News reports indicate that at least 15 people died during election-related violence in Afghanistan on Saturday, where parliamentary elections were held. The Governor of Kandahar Province narrowly escaped a roadside bomb attack while traveling between polling locations, reported the Los Angeles Times. Throughout the country, dozens of rocket attacks targeted the polls. Turn-out was relatively low, as expected. More than 1,000 of nearly 7,000 polling centers did not open on Saturday due to an inability to ensure safety at the locations.
A record number of women ran for Parliament in this election. In total, approximately 385 of about 2,500 candidates, who ran for the 249 seats in the lower house were women. Sixty-five of the lower house seats are reserved for women. One woman candidate, former Olympic Athlete Robina Jalali, told the Express UK that "of course we are worried about losing our freedoms but if the Taliban accept the constitution, if they let women work and play sport and go to school and go to university, then we won't have any problems with them." She continued, "I was a champion athlete for 10 years but I am far more nervous about this than about my races. People must go out and vote to make sure that we get a true and representative result and that the country gets a chance to heal and to grow."
The Free and Fair Election Foundation, which monitors Afghan elections, said in a statement that "Though there were numerous attacks, none were severe enough to disrupt voting on a wide scale," reported the Los Angeles Times.
Taliban violence towards candidates and campaign workers has been lethal in recent months. Five campaign workers who had been working for a woman parliament candidate were killed in Afghanistan's Herat province in August. The workers had been campaigning for incumbent Fauzia Galani, who is one of the few women candidates in the upcoming September elections. Other recent incidents include the murders of at least four candidates.
In last year's presidential elections, women were unable to vote in some parts of Afghanistan and women's voting cards were used to stuff ballot boxes in some polling locations. There is also preliminary evidence of voter fraud in Saturday's election.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 9/18/10; Express UK 9/19/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/17/10
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. . . .