Women’s rights may have come a long way, but as Ireland’s outdated abortion laws, a shockingly biased US rape trial, and the President’s horrifying “grab them by the pussy” comments demonstrate, global misogyny is disturbingly prevalent.
And now President Donald Trump, in an office surrounded by men, has reinstated a global gag order that bans US-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion.
The controversial politician – whose election campaign was steeped in scandal from the very beginning - signed the executive order in a bid to remind the world that he “wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn,” his press secretary Sean Spicer said.
The rule was created under former president Ronald Reagan in 1984, and has been traditionally used by incoming presidents to signal their positions on abortion rights.
Barack Obama had lifted the gag rule in 2009, when he took office.
Now, eight years later, Trump has reinstated the regulation, also known as the “Mexico City Policy”. In doing so, he has reminded the world that he supports a US abortion ban. On the campaign trail, he said that “there has to be some sort of punishment” for women who have abortions if the practice were made illegal – a statement which he later retracted amongst widespread outcry.
The 70-year-old went on to add that he supports an abortion ban exception for “rape, incest, and the life of the mother”.
Women’s rights advocates have immediately spoken out against Trump’s decision.
“The global gag rule has been associated with an increase in unsafe abortions and we expect that Trump’s global gag rule will cost women their lives.”
Nancy Northup, president of the US-based Centre for Reproductive Rights, said: “It is appalling to dictate to civil society groups and health care providers how they can spend their own money and force them to withhold from women critical information about and access to the full range of reproductive health care.”
The reinstatement of the policy comes just two days after hundreds of thousands of women marched all over the world in a show of unity for women’s rights, including access to safe and legal abortions.
It's telling that one of Trump's first executive actions combines two of his favourite things: silencing anyone who disagrees with him and repressing women.
“It’s telling that one of Trump’s first executive actions combines two of his favourite things: silencing anyone who disagrees with him and repressing women,” a statement from advocacy group Naral Pro-Choice America.
“Just two days after the historic Women's March and one day after the anniversary of the historic decision in Roe v. Wade, Donald Trump's misguided priority is to reinstate... a policy that silences health workers at the expense of their patients.”
As well as reinstating the Mexico City Policy, Trump has also promised to fill a Supreme Court vacancy with a socially conservative judge.
Congress, meanwhile, has signalled its intention to withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood, a group that provides reproductive health services in the US and overseas.
It is also worth pointing out that when the Trump administration took control over the weekend, they immediately deleted all mention of LGBT rights from the White House website.
The new President has never released a policy plan on LGBT issues, and also has no policy plan on HIV/AIDS. One of his only direct policy pledges is to sign the Republican-backed First Amendment Defence Act, a law that would permit forms of anti-LGBT discrimination on the grounds of religion.
Margaret Atwood, who famously penned dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, previously said that Trump’s America is in danger of becoming a real-life Gilead.
For those who haven’t read her famous feminist sci-fi novel, Gilead is the name of a terrifying society formerly known as the United States of America.
The totalitarian state, following a series of environmental disasters and plunging birth rates, has annexed women as property of the state – and forced them into sexual servitude in a bid to repopulate a devastated world.
Speaking in an interview with The Guardian, Atwood said: “The Handmaid’s Tale [is] unfolding in front of your very eyes.”
Atwood went on to explain that, when The Handmaid’s Tale was published, many began to wonder how long they had until the events described by her main character, Offred, would come to pass.
“Apparently, not as long as I thought,” she said, adding: “With any cultural change there is a push and a pushback. Trump has brought out a huge pushback that was originally against immigrants.
“Now it has shifted to being very misogynistic, partly because of [Trump supporters’ treatment of] Hillary Clinton. You have not seen anything like this since the 17th-century witch hunts, quite frankly.”
Gloria Steinem has also spoken out against Trump.
During a Women’s March rally at Washington DC on 21 January, the activist warned those gathered that the new president's “Twitter finger must not become a trigger finger.”
She said: “Marchers, make no mistake. We are - every single one of us - under attack.
“Our safety and freedoms are on the chopping block.”
Images: Rex Features