Many Vie for Control over Post-Taliban Afghanistan; Women’s Lives Hang in the Balance
Already in the media, debate has begun about what and who would constitute a post-Taliban Afghan government. Some favor allowing Afghanistan’s former king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, negotiate a new representative government by calling a loya jirga, a grand assembly that could possibly determine Afghanistan’s new leadership if the Taliban is ousted. The Taliban has held the Afghan people hostage since 1996 and has instituted a brutal system of gender apartheid where women are denied basic human rights such as education, adequate medical attention, and the right to work.
Some former heads of factions in the mujahideen, are now vying for seats in the loya jirga. Pashtun warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received U.S. and Pakistani military aid as a member of the mujahideen during Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan, is one such leader. Hekmatyar, also know as the “Butcher of Kabul” by many Afghans, is a vicious warrior who fought for control of Kabul before the Taliban seized power. His political party opposed women’s rights and targeted women’s rights leaders in Afghanistan as well as attacked women on the streets of Pakistan in the early 1990s.
The Feminist Majority has called for the restoration of Afghan women’s rights and the establishment of a multi-ethnic constitutional democracy in Afghanistan where women have full representation and a voice in the creation of this new government. “We cannot allow history to repeat itself,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. “Afghan women winning their freedom and rights is essential for restoring a stable, productive Afghan society that does not harbor terrorism. We cannot allow one fundamentalist extremist group to be replaced with another.”
For more information on the Feminist Majority’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan, and to find out how you can help, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
Media Resources: Washington Post, 10/5/01; Feminist Majority
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. . . .