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6/11/2001 - FMF’s Clinic Project Assists Women on Waves

Women on Waves left the Netherlands today to travel to international waters off the shores of Ireland, where abortion is illegal, to provide abortion and reproductive health services to women on a specially equipped vessel. FMF’s National Clinic Access Project’s staff is providing technical expertise in contemporary threat management and is assisting in the development and implementation of security protocols for the ship. The Dutch vessel, led by gynecologist Rebecca Gomperts, will provide non-surgical abortions, contraception, counseling, and other services. Gomperts and her mostly female crew hope that the presence of Women on Waves will encourage dialogue about abortion in Ireland.

According to the Irish Family Planning Association, more than 6,000 Irish women traveled to Britain to obtain abortions last year. It is unknown how many others attempt at-home abortions or seek unsafe, illegal abortions. The United Nations estimates that 80,000 women and girls worldwide die annually from complications resulting from botched, illegal abortions. Women’s health and feminist organizations estimate the number to be greater than 200,000.

To learn more about abortion and population issues worldwide, you can purchase a copy of the Feminist Majority’s award-winning video, “Abortion for Survival” in our Online Feminist Store.

For more information on Irish abortion law and reproductive health access, please visit the Irish Family Planning Association

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

6/7/2001 - British Airways Will Pay in Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

British Airways will pay millions of dollars in back pay to a group of more than 500 flight attendants who were prohibited from working on flights while pregnant. A British employment tribunal found the airline guilty of sex discrimination in 1998. A settlement was finally reached this week: the airline will pay $3.2 million in back pay from flying allowances lost when pregnant flight attendants were moved to ground duties.

6/6/2001 - CRLP To Sue Bush Over Global Gag Rule

The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against President George W. Bush for censoring free speech and will sue him for the global gag rule. This rule bars U.S. aid to family planning programs in developing nations that use their own, separate funds to counsel or advocate abortions. “President Bush took away my right to speak because I support a position with which he disagrees… Yet groups that oppose abortion rights are not censored,” says Janet Benshoof, President of CRLP. The organization will ask a Manhattan federal court to block a section of the global gag rule that bars groups from advocating the reform of abortion laws overseas.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-partisan research organization, estimates that more than 70,000 women worldwide die each year from complications resulting from botched, illegal abortions. The global gag rule prevents family planning clinics from offering any information on abortion or the consequences of illegal abortion, and in many cases discourages clinics from treating women and girls who are suffering from abortion-related complications.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

6/6/2001 - Taliban Imposes Islamic Rule on Foreigners

The Taliban announced this week that it will imposes its extreme, fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law on foreigners in Afghanistan, even going so far as to require foreigners to sign an agreement to obey Islamic laws before entering the country. All persons in Afghanistan must not drink alcohol, eat pork, listen to loud music, or have “inappropriate contact” with members of the opposite sex. Women are prohibited from driving. Failure to comply will result in expulsion from Afghanistan or three days to one month of jail time. “Illegal sexual relations” will be punished according to Islamic law, which, under the Taliban, has included severe beatings and even death. Most Muslim nations, except Saudi Arabia and now Afghanistan, allow non-Muslims exemptions from compliance with Islamic law.

The Taliban’s new edicts come at a time of increasing tensions between the Taliban and the United Nations. According to a U.N. official, the Taliban is “narrowing humanitarian space,” restricting severely the U.N.’s ability to provide aid to the thousands of displaced persons within Afghanistan who are in need of food and shelter. According to the Afghanistan Support Group, the main organization that coordinates all of the Afghan aid, including aid distributed through U.N. channels, the Taliban is risking almost all of the aid to Afghanistan with its increasingly restrictive policies. The ASG warns that the situation is worsening daily.

For more information, news, and take action opportunities on gender apartheid in Afghanistan and the humanitarian crisis there, please visit FMF’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan.

