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.
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. . . .