PHR Reports Afghans Oppose Taliban’s Restrictions on Women
The rights of women are strongly supported by more than 90% of the Afghan women and men included in the recent survey conducted in Afghanistan by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Women’s Health and Human Rights in Afghanistan: A Population Based Assessment, is the first study to systematically assess human rights concerns of a large Afghan population.
The study found that the women surveyed in areas controlled by the Taliban "almost unanimously expressed that the Taliban had made their life ‘much worse’, attributing their declining mental and physical health to Taliban policies." When the women living under the Taliban are compared to women living in non-Taliban controlled areas, they report significantly worse physical and mental health, including much higher rates of major depression and suicide.
Another significant outcome of the survey is the Afghan people’s disagreement with the Taliban regime’s claims that the restrictions they have imposed on women are dictated by Islamic Law. More than 80% of the men and women surveyed believe that the teachings of Islam do not restrict women’s human rights.
Based on their findings, the PHR report calls for the end of the "systematic discrimination against women" by the Taliban. Among its other recommendations, PHR calls for the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, while also reporting that more than a third of the women surveyed said that Taliban policies restricted their access to humanitarian assistance.
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. . . .