Clementina Cantoni, an Italian aid worker abducted May 16 while working for CARE International in Kabul, was released yesterday after being held hostage for 24 days. Cantoni had managed CARE’s “Humanitarian Assistance for Women” project since 2003. At a news conference following her release, Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali told reporters that the negotiations that led to her release were ultimately successful because of an outpouring of support by Afghan, Italian, and other world leaders and organizations, reports the LA Times. Additionally, women helped by CARE International organized several demonstrations in Kabul calling for her release, according to the BBC.
Cantoni’s abduction in May marked yet another attack against aid workers in an increasingly dangerous situation for aid organization staff in Afghanistan. Women in particular have been the targets of this increasing violence. According to a report from the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office and CARE in May, “the unprecedented number” of fatalities among workers for non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance is impacting their ability to reach those who need assistance.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .