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.
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. . . .