HRW Report Finds Afghan Women Police Officers Face Harassment, Violence
Female police officers in Afghanistan are fighting harassment in co-ed changing facilities and restrooms at the hands of male colleagues, according to a recent report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In the story, released today, HRW found that women in the Afghan police force face sexual harassment, assault, and even rape from male colleagues. Many of these attacks occur in changing rooms and bathrooms, which have peepholes or no locks. Women are forced to stand guard for each other while they change or use the restroom. On April 10th, the police chief ordered that all stations have separate facilities for women, however such orders have been ignored before. Despite a goal of increasing the number of women in the Afghan police force to 5,000 by 2014, women currently only make up 1% of the country's police and the conditions faced by women present a recruitment challenge. A senior official, who asked to remain anonymous, told reporters, "Men whose rank is junior to me won't salute me. They don't value women as they should... I am supposed to recruit women, but people say they can't send their daughters because it is not safe."
The attitude toward women in the police force combined with the small numbers of women police officers have broader implications for the women of Afghanistan, according to HRW. The organization is concerned that without women police officers to assist victims of sexual and gender violence, including fellow police officers, cases will not be reported out of fear of cultural retaliation. Brad Adams, the Asia Director for the HRW, said "The Afghan government's failure to provide female police officers with safe, secure facilities makes them more vulnerable to abuse. This is not just about toilets. It's about the government's recognition that women have a crucial role to play in law enforcement in Afghanistan... Without the consistent presence of female police officers across the country, legal protections for women will remain an unfulfilled promise."
Media Resources: Human Rights Watch 4/25/2013; News Pakistan 4/25/2013; Guardian 4/24/2013
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. . . .