Afghan Women's Rights may be Severely Restricted by New Law
A new Shia family law signed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai sometime last month, but not yet published, would severely restrict women's rights in Afghanistan. Karzai, according to news sources, signed the bill to court the Hazara vote in the upcoming presidential election. The law has not yet been published, but according to The Guardian contains provisions that would restrict women from leaving their homes, working, going to school, or obtaining medical care without their husbands’ permission. The law also includes a provision that women cannot refuse their husbands sex and a provision that grants child custody only to men. Ustad Mohammad Akbari, leader of the Hazara party, told The Guardian that the law gives women the right to refuse sex with their husbands if they are ill or have a "reasonable excuse" and allows women the right to leave their homes without permission in an emergency.
Shinkai Karokhail, a woman MP who worked against the legislation, told The Independent UK that the law "is one of the worst bills passed by the parliament this century….It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."
The Globe and Mail reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that the law "is an area of absolute concern for the United States….My message is very clear. Women's rights are a central part of the foreign policy of the Obama administration."
Also yesterday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed the International Conference on Afghanistan at The Hague. Among his remarks, the Secretary General said "we will continue to work to protect human rights, especially for women and girls. Women should be free to work, teach and live without oppression and fear. And children -- especially girls -- must be given the education that will help them build a better future for Afghanistan."
Media Resources: Globe and Mail 4/1/09; Remarks of Ban Ki Moon 3/31/09; The Guardian 3/31/09; The Independent UK 3/31/09; Feminist Majority Foundation
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .