Dr. Komal Hossain, U.N. Special Rapporteur to Afghanistan, presented a report on the status of human rights in Afghanistan to the 55th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission yesterday in Geneva.
Hossain reported that Taliban officials have made no significant changes regarding women's human rights. At a news conference, he characterized the situation for women as very negative in all fields regarding women's activities.
Dr. Hossain said that the Taliban in meetings in mid-March expressed "a more flexible attitude about girls' access to education, indicating that girls could return to school if more of the war-damaged schools were reopened." Nonetheless, Rubin found that hardly any girls, compared with 24% of boys, now attend school. He also noted that the only change in policies banning women's employment was recent permission given to widows to work in order to survive. Most women still are banned from working and most girls are banned from formal education. The Taliban's ban on women's employment has caused a shortage of teachers, limiting educational opportunities for both girls and boys.
"While they seek international recognition, they continue to pursue policies which are in conflict with international human rights standards by which Afghanistan is bound," Dr. Hossain said.
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. . . .