Human Rights and Fight against Corruption

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) held the Conference on “Human Rights and Fight against Corruption” on Wednesday, 8 November, 2017. At this Conference, in addition to the leadership of the AIHRC, a number of government officials and ambassadors from the countries supporting Afghanistan also participated. At the Conference, it was emphasized that, as long as corruption is not eliminated in the country, the increase in the security forces will not help security, and billions dollars of financial aid of the world countries cannot bring improvement and progress in the country.

The conference was held at the AIHRC headquarters in which representatives of civil society, media and justice and judicial institutions participated.

At the beginning of the Conference, Dr. Sima Samar, said that human rights values are universal, regardless of color, gender, ethnicity, language and geography. She emphasized that peace, stability and sustainable development can be possible in a country and a society where human rights are being realized. On the other hand, in the societies and countries where human rights values are not respected, there is no peace and stability, and the development process is also problematic.

The abuse by authorities and officials in the governmental and non-governmental institutions for their private and own benefits is also a form of corruption that according to the Chairperson of the AIHRC, violates the human rights of citizens of a country.

The honesty of government officials and non-state actors were another issue that Dr. Samar pointed out and said, when honesty does not exist, officials and authorities are trying to abuse their positions and take advantage of their position for their own interests, which is itself is a corruption.

The Chairperson of the AIHRC, referring to countries where human rights are violated, said that these countries are suffering from corruption. If corruption occurs, people are deprived of their human rights. Dr. Samar said: “Corruption is a violation of human rights and there is no doubt about it.”

Dr. Samar while pointing out the practical and unpleasant consequences of corruption on society and future generations said: “When a person obtains a college diploma against money and by the mediator, the result is that the engineer, doctor or teacher fails to work professionally; the patients are not being treated properly,” so the right to health, and economic rights of citizens is violated. Corruption in education and higher education also causes engineers to work unprofessionally; in such a case (for example) collapsing of a building deprives people of their right to life.

Referring to the ratification and approval of the law of demonstrations and gatherings, the Chairman of the Independent Human Rights Commission said that this law restricts the human rights of citizens, because the government is not capable of ensuring the security of the Demonstrations and, as a result, people lose their trust on the government. Dr. Samar added that ensuring human rights is the main duty of governments: “Human rights implementation is an unconditional duty of governments”. The government is empowered when to employ capable, competent and expert people. In such a case, the human right of the people will also be ensured. ”

Corruption is the cause of war:

According to the Chairperson of the AIHRC, corruption is the cause of misery, war, insecurity, and distrust of people in government institutions and damages in the process of democracy. “If competent and honest people, based on their ability and meritocracy, take the responsibility for democratic institutions, we will trust the elections,” she added. Otherwise the election itself provides grounds for corruption, fraud and insecurity.

The Chairperson of the AIHRC stressed on the fight against corruption in the judiciary organs, and said that if people are to be governed by the rule of law and justice, which is the basic right of man, the trust of the people in these institutions should be restored. Referring to people’s complaints about the non-implementation of justice, she said, when people say “the law is only applied to poor people,” it is true because they see that they are not treating equally and fairly with everyone.

Referring to the SDGs, Dr. Samar emphasized that meeting these goals has a direct relationship with human rights and the fight against corruption. She stressed that the fight against corruption is not possible until a culture of impunity exists. The government must also have a serious political will to fight corruption. “One entity cannot fight corruption alone, and this is not possible,” said Samar. Fighting corruption is a long-term task, and all institutions, including the people, must contribute to it. ”

Consequences of Corruption

Dr. Gholam Haidar Allama, Deputy Attorney General’s Office, spoke at the Conference emphasized on national and international anti-corruption mechanisms and stressed that corruption has serious consequences for the human rights of citizens of a country. He added that corruption and financial fraud is one of the crimes against human rights. Mr. Allama added that in the international arena, after the corruption became widespread in the countries, the United Nations felt responsible and started taking action concerning the fight against corruption. Among these was the adoption of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Crimes and Organized Crime that could have a negative impact on the international community beyond the borders.

Mr. Allama said that in 2003 the United Nations passed the Convention on Combating Bribery and Corruption. The convention specifically deals with corruption and called on the countries to criminalize corruption in their own country, and take on appropriate politically motivated measures to fight corruption.

Deputy Attorney General added that the Afghan government also approved at least two laws to fight corruption, and certain offices are working in this regard. He said, corruption has very dangerous and harmful consequences, because it hurts confidence in the government and discredit democracy.

According to Mr. Allama, in the corrupt countries, the government and the parliament are exposed to corruption by the mafia and criminal groups and transparency comes under question. He stressed that power in the corrupt countries would not be passed on to the market, because corrupt mafia groups would fill the entire market with counterfeit goods in their favor. He said that in corrupt countries, the power of government is not transferred to the administration either, because corrupt circles recruit individuals and turn the offices into their own interest and will.

Danish Ambassador, Mr. Jakob Brix Tange said that corruption undermines the organizational administration and cause unequal division of power and opportunities in the community. He said the Danish Dmbassy is supporting anti-corruption mechanisms in Afghanistan, and its tolerance for corruption is zero. Denmark’s Ambassador emphasized that combating corruption need involvement of strong institutions, civil society organizations, media and investigative journalists should cooperate in this regard.

Danish Ambassador added that the complete elimination of corruption is impossible, as he pointed out to the country of Denmark, saying that while the country is on the top list of transparency and anti-corruption benchmark of transparent countries, but there is still a relatively low degree of corruption in Denmark.

Mr. Tange added that corruption affects social transactions, and that social relations become fragile and then insecure. He stressed that corruption is a major obstacle to nation-building. The ambassador said the embassy supports anti-corruption programs and institutions in various areas in Afghanistan. This country, along with supporting the government anti-corruption institutions, also supports civil institutions to increase their capacity to fight corruption.

Mr. Tange said that the Danish Embassy has been supporting the fight against corruption since 2010. A recent anti-corruption strategy developed by the Afghan government is an important step in fighting corruption. He added that the Danish Embassy sponsors a program at the American University of Afghanistan, which will boost the capacity of young people and future generations in Afghanistan, especially in the area of effective administration and fight against corruption.

The Danish Ambassador emphasized that bottom-up struggle against corruption is crucial. He added, it would be very important, if people and civil society participate in the fight against corruption and constantly criticize corruption. Mr Tange said that the people should talk and criticize the government in this regard so that those involved with corruption would be identified.

In the afternoon panel, AIHRC’s Commissioners spoke on the fight against corruption. The conference continued with panels and group work until 4pm.

Dear American misogynists: Afghan women are not oppressed for you

By Noorjahan Akbar

Today is the last day of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Every year, reading the powerful testimonies of woman who have overcome this most common form of violence inspires me and reminds me of how global inequality is.

For the past six years, I have had the privilege of speaking at American universities and private schools about my experiences working on and writing about human rights issues in my homeland of Afghanistan. One of the most common responses Americans have to my speeches and to my articles is a dismissal of women’s rights advocacy in the United States by comparing the atrocities women face in Afghanistan to the “lesser” oppressions “overzealous” feminists are fighting in their own country.

The marginalization of women in Afghanistan is also propped up as a tool through which Americans can rationalize the unjust status quo at home. These men, and sometimes women, tell me about how disappointed they are in American feminists who are “complaining about cat-calls while Afghan women are being butchered by backwards Afghan men.”

This is a response to those who pretend to sympathize with Afghan- and by extension Muslim and Middle Eastern- women while attacking women’s rights activists in their own backyard.

Perhaps my biggest opposition to this sentiment is that it portrays Afghan women as victims in need of saving. Anybody who has worked with Afghan women at the grassroots level knows that we are not victims. It is no news that the women of my country face an enormous amount of oppression because of radical Islamists, gender-based violence, on-going war and insecurity, poverty, illiteracy and a wide range of other problems. To assume, however, that we have no agency is a disservice to Afghan women.

