U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the Taliban for their complete disregard for the life and welfare of Afghan citizens in an annual report on the condition and future of the war-torn nation. Human rights atrocities committed during Taliban offensives and highlighted in the report included the execution of women and children, forced displacement, looting and burning of homes and crops, arbitrary detention and the separation of men from families.
Annan warned of a bleak situation for the coming year and announced that a new U.N. civil rights monitoring unit which the Feminist Majority Foundation has advocated will work inside Afghanistan to deter the “massive and systematic violations of human rights in the future.” He also spoke out on military involvement in the conflict by Afghanistan’s neighbors, stating ”Such interference from outside the country remains one of the biggest impediments to peace, as it provides the essential means for the continued fighting in the forms of arms, ammunition and other war-making material.”
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. . . .