Over 50 People Killed in Afghanistan; UN Envoy Urges the ISAF Expansion
Afghanistan this week has experienced its most violent 24-hour period in nearly a year. A bomb exploded on a bus in the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, killing 15 people including six children. Two Afghan aid workers working for the Afghan Red Crescent were killed and another three injured in southeastern Afghanistan, and more than 40 others were killed in factional fighting in eastern and southern Afghanistan on Wednesday. According to the Associated Press, a rocket landed 400 yards away from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Asadabad on Sunday.
These attacks came only two days after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took over peacekeeping in Afghanistan. The top U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi told AP that he and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan are urging the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) "to consider what the options are to extend security, and thus the reach of the state, beyond the capital." He warned that the lack of security would impede the implementation of the agreement reached in Bonn, Germany in 2001 calling for elections in 2004, AP reports. Almost 200 Afghan women gathered in Kabul this weekend to urge the expansion of ISAF.
The Feminist Majority is 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.
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. . . .