Women's Rights Groups Praise New Afghan Shelter Regulations
In a victory for Afghan women's rights groups, President Hamid Karzai's Cabinet approved new draft regulations that will allow women's shelters in Afghanistan to remain independent and not come under government control. The regulations will also allow the shelters to receive money from donors without government intermediation. The government has not published the changes to the regulations to avoid controversy; however, Georgette Gagnon, director of human rights for the UN mission in Afghanistan, called the regulations "a victory for women's rights in Afghanistan."
Gagnon stated that women's groups were "able to convince the government and others that shelters were needed [and that] they needed to be independent to preserve women's rights and dignity."
In February, the Afghan government proposed other regulations, which were not passed, that would have allowed it to take over battered women and girls shelters, which were run by non-profit women's organizations. The proposed regulation would have required women fleeing domestic violence situations to appear before an eight-person government panel before obtaining shelter. A government committee would then determine whether women could be admitted to a shelter or if they should be jailed or returned to their families. If admitted to the shelter, women would have been 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.
Ten years ago there were no shelters for abused women in Afghanistan. Currently, there are approximately 14 shelters.
Media Resources: NPR 9/26/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/17/11
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. . . .