Group Urges Priority for Women's and Human Rights in Afghan Constitution
A leading human rights organization is urging that Afghanistan's new constitution include support for women's and human rights. Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a private letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, insisting that he include strong human rights protections into Afghanistan's draft constitution and to publicly reiterate his support for the importance of human rights in Afghanistan. HRW asks Karzai to "publicly state that the new Afghan constitution should protect the human rights of all persons in Afghanistan, with special emphasis on women and religious and ethnic minorities...announce publicly that the constitution should guarantee equality for all Afghans, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, or religious."
The letter asks Karzai to include language giving the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission a "meaningful mandate," reports Radio Free Europe. It urges Karzai to both publicly and privately support the commission by giving it full constitutional status and to reprimand anyone who interferes with the commission's mandate to investigate and publicize violations of human rights in Afghanistan.
The letter also addresses the need for improved security in the country. Gains for girls' education are now at risk. Many parents are afraid to send their girls to school after more than 30 girls' schools have been attacked in the past year. According to Human Rights Watch, "the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan is the largest impediment to the protection of human rights, reconstruction, and political stability. Without an improved security situation it will be difficult and perhaps impossible to hold a credible constitutional drafting process or national elections." Along with the Feminist Majority, HRW calls for a full-fledged expansion of the NATO led peacekeeping force (ISAF) outside of Kabul and for more support from the United States for logistical, intelligence, and political support necessary for ISAF to expand.
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. . . .