Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, October 13, 2006

Maternal Mortality Rates in Afghanistan highest in the world

According to the Afghan Minister of Health, Sayyed Mohammad Amin Fatemi, the maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is the highest in the world. 1,600 women die of pregnancy related causes out of 100,000 live births. The Ministry has placed a number of health counselors in different locations to address a to lack of understanding of pregnancy and hygiene among rural women, which Fatemi said adds to the problem, Herat-based publication "Pagah" reported.
UNICEF’s strategies for tackling maternal mortality place emphasis on access to prenatal services, such as provision of a nutritious diet and regular health check-ups by a health worker. The likelihood of complications during childbirth is greatly reduced by the presence of a trained birth attendant, as well as by the availability of emergency obstetric care should the need arise. UNICEF, in partnership with NGOs and the Government Ministry of Child Health, is working to reduce the dangers of childbearing by proliferating vital services for pregnant women in Afghanistan.

For more information see RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 10, No. 188, Part III, 12 October 2006 available here.
For more information on UNICEF’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality in Afghanistan, click here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New study puts the number of Iraqi dead at 655,000

In a study, using random samples taken from across the country rather than focusing on morgue body counts, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concluded that 655,000 Iraqis died “excessive deaths” since the US-led invasion in 2003. This figure is twenty times greater than estimates sponsored by the Bush administration. The study also concluded that of the 655,000 killed, 601,000 suffered violent deaths; the rest were attributed to disease and other causes.

See RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 10, No. 187, Part III, 11 October 2006, here.

Iran expresses concern over Afghan refugees

Addressing a UN commission on Afghan refugees in Geneva, Iranian Interior Minister Hojatoleslam Mustafa Pur-Mohammadi voiced his concern over the growing number of Afghan refugees in Iran and blamed insufficient international aid for Afghanistan for the decreasing rate of return of refugees to their homeland. Pur-Mohammadi added that Iran has taken action to inhibit criminal activities, such as human and drug- trafficking, related to Afghans' forced migration. In addition, through cooperation with the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), the Iranian government has launched efforts to improve health conditions within the refugee community.

See RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 10, No. 187, Part III, 11 October 2006, here.

New Iraqi consitution neglects women's rights

The systematic erosion of Iraqi women’s rights is apparent in the new constitution, which supersedes considerable advances for women’s equality in areas such as divorce and inheritance stipulated in the 1958 Family Code, the Observer reported. Instead, clerics and new religious courts take precedence in deciding such matters resulting in significant discrimination against women.

The new constitution is symptomatic of wider transformations taking place in a once secular society in which women “held high office and worked as professors, doctors, engineers and economists- into one where women have forced back under the veil and into the home”, the Observer reports. Women’s full status as citizens has deteriorated as their bodies are used as weapons in the sectarian war. Women are beaten, raped, and murdered in order to tear apart families and communities from the opposite sect.

In the absence of an established rule of law to guarantee women’s rights, there has been a revitalization of fundamentalist beliefs and practices. Women are forced to submit to the authority of radical militias, which forbid them from working, pursuing their education and taking part in public life in general. Those women who refuse to comply are punished by kidnappings, beatings, rape and murder. Witnesses claim that members of the militias are often linked to police forces, and the sheer level of violence makes the constant danger to women’s lives undeniable. However, public officials have yet to take measures to stop brutalities against women, in many cases, impeding investigation into these crimes and withholding information.

For full story, click here.