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Global Justice Center Blog

Social media platforms must act against election-related violence, disinfo, hate

As we approach the midterm elections, it remains painfully clear that social media companies are still failing to protect candidates, voters, and elected officials from disinformation, misogyny, racism, transphobia, and violence. After the 2020 presidential election, Trump backers and MAGA Republicans attacked the United States Capitol in the hopes of undermining the democratic process and stopping electoral vote certification. Before the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, social media platforms like Twitter and Meta knew that white supremacist misogynists were using their platforms to organize violent actions, spread false information claiming Trump had won, and threaten election workers, mostly Black women in places like Georgia. Yet social media companies did little to protect us.

In fact, according to The New York Times, the phrase "Storm the Capitol" was used 100,000 times on social media platforms in the month preceding the attack. Facebook groups had 650,000 posts questioning the validity of the election between Election Day and the January 6 insurrection, including many posts that called for executions and other violence. Most of this violence, both online and at the Capitol, was driven by racist, misogynistic men, and many of them had records of domestic violence or sexual harassment and assault. Similarly, insurrectionists made numerous threats on social media against women leaders in Congress, including threatening to kill Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. These threats were in addition to the regular threats and harassment endured by women of color congressional leaders: A study by ISD Global of 2020 candidates found that women of color candidates receive more abusive messages on social media, with Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting the most.

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International Law Weekend: The Crimes Against Humanity Treaty

Panelists

  • Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch
  • Alexandra Lily Kather Emergent Justice Collective,
  • Ambassador Alexander Marschik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN
  • Mosammat Shahanara Monica, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, Global Justice Center
  • Leila Nadya Sadat, Washington University School of Law

Castro, Jacobs Call for Biden Administration to Affirm Global Commitment to Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Rights Post¬-Dobbs

Dear Mr. Visek:

We are deeply concerned by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In the wake of this decision, we appreciate Secretary Blinken’s stated commitment to “helping provide access to reproductive health services and advancing reproductive rights around the world.” We write to you today because we believe the Dobbs decision is not only harmful to individuals in the United States who seek safe, legal access to abortions, but it also impacts the U.S. commitment to international human rights and its legal obligations, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which have all been ratified by the United States.

International human rights bodies have affirmed that access to abortion upholds key human rights, including the right to life, health, non-discrimination, information, and privacy. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) contains important and relevant protections for access to abortion. In 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of the ICCPR, made clear in General Comment 36 that the right to life, enshrined in Article 6 of the Covenant, includes the right to access safe and legal abortion without the imposition of restrictions which subject women and girls to physical or mental pain or suffering, discriminate against them, arbitrarily interfere with their privacy, or place them at risk of undertaking unsafe abortions. The Committee noted that, under Article 6, State parties may not introduce new barriers to abortion and should remove existing barriers that deny effective access by women and girls to safe and legal abortion.

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A tale of two Supreme Courts

Excerpt of The Hill op-ed authored by GJC Legal Advisor Ashita Alag.

In a moment with major repercussions for the future of reproductive rights around the world, the Supreme Courts of India and the United States issued historic rulings on abortion only a few months apart. In the U.S., the fall of Roe v. Wade in June unleashed havoc on the country’s health care system. Yet, in India, the story has unfolded far differently.

Last month, the Supreme Court of India held that a distinction made in Indian law between married and unmarried women and their access to abortion up to 24 weeks was arbitrary and should be abolished. The ruling in the case X v. The Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Department further expanded the right to abortion by clarifying that the listed set of circumstances that allow women to receive abortions up to 24 weeks under current law is not exhaustive. As a result, the right to abortion should be extended to all women who undergo a change in their material circumstances. The court further explained that this could include instances such as financial insecurity caused by losing a job or being diagnosed with a chronic illness.

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Letter Supporting Abortion Rights for Veterans Affairs Patients

Dear Under Secretary for Health Dr. Elnahal:

As organizations committed to protecting and expanding abortion access for all people, including service members, veterans, and their family members, we commend the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (“VA”) for its Interim Final Rule (“IFR”) on Reproductive Health Services. This IFR will provide essential abortion care and counseling to veterans and their family members in the midst of the current reproductive health care crisis. Access to abortion is essential to veterans’ freedom to make decisions about their health and well-being, and this IFR is a critical action toward ensuring they have control over their bodies, lives, and futures.

As a part of this country’s commitment to providing for the needs of veterans after they leave the military, VA has been directed by Congress to “promote, preserve, or restore the health” of the veterans they serve—and this includes ensuring access to abortion without political interference. Lacking access to abortion care and adequate reproductive health services can have profound impacts, including financial insecurity, increased risk of intimate partner violence, and maternal and neonatal deaths. These impacts are disproportionately felt by marginalized communities in the U.S who have long faced systemic barriers to health care—including Black, Indigenous, and people of color, low-income people, rural populations, LGBTQI people, people with disabilities, and immigrants.

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