6/6/2001 - On 20th Anniversary of AIDS, Annan Calls for Attn to Women’s Health

With the 20th anniversary of AIDS making headlines around the world, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan chose to highlight the link potential of women’s empowerment to stem the spread of the disease. Addressing the Global Health Council last week, Annan pointed to shifting patterns of infection, “Today, in sub-Saharan Africa, 55 per cent of HIV-positive adults are women. Infection rates in young African women are far higher than in young men. And in the world as a whole, at least half of all new infections are among women.” Annan blamed the higher male to female transmission rates on poverty, abuse and violence, lack of information, coercion by older men, and male promiscuity. The effects of AIDS, he said, are more devastating to families when women are infected, because they tend to be the primary caregivers, and have the potential to pass the infection on to children during pregnancy. Last summer, in preparation for the 13th International Aids Conference, a group of women’s organizations wrote an open letter to South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki arguing that gender inequality is the key obstacle to AIDS prevention. They noted that the number of women’s HIV infection is skyrocketing in countries where women’s sexual and reproductive rights are violated.

Learn more about Women & AIDS

6/1/2001 - Morning-After Pill Goes Over-the-Counter in Belgium

Belgian Health Minister Magda Alvoet announced yesterday that the morning-after pill will be made available to women in Belgium without a prescription beginning on June 10. Alvoet expressed hope that this move would cut the number of women under 20 seeking abortions by increasing access to emergency contraception. Pharmacists will dispense the pill, sold under the name Norlevo, over-the-counter and are being encouraged by the government to distribute information on contraception along with the drug.

Only two countries – Belgium and Britain – have made the morning-after pill available over-the-counter. The pill can prevent pregnancy from occurring if taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse.

6/1/2001 - Taliban Adds New Restrictions on Women, Feels UN Pressure

In the face of stepped-up pressure from the United Nations (UN) for the Taliban to grant women more freedom, the Taliban has imposed a new ban restricting foreign women from driving cars in Afghanistan. The ban is the latest in a long series of restrictions on women’s rights, and more recently, on women aid workers’ rights. The UN this week threatened to close UN-operated bakeries that provide food aid to Afghans if the Taliban did not allow female aid workers to help administer a poverty survey related to the operation of the bakeries. The ban on foreign female drivers will further restrict aid agencies’ ability to reach those in greatest need. The Taliban has blamed recent tensions with the UN on pressure from US women’s organizations, despite the fact that their oppression of women and minorities clearly violates the UN charter and international standards of human rights.

5/30/2001 - WHO Warns of Rise in Women Smoking

In preparation for World No-Tobacco Day on Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) this week released a report called “Women and the Tobacco Epidemic.” The report highlights tobacco advertisers’ use of targeted marketing towards women, “effectively exploiting the struggle of women everywhere for equality and women’s rights,” by positioning cigarettes as a sign of independence and freedom. Tobacco advertisers are using slogans similar to the ones they used in the 70s and 80s in the U.S. and other industrialized countries to win female smokers in developing countries. Lines such as “You’ve come a long way, baby,” and the use of the color red try to align smoking with the larger relaxation of social and cultural constraints on women in Muslim countries and China. The result, WHO predicts, will be a massive increase in smoking among women worldwide, from 187 million today to 532 million by 2025. The impact on world health will be serious, negatively affecting women’s health, child health, prenatal health, and income – especially in countries with already poor healthcare, poverty, and high rates of infant mortality.

5/29/2001 - UN Threatens to Stop Bread Aid to Afghanistan

The United Nations World Food Program gave the Taliban until June 15 to agree to allow Afghan women to help implement a survey that ensures the UN’s food aid is getting to the neediest people in the capital city of Kabul. The Taliban has refused on the grounds that allowing Afghan women to work violates their “Islamic” principles. In response, the UN has threatened to close bakeries that supply 282,000 Afghan people with bread at 12% of retail price. The UN is also considering setting up a new organization to police the UN’s existing arms embargo and shut down terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

5/25/2001 - Bush Undermines Powell in Refugee Bureau Nomination

In a move that does not resemble “compassionate conservative” politics, President George W. Bush overruled moderate U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on his choice of who will head a crucial refugee bureau within the U.S. State Department. While Powell chose Alan Kreczko, a longtime civil servant, to head the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the White House overstepped Powell and chose instead John Klink for the important position. Klink, as the adviser to the “Holy See,” represents the interests of the Vatican at the United Nations and is opposed to condom and emergency contraception distribution, despite the current HIV/AIDS epidemic. Bush similarly ignored the advice of moderate Cabinet Member Christine Todd Whitman in rejecting new cleaner air standards. Bush’s rejection of Powell’s nominee is a major setback for Powell as Secretary of State.

