Feminist Majority Calls Attention to Gender Apartheid in New York Times
As the Taliban puts aid workers on trial for “proselytizing Christianity” and Afghan refugees off the coast of Australia finally gain asylum in New Zealand and other countries, Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal calls attention to gender apartheid in Afghanistan in a letter to the editor in today’s New York Times. Smeal focuses on the Taliban’s horrific treatment of women and girls, as well as their targeting of ethnic and religious minorities in Afghanistan, and calls on the United States and the United Nations to pressure Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to withdraw their support of the Taliban.
In other news, the world is finally responding to the refugee crisis off the coast of Australia where refugees have now been moved to an Australian navy vessel that can better serve the needs of the large group. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced this weekend that her nation would accept 150 of the 450 refugees - most of them from Afghanistan - awaiting asylum aboard a ship in Australian waters. The island republic of Nauru will accept the other 300 people temporarily. They will be resettled to other countries, which may include Australia, Norway, and Canada, although Australian Prime Minister John Howard is still determined to keep the refugees off Australian soil, despite public outcry against his position. Clark is now appealing to the UN for more financial support for the 3.6 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and other nations around the world.
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. . . .