With the arrest of relief worker Mary MacMakin on July 11 and her deportation ordered by the Taliban on July 12, non-governmential aid organizations in Afghanistan are working in a tense atmosphere. A survey of the 40 international aid organizations in Kabul conducted yesterday revealed that their Afghan women employees had not gone to work, fearing Taliban retaliation. U.N. officials are still deciphering whether a far-reaching "crackdown" on women's employment has been ordered, or whether a single Taliban minister is behind the move, the Associated Press reported late yesterday. International humanitarian groups received a letter of warning last week, and American relief worker Mary MacMakin was arrested yesterday and held in a juvenile detention center, apparently as a part of a crackdown, and was ordered today to leave Afghanistan within 24 hours.
U.N. officials confirmed, in a late-breaking story by the AP, that MacMakin and the seven Afghan women arrested with her were released today and ordered to leave Afghanistan. The women say they were treated well. MacMakin's Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support of Afghan Women (PARSA) teaches practical farming and crafts skills to Afghan widows.
Since the Taliban forcefully took power in Afghanistan, women and girls have been living under a reign of terror. Barred from working outside the home, women are forced to wear the all-covering burqa, and are living under virtual house arrest. Employing Afghan women is essential not only to the economic survival of the 28,000 widows in Afghanistan (where women are not allowed to leave the home without a close male relative), but to the thousands of children served by international humanitarian aid organizations.
Media Resources: Associated Press- 12 July 2000 and Associated Press- 11 July 2000 and BBC - 12 July 2000 and AFP - 11 July 2000 and New York Times- 12 July 2000 and Feminist News - 11 July 2000
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. . . .