I have seen Afghan women who have grown up in war in the most rural areas of the country with little to no opportunities for education, stand up for their rights in heroic ways. I learned this important lesson on the power of Afghan women myself when I was traveling in Badakhshan and Takhar a few years ago. I was researching women’s folkloric songs and realized that they were singing about and fighting gender-based violence and child marriage in a more effective and articulate way than many of the educated advocates I knew.

Afghan women are singing, writing, running businesses, getting degrees, teaching, learning, managing non-profit organizations, organizing protests and finding thousands of new ways to tell their stories- despite Daesh and the Taliban threatening them on a daily basis. That resilience and struggle does not a victim make.

Taj Bibi (not real name), 15, is a middle school student, 3rd grade teacher and pregnant with her first child. Despite being a child bride, her insistence on her right to education is an example of the multi-faceted identities of Afghan women.

But jumping to the support of “voiceless” Afghan women while telling American feminists to stop complaining about rape on college campuses is telling of an even bigger patriarchal mindset. Disguised in this sentiment is the notion that women deserve protection and support in so far as they remain “voiceless victims” to physically violent crimes. However, the moment they find the ability to speak up and demand equality- real equality that will dismantle all patriarchy, not just the most overtly violent patriarchy- their voices are no longer worth paying attention to.

In other words, if there is no need for a male savior but rather for male accountability, women’s voices are irrelevant.

Let’s also not overlook the racism hidden in assuming that Afghan women should be saved from Afghan men. In one instance after a speech I had given, someone suggested that we should bring all the women out of Afghanistan to America. As in, we should literally fly all Afghan women out of their country in order to protect them from the men. When Americans tell me about how sad they feel about the “poor Afghan women” who are violated by their fathers and brothers, they are also telling me that the more civilized American men would never treat women like those savages in Afghanistan.

Gender-based violence is a global issue, not one specific to brown women. The United States has some of the highest rates of sexual violence anddomestic abuse in the world. Every day, three American woman are killed by an intimate partner. The war on women certainly has more American casualties than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I do not pretend that American women and Afghan women have the same problems or face oppression to the same degree. But we shouldn’t be comparing a country that has little to no infrastructure and has endured fifty years of trauma and war to one that has maintained peace on its own soil since 1865. Afghan women face a much higher rate of violence than women in America and most other countries. That is why I do what I do. However assuming that gender-based violence is somehow inherent or pathological in Afghan men, and not a problem in the U.S., is racist.

Another reason I can no longer silently tolerate the misuse of my oppression as a means to dismiss American women’s rights advocates is that women’s oppression is global. During my speeches I often use the metaphor that patriarchy is the same monster everywhere, but it has different faces. The root essence of patriarchy- to take away power from women, to own and exploit women’s bodies, to diminish women’s contribution to society- are the same in nearly every context, but the symptoms are different.

Whether we are forcing girls into marriage in Afghanistan or blaming women for getting raped in the U.S., the message we are sending is this: Women’s bodies do not belong to themselves. Women do not get to choose what to do with their bodies or where to exist. This is why women who say “no” to their solicitors are punished both in the U.S. and in Afghanistan. The moment women take ownership of their bodies, they are seen as criminals.

Not only are the roots of patriarchy similar round the world, its enforcers are often cut from the same cloth.

Enter the global misogynists’ brotherhood. I have advocated for ending sexual harassment and assault in Afghanistan and in the U.S. In both contexts, people blame women for dressing “improperly” and causing rape and harassment. Apparently, women’s bodies are provocative whether they are covered in burqas in Afghanistan or skirts in America. In both contexts, and around the world, women are held responsible for the lack of morality among men.

In both countries, I have heard people say that if women did not go to certain places, act a certain way or appear in public at certain times, they would be safer.

The same Afghan men who opposed the killing of Farkhunda, argued that if women were dressing properly in Afghanistan and not provoking men, this crime would have been prevented. Misogynists on my American college campus, where I joined protests to change our school’s policies on sexual assault, also argued that if women dressed more modestly they would not be raped. It is curious then that when women are dressed “properly” and staying at home being “proper” wives, they are still murdered and raped by their husbands, both in America and in Afghanistan.

Once again, the violence committed against their bodies and souls is justified using the same arguments. It is enraging that I have heard the sentence “she must have done something” more often than I have heard the sentence “he shouldn’t have killed her.” This should enrage you too.

Not only do misogynists in both contexts use the same excuses to protect their status in society, they also use each other to defend their own behavior. I run a blog for gender equality and social justice in Afghanistan. Nearly every time I publish an article about gender-based violence or other forms of abuse women face, I receive comments about how Afghan women should be thankful because they are treated with more respect and dignity than Western women “who are objectified and exploited as sex toys.”

The men who write these comments point to the sexualization of women in Western media and pornography or to the hideous TV characters who perpetuate this sexualization. They remind me of all the things I should thank them for and tell me, “Well, we might hit our wives when they get out of line, but at least we don’t treat them like sexual objects and dress them in bikinis for men’s pleasure.” The truth is that hitting women and selling them in marriage is as objectifying- if not more so- as using their bodies in humiliating TV commercials to sell products. In addition, Afghans who watch American pornography- and they do- are as impacted by its misogyny as Americans.

On the other hand, American women who write about sexual violence and street harassment are told, “you call our compliments harassment, but hey, at least, you are not getting stoned to death like those Afghani women.” In both situations, the issues women face are belittled and women are told that their demands for safety- which is the least they deserve- are bogus.

In these arguments, misogynists on both sides help each other maintain control. The only losers are women and girls whose bodies and souls continue to be exploited, abused, trafficked, sold, and disrespected.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not imagine that there is a global sisterhood. There is no united feminist movement where brown, black, white and all other women are speaking out with each other with mutual respect and understanding to fight all forms of oppression. I am as quick to critique privileged feminism as I am misogyny. There is a lot to criticize when many privileged feminists spend more time writing about Miley Cyrus than about the fact that women of color in prisons do not have access to pads and tampons and Native American women do not have equal legal protection against sexual violence. I realize that in the fight for racial, economic, and gender equality my other sisters of color and I often stand marginalized and alone.

Privileged- most often but not always, white- feminists, will cheer for us when we speak about misogyny, but silence us when we explore its intersections with race and global inequality. This is not news to me. However my allies are not the misogynists who discredit those feminists who speak against sexual violence, street harassment or any of the other real injustices women face.

To American misogynists, I say: my oppression, as a woman of color from the global south, is not a weapon to hide your misogyny. The fact that the Taliban kill women for speaking up in Afghanistan, does not diminishyour threats to kill American women who are talking about inequality in STEM. The fact that some 80 percent of Afghan women face violence at home does not make the sexist hateful murders by Elliot Roger dismissible. In fact, your reasoning is too familiar to me. You justifying the Reddit sex crime, euphemistically misnamed “the fappening,” is the same as Afghan misogynists fabricating pornographic photos of my family members to silence my activism.

Yes, I want the world to care about Afghan women. But Americans’ concern should not come at the expense of seeing us as voiceless, agentless victims in need of rescuing, nor through a lens that sees Afghan men as savages and American men as heroes. Gender-based violence is global.

Ashraf Ghani is part of our shame!

Full video interview is here at DW.DE News 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says women’s rights are a priority commitment. But how is he planning on ensuring them and how will he fight corruption, security threats and human rights violations in his country?

2015 has been a tough year for Afghanistan. In the first eight months alone, the country saw a spike in the number of civilian casualties and 120,000 Afghans fleeing the country to seek asylum abroad,accordingto the United Nations.

