Afghan Women's Rights Editor on Trial for Blasphemy
Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, the male editor of a women's rights magazine in Afghanistan who was arrested and jailed on October 1, is now on trial on charges of blasphemy. Nasab was arrested for publishing articles criticizing execution and other severe punishments for adultery, thievery, and murder under Sharia (Islamic) law. Nasab was reportedly arrested at the urging of Mohaiuddin Baluch, who serves as a religious advisor to President Hamid Karzai. Religious fundamentalists are calling for Nasab to serve 10 to 15 years in jail.
“This is of grave concern,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “The United States is telling the world that the US is supporting women’s rights and democracy in Afghanistan. Freedom of speech is fundamental to women’s rights and democracy.”
“The arrest and trial of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab on blasphemy charges is a giant step backward for press freedom in Afghanistan,” said Ann Cooper, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which has been following Nasab’s case very closely. “Nasab should be released immediately and without condition.”
The Feminist Majority is calling on women’s rights supporters in the United States to email Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky to seek the immediate release of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab and to urge the global community to join them in their efforts.
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. . . .