The United Nations will not participate in talks with Afghanistan's Taliban militia group because the Taliban refuses to allow the presence of U.N. office for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan head Alfredo Witschi-Cestari, according to the Washington Post.
Earlier this year, Witschi-Cestari ordered the temporary termination of aid to Afghanistan as a protest to the Taliban's harassment of U.N. workers, treatment of women and decrees that foreign Muslim women must be accompanied by a husband, brother or son while in public.
Taliban militia leaders, U.S. State Department officials, and representatives of the northern opposition that retains control of 15 percent of the country met yesterday in Islamabad, Pakistan. The group discussed the formation of a steering committee composed of Islamic religious scholars that would participate in peace-talks next week.
Since the fundamentalist militia group gained control of 85 percent of the Afghanistan in 1996, they have issued a series of decrees designed to strip women of their most basic human rights. Women are prohibited from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a brother, son or husband, girls are forbidden to attend school, and women's access to healthcare is largely restricted.
After talks with U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson late last week, the Taliban said they may consider segregated religious universities for women and may allow women and girls to receive healthcare from Afghan women doctors.
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Media Resources: Washington Post, Reuters - April 21/20, 1998
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. . . .