Report: Afghan Women Still Facing Human Rights Abuses
Amnesty International issued a report today asserting that women's rights in Afghanistan have barely improved since the fall of the Taliban. The Amnesty report accuses the international community and the Afghan Transitional Administration of failing to do enough to protect Afghan women and girls from human rights abuses such as rape and forced marriage.
In particular, Amnesty is concerned about the extent of violence women and girls are facing in Afghanistan and how these "crimes continue with the active support or passive complicity of state agents, armed groups, families, and communities." The report says that "nearly two years on, discrimination, violence, and insecurity remain rife, despite promises by world leaders, including President Bush and secretary of State Colin Powell, that the war in Afghanistan would bring liberation for women."
Amnesty calls for immediate steps to be taken by the international community to ensure women and girls receive protection from human rights abuses by armed groups. It also calls for the extension of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) beyond Kabul with a specific mandate for ISAF to protect women and girls from abuses. The BBC reports that NATO has moved closer to a limited expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul due to the deteriorating security situation in the provinces over recent months. The Feminist Majority is leading the call for 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. . . .