Groups Call on Bush to Expand ISAF and Strengthen Afghan Constitution
On the eve of the opening of Afghanistan's Loya Jirga (grand assembly), leading women's rights, human rights, and Afghan organizations sent an open letter to the Bush Administration urging it to take immediate action to improve security in Afghanistan by supporting the full-scale expansion of international peacekeeping forces (ISAF) throughout Afghanistan and measures to protect Loya Jirga delegates.
The groups are also calling for stronger protections for women's rights and human rights in Afghanistan's new constitution. The current version of the Afghan Constitution does not state that both women and men are full citizens. It also leaves women's rights, human rights, and civil and political rights to extremist interpretations of Islam. The letter cites recent attacks on girl's schools, the reemergence of the Taliban, and the murders of aid workers and calls for the protection of Loya Jirga delegates who speak out for women's rights and human rights who have been threatened by the Taliban and other local commanders.
The Loya Jirga of 500 delegates will be meeting in Kabul next week. However, according to the New York Times, American officials warned that Taliban and Al Qaeda are planning attacks to either disrupt the Loya Jirga meeting or to terrorize the road to the Kabul to prevent delegates from reaching it. The New York Times has reported that a Taliban spokesman told news agencies that anyone that attends the Loya Jirga "deserves to die." Since last Thursday, a bomb went off in Kandahar wounding 20 people; two Indian highway workers were kidnapped by reported Taliban fighters; and a group of census takers were ambushed, leaving one dead. Tension has also increased as a result of US bombings in Eastern Afghanistan that killed women and children over the past weekend.
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. . . .