Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday reported that in Afghanistan’s Herat province, new restrictions on female education have been introduced, prohibiting men from teaching girls and women in private and imposing strict gender segregation in all schools. Mohammad Deen Fahim, deputy head of Herat’s educational department, last Friday justified the changes, saying that the current methods of teaching that include men teaching women and girls are “in contradiction with Islamic law,” according to HRW. Over the last several months, women and girls have been trying to make up for the lost years of schooling under the Taliban. Until last week, many in Herat attended private courses—in addition to their public schooling—in areas like foreign language and computers. Almost all of the private educational courses are taught by men.
Herat is currently under the control of the local warlord Ismail Khan, who has stifled political dissent and independent media in the province while imposing Taliban-like restrictions on women and girls. A recent HRW report entitled “We Want to Live as Humans: Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan,” found that in the Herat province, women’s rights to work, free speech, and free association continue to be curtailed. The group says situations are similar in other regions of the country.
President Bush recently signed the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002, which authorizes $2.3 billion in aid to Afghanistan over four years and $1 billion to expand international peacekeeping troops. The Act also includes language by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that makes Afghan women a funding priority, earmarking $15 million each year for the Ministry of Women's Affairs and $5 million each year for the Independent Human Rights Commission. However, the Bush Administration’s 2003 budget forwarded to Congress does not include any funding for Afghan reconstruction or expansion of ISAF. This authorization is a major step in securing the funding necessary for Afghan reconstruction and security. The funds must still be appropriated by Congress.
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. . . .