In an exclusive interview with DW, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani described the year of 2015 as “one of the most difficult years, if not even the most difficult year of the last 15 years.”

When asked if things could get worse, the president said it depends on how much regional cooperation Afghanistan could achieve. Ghani said cooperation with neighboring Paksitan was also crucial.

“Sovereignty of Afghanistan must be accepted categorically by Pakistan so that we can move forward.”

Women’s rights a top priority

According to Ghani, women’s rights are a top priority for him. “As long as I am president, the rights of women will be protected,” he said.

When confronted with a photograph published by Human Rights Watch showing a 22-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced to 100 lashes after being accused of sex outside marriage, Ghani held up the photo and said:

“This is part of our shame. We have inherited situations that are shameful, that are absolutely despicable.”

Government-affiliated militia groups violate human rights

Abuse of women isn’t the only problem Afghanistan is facing. According to a report by the United Nations from August 2015, local and national militia groups carried out deliberate killings, assaults, extortion, intimidation and property theft with the backing of the government.

But Ghani rejected these accusations in the interview, saying: “We don’t have militias.”

The 65-year-old president, who assumed office in September 2014, then admitted that local police behaved like militias prior to his inauguration, saying the government has “taken systematic measures” to deal with the issue and to remove the powerful political protection these groups have had in the first six months of 2015.

Ashraf Ghani im Interview für DW
It’s part of our shame !

“This is our shame,” Ghani said, holding up a picture of an Afghan woman being lashed

“We’ve had a difficult legacy of 40 years, and cleaning up is not going to be a one day job. But we are engaged in a systematic effort, we have not allowed formation of new militia groups, and we are reforming the local police systematically so that there won’t be abuse,” Ghani said.

Dealing with impunity and corruption

Reforming local police also means dealing with corruption, Ghani added in the interview.

“The Kabul Bank case that became the emblem of impunity has been dealt with. We’ve already collected 450 million dollars out of the 800 million dollars that was stolen from the public purse.”

But just one month ago, the former CEO of Kabul Bank, Khalilullah Frozi, who was supposed to be serving a 15 years sentence for fraud, was released from prison and seen smiling with government officials.

Ghani said he was shocked to see the man free. “My shock didn’t turn into anger, but into action. And it sent a very strong signal that I will not tolerate it. (…) He’s back in prison, in solitary confinement and under close attention.”

Ashraf Ghani im Interview für DW“We’ve had a difficult legacy for 40 years and cleaning up is not going to be a one day job,” Ghani told Tim Sebastian

Afghanistan’s president added that he’s also dismissed the officials that were involved in the scandal and has ordered a full inquiry to deal with the case.

Economic instability and global threats

Since Ghani was elected, polls show many Afghans losing confidence in where their country is headed. According to a poll conducted by the Asia Foundation, 54 percent of those surveyed in 2014 thought the country was going in the right direction. This year that figure dropped to just 36 percent.

Ghani explains this loss of confidence from his people with the economic challenges Afghanistan is facing.

“We’ve had to deal with an economic transition cost by the departure of over 600,000 troops and contractors that were the most important consumers and spenders in the country. We’ve had to impose an austerity program because the promises of the Afghan government to the national community were not credible.”

Urging Afghanistan’s elite to make the most of opportunities at home

What doesn’t help Afghanistan’s economy is the fact that the families of elite leaders often live abroad, such as the families of Ghani’s vice presidents, who live in Turkey and Iran, and the family of Ghani’s chief executive, who lives in India. In fact, the families of the top cabinet ministers, presidential advisers and deputy ministers all live outside of the country.

In the interview with DW, Ghani urged Afghanistan’s elite to make the most of opportunities at home rather than moving abroad.

Österreich Flüchtlinge bei Mistlberg an der Grenze zu DeutschlandAccording to German authorities, some 31,000 Afghans arrived this year through October

“The privileged elites are part of the globalization moment that we live in. What is significant is to create opportunities for the generations to come. If the families of the privileged live abroad they are not going to have careers abroad. Their careers are back in Afghanistan. (…) If they live abroad they become dishwashers. They don’t become part of the middle class.”

Ghani himself, however, did rather well when living abroad in the United States, completing a doctorate in anthropology and becoming a professor at Johns Hopkins University before returning to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.

Confronted with this fact, Ghani said: “The minute opportunity was created in 2001 I returned. I hope that the new generation of our friends will have the same sense of patriotism and respond to the conditions of our country.”

The president said he was hopeful the Afghan people would succeed in dealing with the numerous issues the country is facing.

“We are a free society, we engage in debate, and that is our characteristic.” Ghani said. “Our job is to heal and to move forward. Not to perpetuate, not to get poked down.”

Taliban Stone Woman To Death In Afghanistan

On August 31, a young man and woman found guilty of adultery were lashed publicly.

RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan has obtained video footage from an eyewitness that appears to show the brutal stoning last week of a 19-year-old Afghan woman in the central province of Ghor.

The two-minute clip shows a group of men throwing stones with increasing intensity at a covered individual crammed in a hole in the ground. A crowd of onlookers are seen capturing the incident on their mobile phones and a woman’s pitiful cries can plainly be heard.

Local official Mohammad Zaman Azimi, in a previous report, blamed Taliban militants for the execution.

Azimi said the woman, identified as 19-year-old Rokhshana, was stoned to death after being accused of having premarital sex with her fiance, a 23-year-old man named Mohammad Gul, who was reportedly lashed.

It was unclear why the young woman would have received a more severe punishment, although Taliban and religious courts in the past have been more lenient toward men.

Azimi added that the stoning took place in the village of Ghalmin on the outskirts of Firoz Koh, the provincial capital.

The couple allegedly had fled their families in a bid to find a place to be married.

Unmarried girls in Afghanistan are often restricted to their homes and banned from having contact with men outside their immediate families.

Brutal punishments often await Afghan women and girls who break the social norm.

Death by stoning for convicted adulterers is banned under Afghan law, although offenders face long prison terms. The penal code, originating in 1976, makes no provision for the use of stoning.

Afghanistan’s Constitution prescribes that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam” and sometimes appears at odds with more liberal and democratic elements within it.

Capital punishment was widely practiced by the Taliban regime, which ruled much of the country from 1996-2001, when convicted adulterers were routinely shot or stoned in executions conducted in front of large crowds.

In rural areas, where Taliban militants exert considerable influence, some Afghans still turn to Taliban courts for settling disputes, as many view government bodies as corrupt or unreliable. The Taliban courts employ strict interpretations of Shari’a law, which prescribes punishments such as stoning and executions.

In many Taliban-controlled areas, men or women found guilty of having a relationship outside marriage or an extramarital affair are sentenced to death, or in other cases publicly flogged.

Afghan officials often blame the Taliban for such punishments.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, there have been sporadic reports of stonings.

In 2012, a 22-year-old woman was shot dead for alleged adultery in Parwan Province, just north of the capital, Kabul. Later the same year, a 16-year-old girl in the western city of Herat was flogged and then killed along with her alleged boyfriend.

Afghanistan is an Islamic country and Ghor is one of the provinces of Afghanistan, and we cannot disobey what the law of Islam and our constitution says.”

In 2013, there was a government proposal to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery. But the government backed away from the proposal after international condemnation.

The abandoned legislation had set the punishment for extramarital sex between unmarried individuals at 100 lashes; sex outside marriage was punished by stoning to death if the adulterer or adulteress was married.

Masooma Anwari, the head of women’s affairs in Ghor, expressed grave concern over the situation of women in the province.

She said the “incompetence” of the local authorities in governance and security has paved the way for such incidents.

The stoning is just the most recent in a string of public punishments in Ghor that have sparked outrage.

On August 31, a young man and woman found guilty of adultery were lashed publicly.

