Afghan Minister Says Constitution Lacks Essential Women's Rights Language
Afghanistan's State Minister of Women's Affairs, Mahbuba Hoquqmal, said that the draft constitution released last week does not do enough to guarantee women's rights. Hoquqmal has suggested changes to the constitution that would guarantee and protect women's rights such as using the term "men and women" instead of the word "citizen" because some Afghan men do not see their wives as citizens of Afghanistan. Hoquqmal wants to add a sentence to the preamble that says that Afghan adopted a constitution with the aim of "securing equal rights for women and men and eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women," reports the Associated Press. In addition, Hoquqmal is also urging that two women, not one, should represent each province in the lower house and that women should be guaranteed representation in provincial assemblies and local councils.
While the draft constitution does contain provisions guaranteeing human rights, equal rights, and non-discrimination for all Afghan citizens, it lacks language that women's rights and human rights advocates had urged explicitly defining "citizens" as both women and men and leaves women's rights in many areas vulnerable to interpretation of Islam. In addition, the current version of the constitution does not contain language to protect women from forced marriage, early marriage, or protect women's property rights.
The draft does obligate Afghanistan to abide by international treaties and covenants including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Presumably, this guarantee would extend to the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Afghanistan ratified in March of 2003.
The constitution will be debated and adopted at the upcoming loya jirga (grand council) next month.
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. . . .