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
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. . . .