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October 13-19 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

On last Friday, two sexual assaults were reported at UConn. The two female victims were led off into the woods near a party on Hunting Lodge Road by two men, where one man raped one of the women and the second man “attempted to engage in non-consensual sexual contact” with the other woman.

During an October 7th concert for UConn’s Homecoming Week, students erupted in cheers when a rapper from the group Timeflies mentioned the “rape trail” in a rap that incorporated elements of UConn culture. The “rape trail” is a wooded path that connects the UConn campus and several off-campus apartment complexes. Student sexual assault prevention advocates have promoted calling the path “Celeron Trail,” but the unfortunate nickname still holds. Sexual assaults have happened on and near the trail, making the name even more appalling.

East Haven, Connecticut has met the deadlines for reforms imposed on the city after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation found that the police department was discriminating against Latinos. Deliberations began this week in a case against two East Haven police officers accused of profiling Latinos. Meanwhile, Hispanic police officers in Bridgeport have accused their assistant police chief of not taking action when a criminal justice professor used racial slurs in a training session.

National attention has shifted to Maryville, Missouri, after a teenage girl went public with the story of her sexual assault and the subsequent persecution her family faced at the hands of the town. In January of 2012, two older high school boys raped 14-year old Daisy Coleman and her thirteen-year old friend, yet prosecutors dropped the case despite the existence of a recording of the attack. The case is already being called the “next Steubenville.”

Colorado will have a “personhood” amendment on the ballot in 2014, thanks to the efforts of anti-choice group Personhood Colorado. Personhood measures seek to define fetuses as people at all stages of development in order to outlaw abortion. Anti-choice groups have attempted to push personhood bills in other states, but fortunately none have succeeded. What personhood advocates conveniently decline to mention is that these amendments hurt not only women who want to have an abortion, but also infringe on the rights of women carrying wanted pregnancies to term. For example, if a pregnant woman becomes ill and needs to have a medical procedure that would harm her fetus, doctors could refuse to provide treatment because the fetus and its incubator – sorry, mother – would have the same legal status.

While the government has reopened, Congress will face another budget deadline in just a few months, meaning that birth control coverage could potentially be on the chopping block once again.

In New Haven on Tuesday, activists protested the decision to relocate female inmates from a federal prison in Danbury. CT Senators Murphy and Blumenthal are still attempting to stop the move, which critics say would harm women by taking them away from their families. Although our current criminal justice system seems to have forgotten, the goal of incarceration is not just punishment, but rehabilitation. Removing what may be prisoners’ only connections to the outside world is not conducive to that goal.

An update on Connecticut’s healthcare exchange, Access Health CT, which opened October 1.

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