Afghan Talks "Suspended Indefinitely;" Fighting May Resume
Peace talks between the ruling fundamentalist Taliban militia and the northern opposition, which controls the remaining 15% of the country, have been suspended due to disagreement over road blockades and the establishment of a governing council composed of Islamic scholars.
The Taliban has refused to remove the blockades, which block foreign aid to the country, until the governing council is established. The blockades have caused at least 100 starvation deaths and may kill thousands more. A spokesperson for the northern opposition has urged the U.N. to pressure the Taliban into removing the blockades.
According to an Associated Press article, both the Taliban and the northern opposition have prepared for "intense" fighting by organizing thousands of troops and collecting ammunition.
The U.N. and U.S. have refused to grant recognition of the Taliban as the official ruling power in Afghanistan until women's human rights are restored. Despite U.S. and U.N. commitments to women's human rights, the peace talks have not addressed the gender apartheid which has resulted in women and girls being stripped of their rights. Since the fundamentalist Taliban militia gained control of Afghanistan's capital city in September 1996, the Taliban has issued decrees prohibiting women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a husband, brother or son, forbidding girls from obtaining an education and denying women adequate access to healthcare. Links.
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. . . .