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Women Around the World: Iran, US, Australia

Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post covers January 7 to January 13.

Members of the Iranian community living in Turkey attend a protest in support of Iranian women in Istanbul. Dilara Senkaya/REUTERS

Executions Force Protestors Underground

Large-scale, public anti-government protests in Iran have begun to decrease in the face of executions carried out by the Islamic Republic. Four protestors have been executed by hanging and, according to the New York Times, at least twelve others are at risk of execution. But advocates are making clear that resistance persists. “Protests have taken a different shape, but not ended,” said Executive Director at the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi. “People are either in prison or they have gone underground because they are determined to find a way to keep fighting.” The protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody, have raged across Iran since September.

Court Rejects Six-Week Abortion Ban

Last Thursday, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s “Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” in a three to two decision. Judges ruled that the law violates the state’s constitutional protection against “unreasonable invasions of privacy.” Several other states including Georgia, Ohio, and Iowa have attempted to implement “fetal heartbeat” laws; all have faced similar legal challenges. These laws ban abortion after an ultrasound can detect cardiac activity, which typically occurs about six weeks into pregnancy. “This is a monumental victory in the movement to protect legal abortion in the South,” said President of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Jenny Black. Conservative lawmakers in South Caroline have pushed back against the decision. “Today’s decision fails to respect the concept of separation of powers and strips the people of this state from having a say in a decision that was meant to reflect their voices,” said Murrell Smith, speaker of the South Caroline House. Abortion in South Caroline now remains legal up to roughly twenty-one weeks of pregnancy.

Australian Cricket Objects to Restrictions on Women’ Rights in Afghanistan

The Australian men’s cricket team, Cricket Australia (CA), cancelled upcoming matches against Afghanistan to protest the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s education and employment. The teams were slated to play in the United Arab Emirates in March. “CA is committed to supporting growing the game for women and men around the world, including in Afghanistan, and will continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in anticipation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country,” a statement released on Thursday said. In recent months, the Taliban government has issued a set of harsh restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan, which some experts believe may constitute gender apartheid. Women must wear full face coverings, are restricted from working in most jobs, are prohibited from visiting public parks, and can no longer attend school beyond sixth grade.


(c) 2023, Council on Foreign Relations


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