Religious fundamentalism is on the rise in Afghanistan, an international human rights group warned officials this week at the 59th session of the UN Human Rights Commission. Human Rights Watch (HRW) representative Loubna Freih addressed the Commission saying, "The international community has allowed warlords and local military commanders to take control of much of the country..." creating an environment "not unlike under the Taliban," according to HRW's statement before the Commission.
Despite repeated calls by feminist and progressive groups urging expansion of peacekeeping troops, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) remains limited within Kabul. Without adequate security and UN human rights monitoring, "efforts to break the cycle of impunity and the stranglehold of gunmen are unlikely to succeed," Freih continued.
The return of women and girls to school, once hailed as a milestone in the Taliban's removal from power, continues to face setbacks. Villagers near Gardez told the Christian Science Monitor, "We are happy the Taliban are gone; we have no choice but to be happy...But the problem today is that our areas are not safe. If you rebuild a school, but it's not safe, then the children can't go and what's the use of the school? If you build a road, but there is no security, then what's the use of the road?" Throughout the country, militias are forming, purporting to keep the peace. Currently, local warlords command an estimated 100,000 militiamen. The Afghan government intends to eventually replace those forces with a new national army, reported the Associated Press.
Moreover, Afghan Education Minister Yunus Qanooni said Wednesday that despite a promised $200 million budget for this school year, which started March 23, the ministry of education had only received $86 million so far, according to Agence France Presse. "If we are not successful in getting our proposed budget, this year we will be forced to stand at the school gates and tell the children not to come to school," he told AFP.
The Feminist Majority continues 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.
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .