Two suspected gas attacks on Afghan schoolgirls sickened dozens of girls from the northern Kunduz Province and at least six from Kabul yesterday. According to Reuters, one of the students sickened in Kunduz, Farzana, reported seeing a man whose mouth and nose were covered throw a bottle near the school. In Kabul, a student named Samira told Reuters "I smelled something very sweet and when I went and told my teachers about it they said it was not a big incident but later on I saw girls falling down and collapsing and vomiting so we called the police."
It is unclear if the Taliban were behind the most recent attacks. According to Al Jazeera, the Taliban has denied involvement in these attacks, but the government is blaming the attacks on rebels who oppose educating women and girls.
At least 88 schoolgirls and teachers became ill after similar suspected poison gas attacks at schools in Kunduz Province in April 2010 and other similar attacks were reported just last week. A similar incident also occurred in May 2009, when more than 150 students were hospitalized after three separate incidents during which students became ill soon after reporting strong odors.
In Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, violence against schools that educate girls has been a key part of campaigns against the education of women. In Pakistan's Swat Valley, more than 130 primarily all girl schools have been destroyed, allegedly by the Taliban. In total, hundreds of schools have been destroyed in Pakistan's northwest region over the past several years. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which lasted until 2001, Afghan girls were forbidden to attend school. To date, more than 1,000 girls' or co-educational schools have been bombed or burned in Afghanistan.
Media Resources: Reuters 5/11/10; Al Jazeera 5/12/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/26/10
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. . . .