U.N. officials warned Afghanistan’s Taliban militia group that it will pull out of the country entirely unless the U.N. is “allowed to do its job.” This includes permitting women to work outside the home, opening schools to girls, and allowing women to obtain sufficient health care. U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that if the U.N. is not allowed to operate as it does in 184 other countries, “we should pack up and go.”
The U.N. already ended all its operations in southern Afghanistan last week. The move was a protest against attacks on its staff by the Taliban governor of Kandahar, Mullah Hassan Akhund, and a Taliban decree that prohibits foreign Muslim women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by her father, brother or husband.
Brahimi said that it is not just southern Afghanistan that poses a problem for U.N. workers, “Elsewhere we are not happy ... we are having more and more difficulty.” Brahimi said that the Taliban has tried to control U.N. operations and has continued to demand that it be recognized as Afghanistan’s official government. Currently, the U.N.’s Afghanistan seat on the U.N. Security Council is held by former Afghan President and anti-Taliban alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani. The anti-Taliban alliance holds 15% of the country.
Brahimi commented, “The international community has a standard and if you want to be a member of the club you have to abide by the rules.”
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked all governments to stop sending weapons to Afghan groups on either side of the struggle. Annan stressed that as long as the factions were receiving arms the fighting would continue and there would be no chance of either side engaging in “serious political dialogue with one another.”
Annan added that involvement of outside countries has only “exacerbated the tragedy of Afghanistan.”
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. . . .