator, why would you focus on resolving the silly government shutdown when you can instead propose more legislation around abortion? (RH Reality Check)

Book Club: Crow After Roe

Crow After RoeA new book by Robin Marty and Jessica Mason Pieklo takes readers on a tour of a disaster. It was a catastrophe that swept through much of the Midwest but also shook states like Arizona, Idaho, and Mississippi. Its widespread effects raised numerous health concerns as it made its way through much of the country, and its repercussions are still felt today. Undoing the damage could take years.

The disaster was not natural, but political. The 2010 midterm elections saw a wave of Republican victories, giving state legislatures a new makeup and a new agenda. Reacting to a recently elected Democratic president who had called himself “a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice,” conservative lawmakers introduced one bill after another to limit access to reproductive health care — especially, but not exclusively, abortion.


The defeat of Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban is a timely reminder of what activists can accomplish.


In Crow After Roe: How “Separate but Equal” Has Become the New Standard in Women’s Health and How We Can Change That (Ig Publishing, 2013), Marty and Pieklo, both reporters for the reproductive health and justice news site RH Reality Check, take a state-by-state look at the many bills that were introduced in the wake of the 2010 midterm elections. Those bills made the next year, 2011, a record year for state-level legislation to restrict abortion. States passed more anti-abortion laws in 2011 than in any year in the last three decades. What was quickly dubbed the War on Women continued into 2012. That year saw the second highest number of new state-level abortion restrictions. This year is shaping up to be much like the prior two, with new restrictions introduced in more than a dozen states, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Marty and Pieklo argue that this onslaught of bad legislation has put women — especially poor, minority, and rural women — in a separate and secondary class of health care consumers who have little choice or control over their reproductive health. The authors posit that the goal of the many restrictions is to render abortion “legal in name only” — still legal, but largely unavailable. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • plannedparenthoodactionorgSince it’s that time of the year again, let’s play a round of anti-choice March Madness! (Mother Jones)
  • The GOP might as well face the facts … They’ve lost women forever. (Salon)
  • Foolish parents continue to put their children at risk for cervical cancer. (RH Reality Check)
  • In honor of Women’s History Month, we present you with 50 women who shaped America’s health. (HuffPo)
  • When Women Have More Control Over Bearing Children, Their Lives Are Obviously Way Better — DUH! (Jezebel)
  • Salon expounds upon this less-than-shocking news. (Salon)
  • Unfortunately, doctors don’t prescribe long-acting contraception for adolescents very often. (Healio)
  • A whopping 233 million women may need contraception by 2015. (NBC News)
  • In case you weren’t aware, the Catholic Church has quite the costly stance on contraception. (MSNBC)
  • Completely disregarding the ruined life of the victim, CNN instead expressed grief that the guilty verdict ruined the “promising” lives of Steubenville rapists. Uggghhh. (Rawstory)