Sima Joyenda, Ghor’s embattled female governor, came under criticismfrom rights activists at home and abroad for supporting the sentence. Joyenda, who is under pressure to resign, added that the sentence, which was carried out based on the ruling of a primary court, was in keeping with the law.

“Afghanistan is an Islamic country and Ghor is one of the provinces of Afghanistan, and we cannot disobey what the law of Islam and our constitution says,” Ariana News quoted her as saying last month.

Ghor, a mountainous and remote province in the central highlands, is one of the poorest and most unstable areas in the country.

The provincial government’s power extends little beyond Firoz Koh. Dozens of illegal, armed groups run by former warlords and militia leaders are active in Ghor, a key transit route for arms and drugs, and the resulting clashes are seen to be the source of much of the violence in the province.

Frud Bezhan /

Dispatches: A Court-Sanctioned Lashing in Afghanistan

By Heather Barr Senior Researcher, Women’s Rights Division.

It’s a scene we associate with the Taliban. A woman covered head to toe in a flowing veil, huddled on the ground before a man in a turban. His right arm is raised, in motion, holding a lash, a second away from bringing it down on her. An audience of men – only men – sit in a circle around them. They have chairs – a nod to their comfort while they watch what may be intended as a cautionary lesson, or spectacle.

This is not the Taliban. This photo emerged on September 1, and reportedly shows the lashing of a woman named Zarmina, 22, who was arrested with a man named Ahmad, 21, several weeks ago in Afghanistan’s Ghor province. The two were accused of zina, or sex outside of marriage, which under Afghan law is a crime carrying a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison. The two were sentenced to 100 lashes each by a court – not a Taliban tribunal, not a convening of elders, but a formal court of law that is part of the same Afghan government that the international community has been working to strengthen and legitimize since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001. The punishment of lashing is illegal, as it is not authorized by law, but Afghan courts hand out corporal punishment with sufficient regularity that district judges have been known to keep a lash hanging in their office.

Expand : An Afghan judge hits a woman with a whip in front of a crowd in Ghor province, Afghanistan August 31, 2015.


Sex between two consenting adults should never be a crime. But even more horrifyingly, a conviction for zina in Afghanistan is often based on the shakiest of evidence. When I interviewed dozens of women and girls imprisoned for zina and reviewed their cases, I learned that judges hand down harsh sentences based on women having left the home without permission, having been alone in the presence of a man who is not a relative, on malicious statements from angry and abusive husbands and fathers, and on abusive “virginity exams” – vaginal examinations that are medically meaningless.

On September 5, donor governments will convene in Kabul for a “senior officials meeting” to agree on a road map for international aid to Afghanistan for the next four years. This photo should be one more reminder of the extent to which the Afghan government continues to violate human rights, especially those of women. Ahead of the conference, President Ashraf Ghani has negotiated hard with foreign donors to reduce the human rights expectations they will place on his government. Instead, donors need to be much tougher about keeping rights at the top of the agenda.

They owe it to all of Afghanistan’s Zarminas and Ahmads.

Source HRW

Human trafficking in Afghanistan

According to the 2015 annual Department of state report the most target group of human trafficking in Afghanistan are children who end up in carpet making and brick factories, domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, begging, transnational drug smuggling, and assistant truck driving within Afghanistan.

“The bottom line is that this is no time for complacency. Right now, across the globe, victims of human trafficking are daring to imagine the possibility of escape, the chance for a life without fear, and the opportunity to earn a living wage. I echo the words of President Obama and say to them: We hear you, and we will do all we can to make that dream come true. In recent decades, we have learned a great deal about how to break up human trafficking networks and help victims recover in safety and dignity. In years to come, we will apply those lessons relentlessly, and we will not rest until modern slavery is ended.” – John F. Kerry, Secretary of State


The reports mentioned that :”Some Afghan families knowingly sell their children into prostitution, including for bacha baazi
bachabazi—where men, sometimes including government officials and security forces, use young boys for social and sexual entertainment. Some law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges accept bribes from or use their relationships with perpetrators of bacha baazi to allow them to escape punishment”. Boys from Badakhshan, Takhar, Baghlan, Kunduz, and Balkh provinces in the north, as well as those traveling unaccompanied, are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

Reports indicated some government and security officials engaged in the practice of bacha baazi. The AIHRC’s report revealed the majority of those who engage in bacha baazi pay bribes to or have relationships with law enforcement, prosecutors, or judges that effectively exempt them from prosecution. Reports indicated some law enforcement officials facilitated trafficking and raped sex trafficking victims.

However, there was no progress reported toward fulfilling the goals of the action plan signed in January 2011 to combat the practice of bacha baazi by the Afghan National Security Forces.

Selling own children

Some Afghan families knowingly sell their children into prostitution, including for bacha baazi—where men, sometimes including government officials and security forces, use young boys for social and sexual entertainment.

Other families send their children to obtain employment through labor brokers and the children end up in forced labor. Opium-farming families sometimes sell their children to settle debts with opium traffickers.

Abuse of Afghans out of the country

Men, women, and children in Afghanistan often pay intermediaries to assist them in finding employment, primarily in Iran, Pakistan, India, Europe, or North America; some of these intermediaries force Afghan citizens into labor or prostitution after their arrival. Afghan women and girls are subjected to prostitution and domestic servitude primarily in Pakistan, Iran, and India. Afghan boys and men are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in agriculture and construction, primarily in Iran, Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, and the Gulf states. Some Afghan boys are found in sex trafficking in Greece after paying high fees to be smuggled into the country.

Afghan government 

The Government of Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. While victims of trafficking were routinely prosecuted and convicted as criminals for moral crimes, the government failed to hold the vast majority of traffickers criminally accountable for their offenses. Official complicity remained a serious problem and political will to combat the crime was low. Law enforcement and judicial officials continued to have a limited understanding of human trafficking, and the government did not develop or employ systematic procedures for the identification and referral of victims to protective services.

Edited by: Amazon Rezai

Read more: BBC 

Death penalty to a men who raped his daughter for 11 years

FDeathpanltyA Father who has nine children raped his own daughter for 11 years. Last year this father was arrested in urban area around Kabul city and his rape story was amplified in social media. The primary court sentenced him to death while he has 2 children from his raped daughter.

The primary court announced that all documents and evidences about the convict prove the mass of father.

Khatera, the daughter claims five-six time abortions.

“Many times he raped my in front of my other sisters. The family knew about father raping and arrest him with police assistance.

“According to evidences and documents and the 17th article of violence against women, the father was handled to a death penalty,” Sayed Ahmad, head of Kabul’s primary court said.

“I am happy of the court’s verdict, but I want the verdict to be implemented because if the court release him free, my live will be in danger,” Khatera said.

The civil society members who were present at the trial praised the primary court decision and called for his prosecution.

However, the suspected man who was arrested seven months ago due to his wife complaint denies all charges against him and insists that it is a conspiracy against him.

before several man received death penalty after they raped their own daughters.

Civil society is worried about this kind of violence against women inside the families and says if the government do not act seriously the number of violence will raise and it will change to a serious social problem.

Love crimes & violence against women in Afghanistan

Love crimes & violence against women in Afghanistan is a research by Amazon Rezai.



In this letter I am trying to figure out about the types of violence against women in Afghanistan. Finding an imagination on real women situation after 13 years of presents of international troops in the country, Afghan women gained a series of opportunities and challenges. In addition to the letter, a photo story, in power point format about common cases of violence happened and the Afghan feminist fights for women rights in Afghanistan will be attached. Traditions and religion affect on Afghan women lives and the history of feminism is the discussed.


