Afghan Women Still Face Extreme Violence, Reports UN Expert
United Nations expert Yakin Erturk said that violence against women in Afghanistan is commonplace, pointing to forced and child marriages as the primary cause of violence. Erturk, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on Violence Against Women, highlighted poverty, lack of education, and years of warfare as the major causes of women’s current plight in Afghanistan.
Ertürk has just finished a ten-day visit to Afghanistan, where she met with government officials, judiciary members, doctors, police officers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and women in prison to assess Afghan women’s current circumstances. Afghan women have little protection from abusive situations and few options for redress. The UN expert urged the Afghanistan government and the international community to make the eradication of violence against Afghan women a priority.
The Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs estimates that approximately 60 percent of Afghan marriages include women under 16 years old, the legal marriage age for women, according to IRIN News. Child marriage affects millions of women in developing countries and puts women at risk of contracting health problems, such as obstetric fistula, from becoming pregnant at an early age. Masouda Jalal, the Afghan Minister of Women’s Affairs, called child marriage “a violation of equality” and harmful to girl’s health, their educational and economic opportunities and political participation,” reports IRIN News.
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. . . .