American Relief Worker Arrested by Taliban Authorities
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban government has arrested an American relief worker, 72 year-old Mary MacMakin, in an apparent crackdown on organizations that violate the Taliban's strict gender apartheid policies by employing Afghan women. MacMakin runs an organization called Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support of Afghan Women (PARSA) that teaches practical farming and crafts skills to Afghan widows. Citing her in connection with "anti-government activities," Taliban authorities arrested MacMakin along with six Afghan women employees on Sunday, following an edict by the Taliban leadership prohibiting foreign relief organizations from employing Afghan women. Both the State Department and the United Nations are working to win MacMakin's release and are pressuring the Taliban to ease up on its new edict. Although very few details on MacMakin's arrest and detention are available, Taliban representatives say she is well. The Taliban reportedly offered to release MacMakin, but she refused to leave her employees behind, and "insisted that the others be freed." Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal cites MacMakin's arrest as another example of the Taliban's strict enforcement of gender apartheid. "Clearly," she states, "recent reports that the Taliban is easing up on its gender apartheid edicts are false. This latest assault on women's rights proves that the Taliban leadership is more determined than ever to deny basic human rights to Afghan women and girls." Since 1996, when the Taliban militia took control of Kabul, women in areas under Taliban rule have been oppressed by a strict system of gender apartheid, under which they have been stripped of their visibility, voice and mobility. The edicts imposed by the Taliban, which have been brutally enforced, banished most women from the work force, closed schools to girls in cities and expelled women from universities, and prohibited women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative.
Media Resources: Washington Post, Tuesday, July 11, 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. . . .