Congress and International Organizations Urge Women's Rights and Security
At a House hearing on Afghanistan and its draft constitution, several members of Congress, administration officials, and representatives of international organizations pressed for more protections for women's rights in the constitution and security in Afghanistan. The Assistant Secretary of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor the State Department Lorne Craner stated, "though the draft makes wide provision for the equal rights of all citizens before the law, the draft does not include a definition of who is a citizen, and does not state that both men and women are citizens." Craner also stated that "more specifics need to be mentioned, such as outlawing discrimination against women, forced and underage marriages, full rights of marriage, divorce, and inheritance for women so that their rights are preserved and protected from possible extremist interpretations."
T. Kumar, Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International USA, stated that he found it shocking to see that there is "no mention of women's rights" in the current draft of the constitution. Kumar and Representative Rohrabacher (R-CA) also expressed concerns that "citizen" is not defined as both male and female Afghans to ensure equal access to rights. In fact, Rohrabacher went on to say that the constitution needs to have a bill of rights that ensure that "women have equal rights."
Amnesty International USA recommended that the Bush Administration increase its financial assistance to rebuild Afghanistan with earmarks for the Ministry of Women's Affairs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and the Judicial Commission.
The Vice President of the International Crisis Group and Amnesty International USA urged the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) size and mandate to keep Afghanistan from becoming a failed state.
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. . . .