The citizens of Afghanistan will vote on Sunday for a national assembly and members of 34 provincial councils. The democratic vote — and the presence of women as candidates — would have been unimaginable just a few years ago when the repressive, violent Taliban was in power, but violence and intimidation are seriously undermining the process according to a report, Afghanistan on the Eve of Parliamentary and Provincial Elections, released by Human Rights Watch yesterday.
Although 25 percent of the seats are set aside for women, women comprise only approximately 12 percent of the 2,707 candidates for seats in the national assembly (Wolesi Jirga) and 8 percent of the candidates for Provincial Councils (247 out of 3025). Human Rights Watch points to the lack of security as a cause for the small numbers of women candidates for Provincial Councils.
Violence has been escalating in the months leading up to the elections, with the Taliban forces and other militants killing more than 1,200 people in the last six months. The number of candidates assassinated rose to seven yesterday when a candidate living in Helmand province was dragged from his home and shot by suspected Taliban gunmen.
A woman candidate in the Nangrahar province, Safiya Sadiqi, was attacked with guns, grenades and rockets last week, but wasn’t harmed. She supports a moderate form of Islam, is anti-warlord and pro-women’s rights. At a small rally, reported by The Christian Science Monitor, she described a pregnant woman being driven to the hospital in the trunk of a car, while her male relatives sat in the front seat. "I asked the men, how can they do this?” she said. “Show me where in the Koran it says you should do this."
Media Resources: Christian Science Monitor, 9/16/05; The Washington Post, 9/16/05; Human Rights Watch reports 9/15/05, 8/2005
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. . . .