5/24/2001 - UN Condemns Taliban for ID Badges

UN Secretary Kofi Annan this week condemned the Taliban decree ordering Hindus to wear a yellow identification badge. The US, India, and other countries have also denounced the badges, likening them to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany. The badge is the most recent of the Taliban militia’s extreme and oppressive decrees. The Taliban’s religious police, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are responsible for patrolling the streets, shops, and hospitals of the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan (about 90% of the country). They are empowered to jail a man for having a beard smaller than his fist, lash a woman for showing bare skin, or close a shop if the owner fails to attend mosque five times a day. Women are barred from working outside the home, except in hospitals. Recently, the Taliban raided a hospital where men and women were working because they dined in the same cafeteria (separated by a curtain). Television, independent radio, and musical instruments are also banned.

The Feminist Majority Foundation continues to encourage the U.S. government to send increased aid to Afghan refugees fleeing from the Taliban. Take Action Now

5/23/2001 - Taliban Beat Unwed Couple Accused of Having Sex

Before a crowd of thousands in a packed stadium in the Afghanistan capital city of Kabul, Taliban regime soldiers delivered 100 lashes to a young man and woman who were accused of having sex without being married. The man collapsed as he was being whipped; the woman sat on the grass as a Taliban judged lashed her back and legs. This abuse comes on the heels of other atrocities committed by the Taliban, including requiring religious minorities in Afghanistan to dress in yellow so all may identify them, shutting down several of the World Food Program bread bakeries that employed Afghan women, and closing four UN offices that were instrumental to peacekeeping efforts in the country.

Since 1994, the Taliban regime has terrorized the people of Afghanistan, especially women and girls, imposing harsh decrees forbidding women from leaving their home unaccompanied by a man, requiring women to wear the restrictive “burqa” clothing, prohibiting women from going to school or working most jobs outside the home. Women have been beat, tortured, or even killed for violating Taliban decrees.

5/22/2001 - Taliban Retaliates After U.S. Humanitarian Aid Package

“Religious Police” Terrorize Hospital, Close Bread Bakeries and UN Offices

The same day U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell announced $43 million in aid to Afghanistan, Taliban “religious police”—The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice—raided a hospital in Kabul, claiming that male and female personnel were “mixing” illegally. Just two days later, the religious police shut down several of the World Food Program bread bakeries that employed Afghan women. And yesterday, the Taliban closed four UN offices that were instrumental to peacekeeping efforts in the country.

“How long is the civilized world going to stand by and watch this barbaric regime destroy the lives of millions of Afghan women and children?” asked Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “We were energized with last week’s $43 million humanitarian aid package, but clearly more help is needed from the international community.”

One million people are at risk of famine in Afghanistan and millions more are in the most desperate poverty imaginable, according to the United Nations. The Taliban’s barbaric rule, the most severe drought in decades, sub-zero temperatures this past winter, military incursions which have displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and a lack of humanitarian aid have created a crisis in Afghanistan. As many as 800,000 people are displaced and without homes and food; hundreds of thousands have crossed the border to neighboring Pakistan in search of relief, only to find death and starvation in refugee camps.

“How are so many Afghans supposed to eat if the Taliban keeps closing the bread bakeries that are barely keeping women and their families alive?” added Smeal. “And now the peacekeeping agencies that risk their lives every day to help save Afghan women and children are being ordered to close their doors and go home. Who is going to help the millions of displaced, starving, and sick?”

