Taliban Retaliates After U.S. Humanitarian Aid Package
“Religious Police” Terrorize Hospital, Close Bread Bakeries and UN Offices
The same day U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell announced $43 million in aid to Afghanistan, Taliban “religious police”—The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice—raided a hospital in Kabul, claiming that male and female personnel were “mixing” illegally. Just two days later, the religious police shut down several of the World Food Program bread bakeries that employed Afghan women. And yesterday, the Taliban closed four UN offices that were instrumental to peacekeeping efforts in the country.
“How long is the civilized world going to stand by and watch this barbaric regime destroy the lives of millions of Afghan women and children?” asked Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “We were energized with last week’s $43 million humanitarian aid package, but clearly more help is needed from the international community.”
One million people are at risk of famine in Afghanistan and millions more are in the most desperate poverty imaginable, according to the United Nations. The Taliban’s barbaric rule, the most severe drought in decades, sub-zero temperatures this past winter, military incursions which have displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and a lack of humanitarian aid have created a crisis in Afghanistan. As many as 800,000 people are displaced and without homes and food; hundreds of thousands have crossed the border to neighboring Pakistan in search of relief, only to find death and starvation in refugee camps.
“How are so many Afghans supposed to eat if the Taliban keeps closing the bread bakeries that are barely keeping women and their families alive?” added Smeal. “And now the peacekeeping agencies that risk their lives every day to help save Afghan women and children are being ordered to close their doors and go home. Who is going to help the millions of displaced, starving, and sick?”
Over 190 women's and human rights organizations join The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan in imploring the United States and the United Nations to do everything in its power to help restore the rights of Afghan women and girls. The Campaign, chaired by Mavis Leno, continues to press the U.S. government to deny the Taliban recognition until the rights of women and girls are fully and permanently restored, to increase humanitarian assistance directed to Afghan women and children, and to increase refugee admission of women and girls fleeing the brutal gender apartheid regime.
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. . . .