Even after escaping the Taliban and fleeing to refugee camps in Pakistan, Afghan women are not free from danger, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative Dr. Olivier Brasseur. Brasseur spoke candidly with the BBC about the threat that many Afghan women face in the camps because of poor healthcare services, lack of funds, and general violence.
Brasseur reports that UNFPA is working with non-governmental organizations in Pakistan to deliver healthcare services to refugees, especially to women in need of obstetric and pre- and post-natal services, as well as education on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS. Women are more at risk for sexual violence, including rape, in refugee situations. Some NGOs report that women have been forced into prostitution, as it is the only way for some to generate income. UNFPA is trying to organize co-operatives for refugee women to alleviate poverty, but so far, Brasseur admits, there is little work. Aggravating the situation is the Taliban, which has, according to Brasseur, raided health clinics and intimidated women, some of whom are afraid to go out during the day.
The Afghan humanitarian crisis is the largest UNFPA relief operation in history. In addition to inadequate healthcare and rampant poverty, refugees lack food, clean water, and proper shelter. Seventy percent of all Afghan refugees are women and children. To find out how you can help, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
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. . . .