Bush Condemns Taliban; Feminists Push for Humanitarian Aid
In his strong address before a joint-session of Congress, President Bush condemned the Taliban regime. In doing so, Bush cited the plight of Afghan women, the rampant starvation Afghan people are facing, and the important U.S. role as the largest source of humanitarian aid to people in the country.
Meanwhile, the Feminist Majority Foundation has launched an effort to increase humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees, who are mostly women and children. In 2000, over 3.5 million Afghan refugees already were living in Pakistan and another 1.5 million in Iran and other countries. Six hundred thousand more Afghans reportedly had crossed the Pakistan border in the past year to escape the worst drought in 30 years, continuous fighting, and the brutalities of the Taliban regime. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., tens of thousands of more refugees crossed the borders of neighboring countries before the borders were sealed over the weekend. Experts expected hundreds of thousands more refugees to flee Afghanistan if the borders are relaxed.
In Pakistan, half of Afghan refugees live in refugee camps and almost another half, mostly ethnic minorities, have migrated to the cities. The Feminist Majority Foundation continues to press for a dramatic increase in food, shelter, health care, sanitation and other assistance to Afghan refugees who have migrated to the cities of Pakistan as well as those who live in the refugee camps. The conditions among refugees are dire, with little food, with many having no more than plastic sheets for shelter, and with virtually no sanitation. These conditions have resulted in widespread disease, death, and political instability. At this time, for the most part, the United Nations has provided only very limited assistance to refugees who live in camps and no assistance to refugees outside of the camps who are just as desperate.
Media Resources: Washington Post, 9/21/01; Agence France Presse 9/2/101; Feminist Majority Foundation
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. . . .