Today, in all over Afghanistan women are practically ‘the first movers’. Some are the first female member in their family going to school, others to open a business or take public office. There is a tremendous awareness among Afghan women that they are trail-blazing for the next generation, for their daughters. As the first movers, women have changed the face of societies, while harsh cultural and social situations have encompassed them – wrong traditions, male-dominated environment and lack of legal support. From the other hand, international donations brought about women who act as agent changes, while, from the other hand, number of cases of violence against women are increasing. Considering the situations, the questions that might arouse is “Are women hopeful of changes? What was international community’s role for saving women right in Afghanistan?”

While, According to EU ambassador for Afghanistan, 87 percent of Afghan women have already experienced some form of violence, it is still one of the worst places for being a woman.

Afghan Human Rights in Afghanistan Organization

In 2013 I was awarded the global best blog Persian by “Deutsche welle”. Beside blogging in 2010 I got involved into the community and start social activities in Kabul.

As a human rights and social activist, I initiatively designed several Human Rights and Cultural Development campaigns to support women and minorities in the financial and technical aspects of public-donated mechanism.

As a social media activist I am proud of being the member of the “Paiwand” team, holding the first ever social media summit in Afghanistan in 2013.

To continue work for human rights, in Sweden, friends of mine and I have collected, processed and distributed news of human rights violations throughout the country using its pool of reporters.  News stories are published to inform the general public as well as various groups in Afghan and international activists abroad. We strive to provide moral and legal supports for the victims of human rights abuses by swaying public opinions inside the country while seeking help from the international community.

The facts about violence against women


Violence against women is one of the most serious human rights issues in

Afghanistan. Although important achievements have been made in different areas such as education, health and participation of women in civil and political spheres over last decade, deep-rooted cultural and social issues still exist against realization of and their freedom in many parts of our country. Violence against women is one of the serious violations

Types of violence against women in Afghanistan1

  1. Physical violence 26.7%


  1. a) Physical violence in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.

(b) Physical violence within the community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution, beating, kicking, slapping, hitting with stones, burring with boiling water, pulling out hair and poisoning, cutting of body members by using of knife and weapons.

*Beating women is a common form of violence, it is almost culturally accepted

  1. Sexual violence 7.7%


Sexual violence against women is committed in various forms such as sexual assaults, illegitimate sexual affair/ sodomy, sexual degradation and ill -treatment, forced prostitution, forced abortion and etc.

Sexual assault is considered a very serious and concerning sexual violence against women in Afghanistan.

Sexual violence against women has negative and painful social, cultural and economic impacts on women in Afghanistan. In spite of physical injuries, women who are victims of sexual violations face with other problems such as psychological problems, AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy.

Due to the nature of sexual issues as a taboo in Afghan traditional society, therefore, addressing of these problems has been considered odious in the society. In addition, this problem is related to a family or tribe’s honor and prestige. Therefore, its publication is prevented and usually kept as a secret.

  1. Verbal and psychological violence 24.3%

Humiliation, insults and threats are the common forms of such violence that could have a serious effect on the character and spirit of women and leave adverse consequences on social and personal life of them, and finally encounter them with discouragement, isolation, frustration, anxiety and stress, and even make them feel hatred against others. In this situation they would become more vulnerable against the challenges, constraints and difficulties of life. Evidences show that verbal and psychological violence can even lead to suicide, self-immolation and dangerous ganglia in women’s lives

Verbal and psychological violence against women can happen within the family and in the local community in the form of street harassment, and put women in a dangerous and difficult situation.

  1. Economic violence 21.5%


Lack of economic autonomy of women in a family environment and their dependency on their husband caused women in the family environment as well as at the social level enjoys a lower status compared to men. On the other hand this issue has caused women to

stay away from decision-making positions regarding family affairs. Their will has not been considered in decisions taken for the family affairs. Economic violence against women occurs in different forms and based on the traditions dominant in the societies of Afghanistan, it appears with all its intensity.


Lack of authority on the family expenditures is another form of economic violence. Deprivation from right to heritage also, Selling of precious properties specially jewelries, Prevention from work and employment of women includes, misappropriation of their salary and wages.

  1. Other forms of violence 19.9%

The right to education, right to marriage and right to have access to health facilities are the basic rights of individuals that still eligible women and children are deprived of these rights due to some reasons. Many eligible girls cannot go to school. A high percentage of mothers lose their lives while giving birth to their baby.

Unpleasant cultural patterns have paved the way for early marriages such as Bad and Exchange marriages which all are happening by force.

Lack of consideration of legal age for marriage are often originated from the dominating character of undesirable traditions and customs that has put children especially girls in a difficult situation and resulted in many negative consequences. Nowadays honor killings, ascending trend of divorce, unwilling and child marriages are the main factor for running away from home.

Denial of the right to education, exchange marriages, giving as Bad and deprivation from going outside of the home, right to choose spouse, forced marriages, heavy dowries, expulsion from home… are just a few examples of a rollback of women’s rights in recent years in Afghanistan even where revolutions and political transitions have been hailed in the West.[1]

Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women

One of Afghanistan’s important achievements in the last 10 years or so was the establishment of legal supports for human rights and in its national laws. The Afghan Constitution has emphasized on in several articles and has bound the government to make and carry out programs fruitful for women’ rights. Article 7 of the Constitution has urged the government to follow the international instruments and treaties that have been signed or ratified by it. But last year a landmark law to prevent violence against women was pushed out of parliament, the quota of seats for women on provincial councils was cut, and a proposal

to reintroduce stoning as a punishment for adultery – used more against women than men – put forward by the justice ministry.

But president Karzai rejected the law to parliament for changes.

It’s still unclear what the government might do to amend the law, but it points to two particular areas of concern.

The first is to clarify that relatives of a battered person will be allowed to give voluntary testimony, and the second is to restrict exemptions on testimony only to spouses, not all relatives. Even with those changes, this law will still cause significant damage to women who have experienced abuse and are seeking help from the justice system.

Undesirable traditions

Why do husbands, fathers, brothers-in-law, even mothers-in-law brutalize the women in their families? Are these violent acts the consequence of a traditional society suddenly, after years of isolation and so much war, being hurled into the 21st century? And which Afghans in this society are committing the violence? There are significant differences between the Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Pashtuns, the most populous and conservative group and the one that has dominated political life since the 1880s.

For example in the Pashtun crescent, from Farah Province in the west to Kunar in the northeast, life was—and in many ways still is—organized around the code known as Pashtunwali, the “way of the Pashtun.” The foundation of Pashtunwali is a man’s honor, judged by three possessions—zar (gold), zamin (land), and zan (women). The principles on which the honorable life is built are melmastia (hospitality), nanawati (shelter or asylum), and badal (justice or revenge). But in other ethnics such as Hazara and Tajiks, women have better situation they can participate in social and political issues, sing, study and work.

According to this sample and many other above named forms of Violence, it seems violence will remains a threat to women in Afghanistan, where horrible traditions appear as a powerful role in every aspect of women life.

Islamic Sharia

Tradition and religion are two effective phenomena affected afghan life, many injustices happen for women under the shelter of Islamic sharia.

Mullahs as effective persons and leaders in society, mostly in urban areas order and encourage daily violence such as beating, force and early marriage among the family as they say it is guidance of religion and needed for women to obey their husband or father.

Nowadays intellectuals advocate the separation of religion from politics. They believe it will decrease pressure on women, and decrease government competences to judge the violence cases.

Burqa & Freedom

Beside lack of education/literacy, lack of job opportunities, domestic violence, and forced marriage/dowry payments, new survey of Asia foundation shows that Afghan women are losing ground in the same area in compare of the past years.

Burqa is a very important Symbol that shows the degree of freedom in Afghanistan. Depends on existence of the number of women wearing long blue color cloths in the society, you can approximately measure the amount of violence against women, the degree of freedom of speech, literacy and even women political participation.

New generation who knows the Burqa as a symbol of violence against women, which separate the world of the person under it by around!

