A new report issued by a leading human rights organizations warns that continuing instability and control of Afghanistan by warlords could threaten political participation, particularly by women. Human Rights Watch (HRW) emphasizes that this is especially troubling because the Afghan government is currently soliciting public comments on a draft of the country's new constitution, as well as preparing for the 2004 elections and voter registration. Even more worrisome is that the United States is supporting the very warlords and politicians in Afghanistan who are using violence and intimidation to keep women indoors, endangering the gains made on women's rights since the Taliban fell, according to HRW.
"The fact is that most girls in Afghanistan are still not in school," said Brad Adams, executive director of HRW's Asia Division. "In many cases, returning refugee families who sent their girls to school in Pakistan or Iran are afraid to do the same in Afghanistan." The group documents human rights abuses in Southeast Afghanistan, where members of the army and police force are raping women and girls, robbing Afghan families, extorting money from shopkeepers, and kidnapping Afghans for ransom. Journalists and political organizers report being harassed, arrested, and threatened with death.
HRW calls on the US and its allies in Afghanistan to end their support of the warlords involved in human rights abuses. In addition, it urges NATO to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, currently limited to the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul. A recent survey found that the majority of Americans (67 percent) support expanding ISAF in Afghanistan.
The Feminist Majority continues leading the call for International Security Assistance Force (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 in order to protect women's rights in Afghanistan.
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. . . .