Afghanistan: Constitution in the Works, Fighting Persists
An eight-member committee created last October to write a new constitution for Afghanistan submitted a draft last week to President Hamid Karzai, reported the Associated Press. While details have yet to be disclosed, the general framework is expected to be based on the 1964 Constitution, incorporate some elements of sharia (Islamic law), and resemble an Islamic democracy with a strong president and weaker parliament—all with terms lasting four to five years.
A president-appointed 30-member commission will gather “public” comment from select Afghans including professors, elders, and religious leaders. Already, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Women’s Affairs have made several recommendations to the commission to improve the status of women, including provisions to guarantee women’s rights, give women full citizenship, increase the age for marriage, and implement compulsory education for girls and boys. In addition, the institutions are urging that the constitution serve as the law of the land, above custom or local rule. The loya Jirga will debate the final draft in October.
Meanwhile, security remains an issue throughout Afghanistan. Last month, two US soldiers were killed when Taliban fighters attacked their convoy. Khalid Pashtoon, spokesman for Gov. Gul Agha Shirzai (Kandahar) told the Washington Post, “The last few weeks the situation in Kandahar was getting worse day by day… The increase in violent incidents started five months ago, but became more common after [the start of] the Iraq war.” Last Sunday, Islamic extremists, under the leadership of former Afghan premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are suspected of launching the rocket attack on International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul, according to Agence France Presse. The Feminist Majority has been leading the call for ISAF expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
When command of ISAF in Afghanistan transferred from Turkey to Germany and the Netherlands in February, German Defense Minister Peter Struck called for NATO to assume larger responsibility for peacekeeping after their six-month command term. This week, the 19 NATO members asked military planners to consider the issue, with the alliance taking charge of the 4,000-person peacekeeping force.
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .