Taliban Detains Officials and Journalists in Afghanistan
Armed police of the Taliban extremist group arrested and detained European commissioner Emma Bonino and 18 other European representatives and journalists, including Christiane Amanpour of CNN, for allegedly making a videotape inside a Kabul women's hospital on September 29. The Taliban has imposed a rule against photographing people. Taliban police detained the group for three hours before they were released unharmed.
Bonino, the highest-ranking Western official to visit Kabul since the Taliban took over a year ago, is in charge of the European Union's humanitarian office. The European Union has committed $40 million for emergency aid in Afghanistan.
In response to the arrests, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) held a press conference condemning the Taliban's oppression of women. The Taliban controls the southern two-thirds of Afghanistan, where they have prohibited women from working, going to school, leaving their homes without a close male relative, or appearing in public without a burqa, a head-to-toe garment with only a mesh opening to see through. Maloney has introduced a House Resolution expressing concern for human rights violations in Afghanistan. A similar resolution has already passed the U.S. Senate.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy announced last week that 5,000 Canadian women have written letters protesting women's oppression in Afghanistan. Axworthy will deliver the letters to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Media Resources: CNN, AP, Reuters, and Rep. Carolyn Mahoney press conference - September 29, 1997
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. . . .