Afghans in Kandahar, the base of the Taliban regime, are fleeing into Pakistan or into remote villages in Afghanistan for fear of U.S. retaliation and possible conscription into the Taliban militia. According to refugee reports, Taliban soldiers began forcibly recruiting men and boys of all ages to take up arms, going so far as to close every religious school in the city so students could begin military training. Members of the Taliban regime have seized men in the streets of Kandahar or in their homes and ordered them to prepare for military action. In response to this threat and to the threat of continuing drought and starvation, great numbers of residents are leaving Kandahar and joining the millions of other Afghans who have fled their homes in search of food, shelter, and some semblance of safety. Currently, there are roughly over 7 million Afghan refugees of which 3.5 million are in Pakistan. Seventy-five percent of all Afghan refugees are women and children. Humanitarian aid is essential to save their lives, prevent destabilization of Pakistan, and to cause defection from the Taliban.
United Nations agencies have requested $538 million to provide necessary emergency assistance for Afghan refugees. The U.S. has already announced $100 million in new aid, but this is only a fraction of what is needed. To meet the U.N. appeal to donor nations, some 40% must come from the U.S. Individuals are also trying to meet this humanitarian need. Popular actress Angelina Jolie donated $1 million to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees after traveling to Pakistan and Iran to visit Afghan refugees living in the camps there.
The Feminist Majority is conducting a massive campaign urging more humanitarian aid, the restoration of women’s rights, and the establishment of democracy as part of any long-range solution to terrorism. Mavis Leno, FM Chair of the Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan, will appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday, October 3. To find out how you can help, visit www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
Media Resources: Washington Post, 10/2/01; LA Times, 9/28/01
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. . . .