Mostly the families, who have a big control on the women and see the women as an instrument more than a human, use to order their women to wear burqa outside.

After Taliban regime women start practicing to ban burqa in society but as we are getting near to the exit time of foreign forces from the country, increasing using burqa in urban area shows the fear of people form another internal war. Burq was and is a helpful instrument for Taliban regime when they were rolling the country to show their power on controlling women and now for suicide bombing they (men) wear burqa and attacks to the goals.


Love marriages crimes

In Afghanistan, where people are very sensitive to the word of “love.” People do have feelings of love: they can be love fatherhood, motherhood, sisters and brothers; they can also love their children.

But if someone truly falls in love with a girl or a boy, Afghan traditionalists cannot tolerate it. Many women and men have lost their lives because of falling in love and wanting to marry their beloved. When the younger generation looks at the traditional Afghan attitude toward love, and then they fall in love with someone, they do not know what they should to do, marry, leave or run away of home…

A big campaign held by civil activist in 2013 in favor of a love marriage case happened in Bamian city, a boy belonged to Hazara ethnic fell in love with a Tajik girl and both run away of the home.

Government stopped and punished the boy but people support this couple by protesting and campaigns. They asked the world to help and save their love.

In past years it was a big step toward chooses freedom and positive change of young generation about LOVE marriage.


How do you evaluate Afghan women’s right in the recent years?

Generally, awareness of gender equality and women’s rights issues has been increased significantly in the past several years. And many issues, such as violence against women, and sexual violence in conflict, are now openly discussed in the society, covering by media and supporting by civil activists. In addition, women’s participation in the recent presidential election was significant and this fact can be considered as a positive factor in Afghan women’s rights despite all challenges Afghan women confront in the society.

Expansion and enhancement of civic activities in a positive, constructive and consistent way is a big achievement helpful for fighting against violence, as a social activist, I see how people around me are engaging to social activities after positive influence of social activist campaigns on changing governmental organization

High ability of educated women in implementation of democratic values using social Relativity good power of traditional and social media to create secure platforms for women rights activities in Afghanistan is also one of achievements I cannot ignore.

On the other hand, it’s been pessimistically a bad year for women’s right given the increasing number of violence against women in different provinces of the country. (Around 25%) Cutting off a woman’s nose by her husband in Daykundi, the safest city for women, is a typical example of lack of law enforcement in legal areas regarding women’s right in Afghanistan. Furthermore, an Afghan father’s rape to his own daughter leading to her pregnancy and even delivering and raising two children is a horrifying fact which also created a huge shock among Afghan people. And rejection of The Violence Against Women Act by the Afghan Parliament in 2013 shows relative deterioration of women’s right activities in some points in Afghanistan.

Challenges toward implementing women rights

  1. Lake of data and statistics in order to real number of accrued violence
  2. The low level of awareness among the people and lack of their knowledge about their basic rights
  3. Human rights and democracy fund-based activities cause superficial results leaving no focus on real challenges and infrastructure services on women right and democracy building.
  4. Government corruption in women rights and democracy transgressors trial, government has a vital role to provide social change; and promote social justice. It is thought of as a society that affords individuals and groups fair treatment and a just share of the benefits of society. Social justice often equated with the concepts of human rights and equality.
  5. Islamic sharia as source of violence
  6. Lake of strong official voice to counter that reactionary voice, We need strong government policy


After 2001 fall of Taliban, there have been advances in protecting women’s rights, but a lot of them could not have altered women’s status in the society. Women really do not have a place to go if they’re being abused. That is, lack of access to judiciary institutions is a remarkable issue for women. There are women’s shelters, but they’re not universally accepted in Afghanistan, and they’re constantly under threat of attack or being closed down.

If a woman’s husband is beating her on a daily basis, she can’t just ask for a divorce. It’s not acceptable in the society. And if she does ask for a divorce, often her family will kill her because it brings shame to her family or she’ll be put in prison. I’ve met dozens of women in prison who’ve done nothing more than try to ask for a divorce. The international community is going to be pulling out Afghanistan, and Afghans need to make decisions for themselves. If these are the decisions they’re making, it’s pretty terrifying. It’s a very scary future for women in Afghanistan.

There is a need for continued monitoring, service delivery, and condemnation of all forms of violence against women and girls in Afghanistan—and around the world. The litmus test of Afghanistan’s transition and development will be the extent to which women’s and girls’ rights are recognized, protected, and realized.

Under the Taliban, women were confined to their homes. They were not allowed to work or attend school. They were poor and without rights. They had no access to clean water or medical care, and they were forced into marriages, often as children.

Today, women in the vast majority of Afghanistan live in precisely the same conditions, with one notable difference: they are surrounded by war. The conflict outside their doorsteps endangers their lives and those of their families. It does not bring them rights in the household or in public, and it confines them even further to the prison of their own homes. Military escalation is just going to bring more tragedy to the women of Afghanistan.


A new breed of warlord, force marriage treats

by Ms. Khoda Bakhsh

In the twilight that passes for reality in Afghanistan, the story of Hakim Shujoyi does not add up neatly – but there’s enough in its different parts to suggest that a monster is stalking the eastern flank of Oruzgan province.


Hakim Shujai

Personal detail is opaque, but not the contradictions from which Shujai draws inordinate power in Khas Oruzgan, a wild and mountainous swath of the province in which the Kabul government is yet to assert its authority beyond the confines of the Khas Oruzgan bazaar.

“He’s a cruel killer as people speaks about, but he has big support behind him,” As a minority Hazara, Shujai ordinarily might be expected to step gingerly around the majority Pashtuns, but a reputation as a fearless “Taliban hunter” has earned enough US military protection for him to cast himself as a new warlord – even as the Americans were backing him into the leadership of a new grassroots community protection service, the Afghan Local Police or ALP.

Shielding him from official pursuit and prosecution are fellow Hazaras who hold senior positions in the Karzai government – in particular vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili and now the time has changed with his inordinate power.

“He takes revenge on village farmers and the like. Elders and other prominent people are safe from him, so it’s the lowly and the innocent who he makes pay the price,” says a local observer, as he explains that Shujoyi’s collective punishment of villages for the real or imagined wrongdoings of individuals perpetuate cyclical violence.

Retaliatory attacks by Pashtuns include a massacre in which 11 Hazaras were beheaded, all by the hand of the brother of a man who died in an assault on his village by Shujai ‘s men. The Pashtun man who did the mass beheadings used a knife which, several sources say, he had recovered from a gaping wound in his brother’s throat after the initial Shujai’s  attack.

A former chief of police in Oruzgan, Juma Gul Heimat, explains that he arrested Shujai on the orders of President Hamid Karzai. “We flew by US aircraft to pick him up and the Americans held him for about a week as we started an investigation, but then he disappeared from custody,” Juma Gul says.

“His people do a lot of bad things – they rape and loot in the name of the Hazara. Hundreds of people die in disputes between the Hazara and the Pashtuns. But the problem is, thousands would be dying if the American Special forces were not there.”

Even prominent Hazara figures are wary of Shujai . Recently we got case that Shujai has been treated sister of an Afghan journalist and human rights activist for force marriage, we can’t write name of the victim who been treated and his brother’s name particularly one who is a known journalist and media activist. 

Such cases are happening every single day in Afghanistan, with in Hazara community and other parts of the country such north and west Afghanistan.

As we had discussion with Afghan Journalist about her sister case, Shujai is still a warlord with much power to use for his empire but let’s not count on week government who create space for such inhuman warlords to use it’s own play.

Perception becomes reality in a region in which tit-for-tat hostage-taking is common enough between Pashtuns and Hazaras, distrustful of each other after decades of reciprocal abuse. Repeated US denials of support or protection for Shujai count for little because of what the people claim to see and hear.

