Following the distribution of pamphlets around mosques near the capital of Sar-i-Pul province in Afghanistan warning women against removing their burqas, two girls’ schools were burned down recently, including their supply of books and blackboards.
The pamphlets that were distributed are reminiscent of similar leaflets handed out in Kandahar in April, which warned of violence to come if parents sent their daughters to school.
Meanwhile, fighting between two rival factions of the former Northern Alliance, allies of the United States against the Taliban, left five or six villages in Northern Afghanistan reeling from injuries and looting and several men dead, the New York Times reports. The United Nations negotiated a new ceasefire late yesterday after a previous truce had been broken a week earlier, according to Reuters. The two groups, Jumbish-I-Milli, led by ethnic Uzbek Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Panjshiri forces under the command of ethnic Tajik Mohammed Atta, have clashed several times since the Taliban was ousted, according to Radio Free Europe.
These reports of violence in the northern regions of Afghanistan come only weeks after the US State Department issued a report questioning the expansion of peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan. The Feminist Majority, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, UN officials, and women’s rights and human rights organization have urged a full-scale expansion of peacekeeping troops throughout the country in order to ensure security and enable reconstruction efforts.
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. . . .