Acknowledging a healthcare crisis for Afghan women refugees, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has requested $4.5 million for donor countries to provide refugees with reproductive healthcare services including services intended to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Currently, there are over 5 million Afghan refugees outside of Afghanistan in neighboring countries plus millions more displaced within Afghanistan or at the borders. Seventy-five percent of Afghan refugees are women, many of whom are pregnant and some of whom have high-risk pregnancies. According to U.N. agencies, refugee women are also more susceptible to rape and other types of sexual violence which can lead to higher mortality rates, an increase in the spread of STDs, and an increase in unsafe abortions. As reported by healthcare providers in refugee areas, delivering services to Afghan women refugees is hindered by a lack of trained female staff and a lack of facilities in addition to poor funding.
Refugees who have fled to Pakistan face increased instability as protests and rioting have occurred and are expected to continue in Quetta and Peshawar since the U.S. launched military strikes in Afghanistan. Rioters in Quetta torched banks, theaters showing Western films, and the local United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office. A mob also attempted to invade the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The violence in Quetta has hampered preparation efforts by U.N. agencies there to assist the thousands of refugees, mostly women and children, expected to cross the borders escaping escalating violence in Afghanistan. Anti-U.S. protestors also destroyed the offices of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an anti-land mine program, and a women’s development agency in a Pakistani border town. Afrasiab Khattak, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called the destruction, “a campaign against nongovernmental organizations that identifies them with the West in people’s minds.”
The Feminist Majority has launched a massive campaign aimed at securing more humanitarian aid, the restoration of Afghan women’s rights, and the establishment of a constitutional democracy in Afghanistan. The humanitarian crisis for Afghans predominately affects women and children who lack food, water, shelter, and adequate healthcare services. While the Feminist Majority applauds President Bush’s pledge of $320 million in humanitarian aid, much more is needed to ease the suffering of the innocent Afghan people.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .