Pakistani Province May Enact Taliban-like Restrictions
Women’s groups in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) bordering Afghanistan are reacting sharply to a proposed bill calling for the enforcement of strict Islamic law. The legislation, which places Sharia law above secular provincial law, paves the way for provincial leaders to “[follow] in the footsteps of the Taliban,” the groups caution, according to the BBC. While members of NWFP’s Islamic coalition insist the law would “curb obscenity and protect human decency,” many women fear new restrictions will ban them from working for foreign non-profit groups. “The way the Islamic parties have started imposing laws in the NWFP we feel will deprive many people of their basic rights,” Kamla Hayyat of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan told the BBC. Already deputies are considering introducing legislation to create a Department of Vice and Virtue, similar to that under the Taliban. In addition, a local legislator has already proposed mandating “purda” or veiling for all women over the age of twelve, the Gulf Daily News reports.
Media Resources: BBC 05/27/03; Gulf Daily News 05/21/03
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. . . .