Afghan Violence Against Women Law Blocked in Parliament
On Saturday, the Speaker of the Lower House of Afghan Parliament delayed a vote on the Elimination of Violence against Women law after two hours of vociferous debate between conservative religious and more liberal members of Parliament. The Speaker did not specify when the measure would be placed on the floor for a vote again.
A number of conservative members of Parliament (MPs) raised their voices against the measure, deeming it un-Islamic. Although the EVAW law was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, women's rights activist Fawzia Kofi, who also heads the women's committee of the Lower House, decided to introduce the EVAW in Parliament. Kofi was concerned that without the EVAW being approved by Parliament, the decree might be reversed by a newly elected President in 2014. Karzai is term limited and cannot run again in 2014. Some Afghan women's rights leaders opposed introducing the EFAW in Parliament for fear of having it defeated or repealed by conservative members.
According to the TOLO News "The parliamentarians who opposed the law call 6 of its articles to be against Islamic values." These articles include criminalizing child marriage and forced marriage, banning the traditional "BAAD" practice of exchanging girls and girls and women to settle disputes between families, making domestic violence punishable up to three years in prison, protecting rape victims from prosecution for adultery or fornication, limiting the number of wives a man can have to two, and established shelters for battered women.
One of the conservative MPS suggested that the article to eliminate prosecution of raped women for adultery would lead to more extramarital sex, with women claiming they had been raped just to escape punishment. Others claimed that a husband has the right to discipline his wife.
"There's a real risk this has opened a Pandora's box, that this may have galvanized opposition to this decree by people who in principle oppose greater rights for women," stated Heather Barr, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Media Resources: Associated Press 5/18/2013; TOLO News 5/18/2013
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. . . .