Over 190 women's and human rights organizations join The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan in imploring the United States and the United Nations to do everything in its power to help restore the rights of Afghan women and girls. The Campaign, chaired by Mavis Leno, continues to press the U.S. government to deny the Taliban recognition until the rights of women and girls are fully and permanently restored, to increase humanitarian assistance directed to Afghan women and children, and to increase refugee admission of women and girls fleeing the brutal gender apartheid regime.

5/22/2001 - Taliban to Force Religious Minorities in Afghanistan to Wear Yellow

The terrorist Taliban regime has requested a religious edict or “fatwa” to force non-Muslim religious minorities in Afghanistan to wear yellow garb so they may be singled out by all. “This latest edict is reminiscent of the Third Reich that required Jews to wear a yellow star of David on their clothing, and we all know what that led to,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “The treatment of minorities in Afghanistan is bordering on a Holocaust. The civilized world must do more.”

The Taliban’s announcement resulted in an uproar of opposition. The prime minister of India, a country dominated by the Hindu religion, expressed his anger and said the Taliban’s decision is further evidence of the terrorist group’s “backward and unacceptable ideology.” There are approximately 5,000 Hindus living in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capitol, and thousands more in towns across the country.

5/21/2001 - Taliban Closes World Food Program Bakeries

The Taliban terrorist regime has again shut down several of the World Food Program (WFP) bakeries over the weekend that are run by Afghan women and which supply approximately one-fifth of the bread supply for the Afghanistan capital city, Kabul. According to the U.S. State Department, the bakeries may have been reopened today.

In August 2000, the Taliban closed the bakeries, but reopened them one day later under pressure from the United Nations (UN). The Taliban forbids women from working outside of the home or for foreign aid organizations outside the health sector, even though foreign aid officials say that projects in health, education and the provision of food largely depend on women workers. Closing the WFP bakeries forces the women who worked there to rely on begging and charity in order to survive.

The Taliban has also closed four UN offices in Afghanistan that were instrumental to peacekeeping efforts in the country. The Taliban closed the offices in retaliation to the sanctions the UN placed on the terrorist army because of the regime’s violations of human rights and continual harboring of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

5/18/2001 - US Provides $43 Million in Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday announced $43 million in humanitarian aid to people in Afghanistan. The move comes after the barbaric rule of the Taliban military regime combined with severe drought and extreme temperatures caused hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens to flee their homes. As many as 800,000 Afghans are thought to be displaced within Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands more have fled to Pakistan, only to find death and starvation in refugee camps. In his announcement, Powell stated explicity that the aid would be dispensed through the United Nations and NGOs, not through the Taliban.

Women have suffered disproportionately under the military rule of the Taliban. The Taliban has enforced a wide range of restrictive decrees against women, including banning them from school (in or out of the home) and forbidding them from leaving their homes without a close male relative. A recent survey by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) shows that 90% of Afghan women and men support the rights of women currently restricted by the Taliban regime

The Feminist Majority Foundation has been urging the increase of humanitarian assistance to Afghans, especially women and children, who are in peril for their lives. At the urging of the Feminist Majority, 13 U.S. Senators, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Powell urging the provision of emergency assistance to help both internally displaced Afghans and Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.

The Feminist Majority is also working to develop legislation that would provide more funding for healh, education, and income generation for programs to help women and girls in Afghanistan and living as refugees in Pakistan. Caring individuals have already sent thousands of letters and e-mails through FMF's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and (Send an E-Mail Now).

5/18/2001 - Taliban Terrorizes Hospital to Stop Women and Men from “Mixing”

Members of Taliban “religious police” yesterday raided the first independently run hospital in Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan, claiming that male and female personnel were “mixing” illegally. Twenty armed soldiers stormed the new Emergency Surgical Hospital in Kabul, surrounded doctors and staff at lunch in the cafeteria, and proceeded to beat and harass them. The charge was that male and female staff members were allowed to eat together, something strictly prohibited by Taliban rule. Hospital staff claims that a curtain divided the cafeteria. In protest, hospital management discharged all of its patients with cash and medicines.

