Support for Women's Rights May Cost Afghan Student 20 Years
Afghan student Parwez Kambakhsh has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for blasphemy, having circulated an article about women's rights under Islam, reports the Los Angeles Times. Kambakhsh, 24, who also worked as a part-time newspaper journalist in Mazar-i-Sharif, had downloaded the article from the Internet.
Originally sentenced to death for his "crime," an Afghan appeals court reduced the penalty to jail time. However, freedom-of-the-press advocates and human rights groups who have championed Kambakhsh's case, including the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), remain appalled by the decision. "This is a tragic situation. Human rights and women's rights groups will continue to try to free Kambakhsh," said FMF President Eleanor Smeal.
The case, wrote reporter Laura King, "has illustrated Afghanistan's drift toward a more radically conservative brand of Islam as well as the fragility of its legal system." Kambakhsh, who says he was tortured into giving a confession, can still appeal to the country's Supreme Court.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 10/22/08; Interview with Eleanor Smeal 10/23/08
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. . . .