Four girls’ schools in Afghanistan were attacked this weekend—two were hit by rockets and two were set on fire, Reuters reports. Damage was sustained by the schools but there were no reported injuries. All of the schools were located near the Afghan capitol of Kabul in the Wardak province.
These incidents mark an escalation of violence against girls’ schools in Afghanistan. At least eight other girls’ schools have been attacked over the last two months, with the most recent explosion at a school in Kandahar injuring a teacher. Hand-written pamphlets were distributed in Kandahar, the former Taliban stronghold, in April warning of violence to come if women took on jobs or attended school. Kandahar was the site of the recent attempted assassination of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that wounded the governor of Kandahar.
Seven other girls’ schools have also been targets of violence, including a school in the Wardak province that was forced to close by a group of gunmen earlier this month. In addition, two schools in the northern provinces were burned to the ground and three in the southeastern province of Zabul. Another school was bombed in Ghazni province last month, according to Reuters.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday publicly warned that his government would no longer tolerate violence and feuding in the vast areas of the country under the control of local warlords who allied with the United States against the Taliban, according to the Washington Post. US Army General Tommy Franks confirmed that violence in Afghanistan has decreased some but stresses that the security situation is still “dangerous” and “uneven,” according to the American Forces Press Service.
Despite the continued violence in Afghanistan, the State Department last month issued a report questioning the expansion of peacekeeping troops outside of Kabul. Afghan women have indicated that security is their top priority. Threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Sima Samar; the assassination of two government ministers; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the continued use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school show the need for expansion of peace keeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is desperate.
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. . . .