5/18/2001 - PHR Reports Afghans Oppose Taliban’s Restrictions on Women

The rights of women are strongly supported by more than 90% of the Afghan women and men included in the recent survey conducted in Afghanistan by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Women’s Health and Human Rights in Afghanistan: A Population Based Assessment, is the first study to systematically assess human rights concerns of a large Afghan population.

The study found that the women surveyed in areas controlled by the Taliban "almost unanimously expressed that the Taliban had made their life ‘much worse’, attributing their declining mental and physical health to Taliban policies." When the women living under the Taliban are compared to women living in non-Taliban controlled areas, they report significantly worse physical and mental health, including much higher rates of major depression and suicide.

Another significant outcome of the survey is the Afghan people’s disagreement with the Taliban regime’s claims that the restrictions they have imposed on women are dictated by Islamic Law. More than 80% of the men and women surveyed believe that the teachings of Islam do not restrict women’s human rights.

Based on their findings, the PHR report calls for the end of the "systematic discrimination against women" by the Taliban. Among its other recommendations, PHR calls for the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, while also reporting that more than a third of the women surveyed said that Taliban policies restricted their access to humanitarian assistance.

Read the complete report

5/7/2001 - French Parliament Hears Plight of Three Afghan Women

Three Afghan women, traveling under pseudonyms and wearing the all-enshrouding burqa, visited the French parliament last week in their campaign to raise international awareness about gender apartheid in their country. The women has visited the European parliament earlier that week, and visited France at the invitation of the President of the French Assembly, Raymond Forni. The women spoke of the atrocities committed against the women and girls of Afghanistan by the terrorist Taliban regime, including the story of a woman whose feet were beaten until they bled because the was wearing white shoes – the color of the Taliban flag. They pleaded that the visit be just the first step in a political campaign against the Taliban, and called for the French to exert pressure on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which support the Taliban, and the United States. ““We took a risk coming here,” said one of the women, “but we don’t care because what we go through every day is like death, so real death doesn’t scare us. How else could we continue our struggle for the women of Afghanistan?”

TAKE ACTION! Urge the Bush administration to continue U.S. opposition to the Taliban.

TAKE ACTION! Urge the United States to provide emergency assistance to Afghan refugees.

5/7/2001 - Namibia Makes Homophobia National Policy

In late March, Namibian President Sam Nujoma issued a statement ordering the purging of homosexuals from his African nation. “The Republic of Namibia does not allow homosexuality or lesbianism here,” Nujoma said. “Police are ordered to arrest you, deport you and imprison you.” Nujoma made similar remarks in 1997 at the Swapo Women’s Council Congress, saying, “Homosexuals must be condemned and rejected in our society.” Nujoma also argues that pushing for the inclusion of gays and lesbians under human rights campaigns is part of “foreign influence,” and that Namibian citizens are not part of the effort to gain rights for the LGBT community. The Namibian Society for Human Rights and the Rainbow Project, a coalition of Namibian gays and lesbians, are call the policy “unconstitutional,” and have spoken out against Nujoma.

Learn more about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights worldwide at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

5/3/2001 - UPDATE! House International Relations Committee Approves Bill to Reverse Global Gag Rule

In a bi-partisan 26 – 22 vote, the International Relations Committee approved a bill introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) that would effectively overturn President Bush’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy or “Global Gag Rule,” that prohibits recipients of U.S. international family planning assistance from counseling women on abortion or engaging in political speech on abortion. Republican Congressmen Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), Amo Houghton (R-NY) and Jim Leach (R- IA) joined committee democrats in support of overturning the “Gag Rule.” Rep. Lee’s bill included two provisions: Foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cannot be denied funding based on the medical services they provide, including counseling and referral services. Foreign NGOs, as a condition of eligibility for U.S. development assistance need not sacrifice their right to use their own funds to engage in free speech and assembly activities any more than U.S. based groups are asked to do. The bill must come to a vote before the entire House, as well as the full Senate, before becoming law.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