Recently, a 40-man delegation went to Kabul to complain, delivering photographic evidence of what purportedly were the breast wounds suffered by several women.

Afghanistan is suffering from rampant violence, as a result of sectarian and ethnic strife, which is gradually increasing as the time line of NATO forces withdrawal is ending.  This would rapidly exacerbate, if no international peacekeeping force stays in the conflict ridden areas, and will hamper all the gains achieved up till now.

The withdrawal of international forces from conflict-ridden areas is subject to the availability of efficient replacement for the administration of security matters.  Unfortunately, the Afghanistan army is not capable enough to protect Afghanistan at this stage. The rising defections trend in Afghanistan army speaks for itself. These soldiers eventually regroup with Taliban, and attack on foreign forces.

The reasons for increasing defections are due to professional incompetence of Afghanistan National Army, corruption within army ranks, inferior quality of arms and ammunitions et cetera. There are chances that ANA future operations will completely halt, due to absence of operational support from foreign forces.

Afghan Journalist and human rights activist who lives now in Sweden, he has allot to tell about such cases and according to the ethnic information he is also from Hazara community and from the same district of Ghazni province that Shujai has made his own empire.


He is welling to share story of her sister but he is much worry about his mother who she is still around.

At the end, the women rights issue will rekindle once again. Women in Afghanistan have suffered tremendously since the last three decades. Since the invasion of Afghanistan, these incidents have diminished due to law and order apparatus, but still there emerge cases of domestic abuse, force marriages and burning alive like a mob of male attackers viciously attacked 27-year-old Farkhunda. They beat her, set her body ablaze, and tossed her into the shallow waters of Kabul river on March 19, 

A former woman law maker Ms Atmar was divorced by her husband and shunned by family, after she helped pass the landmark legislation for the protection of women. Mr. Atmar is now Afghan National Security Adviser for Ashraf Ghani’s government. 

Relations between law and violence against women, need for an action!


Farkhonda was killed in the capital, Kabul, the event once again Showed that women still do not have security in Afghanistan. Government is obliged to prevent these disorders of legal, cultural, Social and religious causes and do not let such similar events happen in the future.

No doubt that attack on Farkhonda is not the first attack, nor will be the last of this kind, and it is clear to everyone such incidents occurring daily in the country, mostly because the beliefs and traditions of the tribes is not realistic.

All responses about Farkhonda murder were questionable and society even government reacts to the supporters and defenders of her death. In this article I will try to give an answer to these questions and that these events needs to get a new check.

Alarm for all

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission said that the last seven months of the year 1393 Hijri, the violence against women in Afghanistan is reached 2950 figure shows that violence against women has increased 25 times compared to previous years. The figure recorded in the office of the commission, but many cases of violence against women occurs away from human rights organizations and the media and the victim is buried in the heart.

Many girls are murdered after being raped and many of the perpetrators of the rape and violence against women are the family and relatives. The basic question is that Afghan judicial system which is corrupt, has addressed some of this violence? And do justices to the relatives of the victim have been given?

In some cities and most villages in Afghanistan women because of misconceptions and misinterpretations of religious culture are kept away from the public, they do not have go out of the house or the right to participate in meetings and public meetings.

Due to the oppressive conditions, violence against women is increasing, and this has caused women do not trust even their family members and close relatives.

What happened in the “shah du Shamshyrah” was that perpetrators of violent against Farkhonda unintentionally, film and video tapes is taken by friends and their accomplices. If I held court in this case, without a doubt the movie would be used against the perpetrators of the incident.

The result of a murder

Violence against women are still not ruling even in Afghanistan law. This cause increasing violence against thousands of women, but Farkhonda murder distinct two issues:

First Afghan society, particularly institutions of civil society have reached to a level of awakening and it brought the hope that social and religious norms can be criticism,second, for the first time in Afghanistan, a close traditional country, this incident initiated the resistance power against wrong religious believes. 

No need for thinking

“Shah du Shamshyrah” (mosque) incident showed that it is the time to change the view about religion and ask people know what they do not know about religion. A general look shows that we are standing in first years of Islam with no improvement.  the time that people used to sacrificed everything to get near to God, even God.

Many of the prophets came to invite people to worship with the message of “religion is part of life, not all of life”

We are still at the beginning of the Islamic religious texts and beliefs, with respect to the development of science nowadays, we are still arguing if a woman can go out without his husband permission or not.

The nature and extent of violence in laws

Aggression and violence in history was sentenced, without a doubt, the Afghan government also rejected this phenomena, but how much the government,scholars, legislators have been agreed to prevent this phenomena ?

It must not be forgotten that the government always has the upper hand to control society. If we look at the issue of violence, according to figures undoubtedly negative response to the question.

Social violence is caused of two factors, the absence of law, and violent and despotic law.

A – The lack of law: during the past fourteen years it became clear that some criminals and suspects of violence against women were acquitted because they did some kind of crime was supported in order the other law.

An obvious example of this can be mass rape of women in Kabul’s Paghman, there criminal were sentenced in accordance of kidnapping and armed robbery law in Afghan constitution but their real guilt, mass rape of women in front of their husbands were ignored.

(B) the violent and despotic law: some criminal case base on Islamic law happens that not only crimes are not considered, but also the criminal is a good religious person.


In addition, some violence against women and criminals scape of law reasons is as follows:

(A) false reading of religion, traditional beliefs. women’s rights support organizations believe that the violence in the metropolis where they have more access to information and the media decreased but in rural and remote areas, this phenomenon has been raising.

(B) Administrative corruption in the legal system that acquits criminals, international research shows that Afghan judicial system is the most corrupt institution known. to continue the process will damage general mental health and cause lack of trust to government.

(C) violent religious laws gives the perpetrators the sense of good believers in God that during recent years, in addition to the Taliban and other armed groups, especially in Shiite areas, this believers Issued sentence in order their religious believes.

(D) government has failed to apply the sentences against perpetrators of violence against women. many of the perpetrators of violence are living out of prisons because the law could not put them in prison.

(H )Most villages people address legal issues to the Taliban and this extremist terrorist group (Taliban), in all cases without investigating, sentence the death penalty, stoning, lashings against women.

By : Marziye Vafayi

Herat Afghanistan; Husband cut his wife’s virgin when refused to sell her daughte

zanIn western part of Afghanistan, Herat city, a husband cut his wife’s virgin when refused to sell her 40-daysbaby.

Tolo News repots that, 22 years old Rahima who is mother of three children was taken to Herat’s Gynecology and obstetric Hospital in injured condition, after her husband attacked her.

“My husband is addicted and I have tough life with him” Rahima said

Rahima Explained: “My husband took my two daughters out and send them to his sister’s house and when my father in law left the home, my husband locked me in a room and wounded me”

Maryam, the Rahima’s mother says: the Husband treated Rahima: “Now I will cut that part of your body, that you won’t be able to show it to the doctors or police and also, you won’t be able to marry again”

Doctor Fariba Baha, working in Heart Hospital said that Rahima was brought to the hospital in critical condition but now she is feeling better.

Abdul Qadir Rahim from the Human Rights Commission in Herat province while condemning the action asked government for punishment for the culprit.

Security officials are searching the culprit in suspected areas, according to Herat’s Headquarter Police officers told.

Jowzjan Afghanistan; gang raped eight months pregnant women

Local official of Jawzjan a north province of Afghanistan reported that; a pregnant 17 years woman, a policeman’s wife has been gang-raped by a group of five men on last Monday in Sheberghan city.

Provincial police chief Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani said: two individuals have been arrested in connection to the gang rape of this woman and are in police custody for further investigation.

The relatives of the victim have said that the men had initially tortured her and a number of her teeth are broken after she was beaten, her jewelries stolen by the rapists, who tied hands and feet of her father.

