Recent Spate of Violence Could Push Aid Organizations out of Afghanistan
Reports of violence in northern Afghanistan, including the gang rape of a female international aid worker, have raised further concerns about security in the war-torn nation with several international groups threatening to leave the country. “Many aid workers, noting the climate of fear and insecurity in the region, are considering reducing or discontinuing there work there,” said UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva. One US aid organization, whose vehicle was attacked Friday while taking food to a camp for displaced Afghans, has already left. Another nongovernmental organization, which was operating a health clinic in Shulgareh in Balkh province when gunmen opened fire on the clinic, is considering following suit. On June 8, a woman working for a nongovernmental organization was gang raped by seven men who attacked her vehicle and beat up the Afghan staff member with her, according to Almeida. In a letter to Afghanistan’s newly-elected president Hamid Karzai, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called these reports of violence “a serious situation.”
The Feminist Majority has been leading women’s organizations in calling for President Bush to expand security forces in Afghanistan. “Now more than ever it is vitally important that the United States send more peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “To not only keep the international workers safe but to protect the lives of the men, women and children of Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, debate continued over whether or not delegates to the loya jirga would have the right to approve Karzai’s cabinet and the composition of the parliament. After two days of contentious debate, delegate protests and adjournments, Karzai is expected to announce cabinet appointments Tuesday, the final day of the loya jirga.
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. . . .