Representatives Question Security on Eve of Elections in Afghanistan
Members of the House International Relations Committee examined the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan during a hearing on US security policy in Afghanistan last Thursday. According to Chairman Henry Hyde's (R-IL) opening statement, "While this is a commendable achievement and an important milestone in Afghanistan's political reconstruction effort, it will only be a marred snapshot in time if the United States and the international community fail to provide adequate security to protect the electoral process in Afghanistan."
Representative Diane Watson (D-CA) asked witnesses how there can be free and fair elections on October 9 without adequate security in Afghanistan. With warnings from the Taliban directed at voters and continuing violent attacks against US and coalition forces, international aid workers, and Afghan citizens, security issues continue to threaten the elections. Some 550 aid workers have been killed over the past six months – making it the most violent period since the fall of the Taliban, according to Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group. In addition, there have been recent reports that Afghanistan's registration process is flawed due to multiple or invalid registrations.
A leading human rights organization reports that warlords are threatening voters, candidates and political organizers preventing the first post-Taliban presidential elections from being fair and free. The director of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch (HRW) asserts that “the warlords are calling the shots. Many voters in rural areas say the militas have already told them how to vote, and that they’re afraid of disobeying them. Activists and political organizers who oppose the warlords fear for their lives.”
The Feminist Majority is leading the call for a significant increase in the number of peacekeepers throughout Afghanistan to provide security and stability. Without adequate resources and security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to fully exercise their rights, and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.
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. . . .