In tonight’s Women’s Daily Dispatch: trans women are given the OK to race in the Boston Marathon, and Belfast council is set to debate abortion pills. In Saudi Arabia, women are increasingly taking up cycling – and in England, worrying numbers of domestic abuse victims are being blocked from accessing legal aid.
Trans women can now compete as women in the Boston Marathon
The organisers of the Boston Marathon have confirmed that transgender women will be allowed to compete as women in the race later this month.
“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” said Tom Grilk, chief of the Boston Athletic Association. “Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
While trans women have run the Boston Marathon before, this is the first time the race’s organisers have taken a clear stance on the issue. Previously, trans women simply signed up and ran, hoping that they would not be stopped.
Dr Alex Keuroghlian is director of education and training programmes at the Fenway Institute health centre in Boston. He told ABC News there was no evidence that trans women would have a physical advantage over cisgender women in the marathon.
“That’s a misconception and a myth,” he said. “There’s no physiologic advantage to being assigned male at birth.”
Northern Irish council set to debate abortion pills
On Monday night, Belfast City Council will be asked to denounce the arrest and attempted prosecution of women in Northern Ireland who buy abortion pills online.
Two Northern Irish female MPs have brought a motion to the council, asking it to condemn cases in which women are treated like criminals for obtaining abortion pills. The motion cites cases such as the one involving a mother who procured abortion pills for her 15-year-old daughter after she was raped. The mother was first arrested in 2016, and is due to appear in court in Belfast in May.
The motion is backed by Amnesty International and the Family Planning Association. Kate Nicholl of the Alliance party, one of the MPs who proposed it, said: “Prohibition of abortion does not stop abortion, it stops safe abortion. Prosecutions deter women and girls from seeking medical assistance which will inevitably affect their health.”
Abortions are legal and free under the NHS in the rest of the UK under the 1967 Abortion Act, but this legislation does not extend to Northern Ireland.
Read more on this story at The Guardian.
Women in Saudi Arabia gain independence through cycling
In Friday’s Dispatch, we brought you the story of a cycle club that allows residents of a women’s homeless shelter in London to feel more independent. Now, another story highlights the link between cycling and freedom.
Reuters reports that increasing numbers of women are getting on two wheels in Saudi Arabia, where women’s conduct in public has traditionally been strictly policed. Under the modernising eye of the 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, things have begun to change. In 2013, Saudi authorities decreed that women are allowed to ride bicycles in public as long as they dress modestly and are accompanied by a male guardian.
Graphic design lecturer Amirah al-Turkistani, 30, said that she regularly cycles to work in her hometown of Jeddah.
“Jeddah today isn’t the same as Jeddah five, six years ago,” she said. “The scrutiny on clothes [has eased], there’s more places to go, working opportunities for women are the same as for men.”
Domestic abuse victims are being blocked from accessing legal aid
Thousands of domestic abuse victims in England are unable to access the legal representation they need, due to flaws in the country’s legal aid system.
According to a new BBC investigation, more than 6,000 victims of domestic abuse were denied free legal representation in 2017. Many of these women were turned away because they appeared to have money or assets that would mean they didn’t need legal aid, which provides people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer with taxpayer-funded legal support.
Domestic abuse victims often need legal representation to secure a non-molestation order, an injunction designed to prevent their partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against them or their children.
However, legal aid applicants for non-molestation orders are means tested, and often required to pay towards the cost – something that is impossible for many women who are victims of financial abuse.
Read more on this story here.
Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.
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