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
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. . . .