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
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. . . .