U.S. To Take in 7,000 Iraqi Refugees, Giving Women and Children Priority
In response to mounting international pressure, the United States has pledged to grant asylum to 7,000 Iraq war refugees, prioritizing the "most vulnerable," including women and children. The announcement came after the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) released estimates that 2 million Iraqis have fled since the war began in 2003, with another 40,000-50,000 leaving each month. An additional 1.8 million have been internally displaced. Up to now, only 600 Iraqis have been granted U.S. asylum.
The majority of displaced Iraqis are women and children, reports New York-based NGO Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and they face particular dangers. "There are already reports of Iraqi women and young girls forced into prostitution … to survive," says executive director Carolyn Makinson. "It's time to make assisting displaced Iraqi women, children, and youth a global priority."
UNHCR head Antonio Guterres called the U.S.'s pledges "a good start," but added, 'The dimension of the problem is so huge that nothing is ever enough."
In Jordan, for example, a nation of only 6 million, an influx of 750,000 refugees has overwhelmed social services. A spokesperson for the Jordanian government said in reaction to the U.S. announcement, "Seven thousand Iraqi refugees is just 1 percent of the number we have."
Media Resources: AP 2/14/07; UNHCR January 2007; Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children 1/29/07
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .