Severe Restrictions Proposed for Afghan Women's Shelters
The Ministry of Justice of the Afghan government is considering adopting a new regulation that would require women fleeing domestic violence situations to appear before an eight-person government panel before obtaining shelter. Under the new regulation, the shelters, which are currently funded by international organizations, Western governments, and individual donors, would be placed under the control of the government.
A government committee would determine whether women can be admitted to a shelter or if they should be jailed or returned to their families. If admitted to the shelter, women would then be required to submit to physical examinations, which could include a virginity test. Moreover, women could be forced to leave the shelter if their families requested that they return.
Women's rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Women for Afghan Women and the Afghan Human Rights Commission, have expressed concern that the new laws would deter vulnerable women and girls from seeking necessary protections and shelter. Manizha Naderi, the director of Women for Afghan Women, told the New York Times, "I'm not sure why they are doing it - maybe because the government is becoming more conservative and to appease the Taliban they are doing this. Domestic violence is cultural and it takes time to change and it will change, but women need a safe place when they are a victim of violence."
Ten years ago there were no shelters for abused women in Afghanistan. Currently, there are approximately 14 shelters.
Media Resources: Reuters 2/10/11; New York Times 2/10/11; Irish Times 2/9/11; UPI 2/10/11
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. . . .