Afghanistan: Troubles Persist, NATO to Assume Control of ISAF
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) readies to take control of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Monday, Afghanistan continues to struggle amidst growing attacks on aid workers and law enforcement officers in its provinces. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations (UN), Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and progressive organizations including the Feminist Majority, ISAF remains confined within Kabul. At his farewell press conference this week, outgoing ISAF commander Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst of Germany credited ISAF for securing the capital city of Kabul; however, "What I really want to do is to wake up the international community to do each and every thing to provide security in the province," reported the Agence France Presse. Since late July, roughly 60 people have died in attacks by suspected al-Qaeda supporters, predominantly in the south-the former stronghold of the Taliban, the AFP reported. Just yesterday, six Afghan soldiers and a US aid worker were killed by ambush in the southern province of Helmand.
Since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, Afghan women in Kabul have slowly begun returning to school and work. Earlier this month, Afghan women's rights advocates submitted 100,000 signed copies of the "Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women," urging the country's 35-member constitutional commission to grant women fundamental rights and freedoms in the new constitution. However, because security remains a concern, many women continue to wear the burqa, according to Reuters. "A country's tradition is stronger than its constitution; we cannot change it very quickly... It's very difficult, and we must go carefully step by step," Dr. Soraya Rahim, deputy minister of Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs told Reuters.
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. . . .