5/3/2001 - Catholic Church Policy Forces Filipino Women into Unsafe Abortions

Women in the Philippines are trapped in an unbearable dilemma: the Catholic Church, whose influence over the country is strong, prohibits all forms of contraception, but extreme poverty prohibits large families. As a result, the Philippines has a very high abortion rate: 20-30 out of every 1,000 women of childbearing age have had an abortion, despite its illegal status. Filipino women, in an effort to keep their abortions secret, use crude methods, such as inserting sharp objects into the uterus or drinking toxic chemicals. The problem is so severe that illegal abortion is now the fourth leading cause of death among Filipino women.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute shows that the primary factor determining a country’s abortion rate is not the legal status of the procedure but the rate at which women experience unintended pregnancies. With no access to contraception, Filipino women are then forced into unsafe illegal abortions. The death rate associated with abortion is hundreds of times higher in developing nations where abortion is often illegal. In Latin America, the abortion mortality rate is 119 deaths per 100,000 abortions, compared to just .02-1.2 deaths per 100,000 abortions in developed nations. The Philippines is also facing a high population growth rate that, if it is not stopped, would double the small nation’s population in the next 35 years. Former President Joseph Estrada saw this, coupled with the high abortion mortality rate, as a reason to defy the long-endured Catholic Church. The church’s anger at his decision to make contraceptives available was a major factor in his forceful oust from power in January of this year.

For more information on the Catholic Church and its repressive policies and influence worldwide, visit Catholics for a Free Choice and their See Change” Campaign.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

5/2/2001 - 13 Senators Urge Powell to Send Emergency Funds to Afghanistan

Led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 13 U.S. senators joined in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell urging the U.S. to immediately send $30 million in emergency relief funds to aid the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, primarily women and children, who have fled their homes to escape the brutal rule of the Taliban regime, a total lack of food, and the worst drought to hit Afghanistan in 30 years. As many as 800,000 internal refugees seek relief within Afghanistan; hundreds of thousands have crossed the border to neighboring Pakistan in search of relief, only to find death and starvation in refugee camps.

In addition to Sen. Feinstein, Senators Joseph Biden (D- DE), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-LA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Paul Wellstone (D-WI) also signed the letter to Sec. Powell.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has led the effort to increase funding to assist Afghan women and girls. Take Action Today! Demand Immediate Emergency Assistance for Afghan Refugees.

5/2/2001 - Congresswoman Lee Introduces Legislation to Reverse Global Gag Rule

Today Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) will introduce legislation to the House Foreign Relations Committee that could reverse President Bush’s re-instatement of the Mexico City Policy, or “Global Gag Rule,” that prohibits recipients of U.S. international family planning assistance from counseling women on abortion or engaging in political speech on abortion. The legislation has two primary provisions: Foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cannot be denied funding based on the medical services they provide, including counseling and referral services. Foreign NGOs, as a condition of eligibility for U.S. development assistance need not sacrifice their right to use their own funds to engage in free speech and assembly activities any more than U.S. based groups are asked to do.

U.S. international family planning assistance is crucial to lives of millions of women. Denying women the information they need about family planning and abortion forces them to seek unsafe illegal abortions. Re-instating the “Global Gag Rule” was President Bush’s first executive order and “demonstrates that he will use his presidential powers to undermine the reproductive rights of the worlds’ women,” said Lee.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

5/1/2001 - Pakistan Increasing Support for Taliban

The U.S. State Department’s new report by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterroism demonstrates that Pakistan has increased its support of the fundamentalist Taliban regime, which has forced the women and girls of Afghanistan into a state of virtual house arrest. Reliable reports have confirmed that Pakistan provides the Taliban with material, fuel, funding, technical assistance, and military advisers.

This aid to the Taliban comes at a time when the people of Afghanistan are suffering from the most severe drought the region has seen. The situation is exacerbated by the Taliban’s violent actions and draconian edicts. The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees visited Afghanistan this week, and declared the situation catastrophic. With tens of thousands of Afghans being turned away by neighboring countries and the water supply dwindling, Afghanistan now has more internal refugees than any other country. International aid is desperately needed.

Take Action! Ensure that the United States continues to refuse to recognize the Taliban.

Urge the U.S. to provide emergency assistance to Afghan refugees and displaced persons.