Jawzjan civil hospital director Dr. Mohammad Haroon Elbegi confirmed medical test showed the woman had been raped. He said the victim had signs of torture on her head.

The victim called on the relevant security and judiciary institutions to take an immediate action in trying the perpetrators and warned that she would commit suicide if the authorities remained reckless.

Provincial human rights commission head Maghfirat Samimi called the incident as “shocking” and asked security officials to arrest the perpetrators and punish them. “Not punishing rapists is the main cause of increasing sexual assaults,” she added.

Deputy Governor Abdur Rahman Mahmodi said two of the suspects had been arrested and efforts to capture the rest were underway.

This kind of incidents involving rape of women and children has been rampant across the country specifically in Northern provinces.

At least four rape cases were reported in northern Jawzjan province last month, which also included an incident where a brother raped his teenager sister.

Karzai blocks law protecting perpetrators of domestic violence

Amnesty International commended President Hamid Karzai’s decision not to sign the draft Criminal Procedure Code, which would have denied justice to victims of rape, domestic violence and under-aged and forced marriage. The law was a threat to progress made on women’s human rights, and the President’s veto is welcome.

Afghan women take part in a demonstration to protest violence against women in Kabul

The draft code passed by the Afghan parliament last month included a new provision which would have prohibited relatives of the accused from testifying in criminal cases. With most cases of gender-based violence taking place in the family, this would have made successful prosecutions nearly impossible.
“This is an important step against retrograde legislation that would have let rapists and perpetrators of domestic violence off the hook,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.
“This draft code would have taken Afghanistan back decades in terms of discrimination of women and girls in the country. President Karzai has taken a crucial step by refusing to sign the amended code. Meanwhile he must ensure that victims of domestic violence, rape and other crimes have a viable path to justice, including by putting in place witness protection programmes.”
“Government officials and members of parliament must steer clear of any proposed law that undermines the human rights gains made by the Afghan people in recent years. This includes not enacting laws that discriminate against women.”
“Any amendments must only strengthen human rights protection and compliance with Afghanistan’s obligations under international law.”
In addition to removing blocks on the prosecution of rapists and other abusers, Amnesty International is calling on the Afghan authorities to take all necessary measures to fully and effectively implement the 2009 Elimination of Violence against Women law throughout the country.
The law criminalized some 20 acts of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, underage and forced marriages as well as exchange of girls in marriage as part of a dowry or blood price (“baad”). It has made great strides in recognizing a woman’s human right to be protected from violence and harmful practices.
Kubra Gohari/ BNA  

Afghanistan: Rights Setbacks Fan Future Fears

Afghan women wait to receive winter relief assistance donated by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in the outskirts of Kabul on February 3, 2013. © 2013 Reuters
Afghan women wait to receive winter relief assistance donated by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in the outskirts of Kabul on February 3, 2013. © 2013 Reuters

(Kabul) – Afghanistan’s human rights situation regressed in key areas in 2013, increasing uncertainty about the country’s future, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2014.Government policies on human rights were negatively affected by the end-2014 deadline for the withdrawal of international combat forces and the negotiations over US troop presence after 2014. Human rights concerns increasingly took center stage ahead of the planned April 2014 presidential election.

The Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai made a series of decisions in 2013 that undermined human rights, particularly those of women and girls, Human Rights Watch said. Taliban insurgents continued their campaign of targeted assassinations of government officials, including women. Security is of key concern in the run-up to the presidential election, having a particularly harmful effect on the participation of women who already have a severely limited role in Afghan political life.

“Afghan women are all too aware that international donors are walking away from Afghanistan,” saidBrad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Unfortunately, those who want to curtail women’s rights realize this too.”

In the 667-page World Report 2014, its 24th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. Syria’s widespread killings of civilians elicited horror but few steps by world leaders to stop it, Human Rights Watch said. A reinvigorated doctrine of “responsibility to protect” seems to have prevented some mass atrocities in Africa.  Majorities in power in Egypt and other countries have suppressed dissent and minority rights. And Edward Snowden’s revelations about US surveillance programs reverberated around the globe.

Afghan women are all too aware that international donors are walking away from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, those who want to curtail women’s rights realize this tooBrad Adams, Asia director HRW

Opponents of women’s rights took advantage of waning international interest in Afghanistan to begin rolling back the progress made since the end of Taliban rule in 2001, Human Rights Watch said. A May parliamentary debate on the groundbreaking Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW Law), passed by presidential decree in 2009, was halted after 15 minutes to block numerous lawmakers who were calling for the law’s repeal and speaking out against legal protections for women and girls. The law remains in place, but enforcement is weak.

100722-hrwA string of physical assaults in 2013 against high-profile women, including murders, highlighted the danger to activists and women in public life.

Human Rights Watch research documents declining security and respect for human rights in the country. Government security forces and other armed groups continue to commit abuses with impunity. Deteriorating local security and growing fears for the future contributed to increasing numbers of Afghans fleeing their homes for other parts of the country, other countries, or choosing not to return from overseas. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees documented an increase of more than 106,000 internally displaced people from January through June 2013, bringing the total to over 583,000. The main causes of displacement were armed conflict and diminished security.

“The severity of Afghanistan’s human rights crisis in 2013 demands urgent action by both the government and the country’s foreign donors,” Adams said. “The failure to make human rights a priority during the year of a presidential election, and the backlash resulting from diminished international attention and support, threaten much of the progress that has been achieved.”

Suicide vest nine-year-old tells her story

Spozhmai's father visited her to try to persuade her to come home
Spozhmai’s father visited her to try to persuade her to come home

A young girl was detained at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan wearing what officials said was a suicide vest. Spozhmai, who says she is nine years old, is now in the protective custody of the provincial government. This is her story in her own words.

It was late evening, the mullah was calling for prayers and my brother took me outside and told me to put on this vest. He showed me how to operate it, and I said: “I can’t – what if it doesn’t work?” And he said: ‘It will, don’t worry.’

I was scared and he took the vest back from me and he hit me hard, and I felt scared. Then [he gave me back the vest and] left me near the checkpoint where he said I had to operate it.

I realised it was a suicide vest because it was heavier than a normal one.

He said: “If you operate this on the people at the checkpoint, they will die – you will not die.” But I knew it was a suicide vest and I would die too. Then he went back home – the checkpoint is just near our house.

After my brother left me… I slept in the desert and didn’t see anyone that night.

In the morning, a guy from the checkpoint came and took me to the checkpoint and said: “You need to tell your story to our commander.” They found me, I didn’t find them.

When I told the commander my story he told me to go back home and I said: “No, they beat me there and I am no

t treated well.”

He said: “OK, well if you’re not going home then we have to take you to the provincial capital.” That’s when they brought me [to Lashkar Gah and] I spoke to another commander, the senior commander, and that’s how I come to be here.

Even if the government says it will guarantee my safety I am not going back – the same thing will happen again. They told me: “If you don’t do it this time, we will make you do it again.”

My father came here and told me to go back and I said: “No, I will kill myself rather than go with you.”

I don’t have a mother, I have a stepmother and she was not very nice to me.

I did everything at home. I cooked, I made bread, I washed clothes, I cleaned the whole house and they still weren’t happy – they would treat me badly, as if I was a slave.

I didn’t go to school because they didn’t let me. I can’t read a word, I can’t pronounce anything. It’s because I wasn’t taught – nobody taught me how… of course I want to go to school.

My brother told me: “You’re here in this world and you will die. You are not here to learn or to do other things or to expect that your word will carry any weight. You are here just to die and do your duty.”

Of course my Dad knew – they were all in it together. [This started with] my Dad first, and then my brothers were inclu

ded. They were all in it together.

I haven’t spoken to [my brother] since the incident – I haven’t seen him since.

I want the government to let me stay here and not make me go back, otherwise the same thing will happen to me again.

What can I say to [my family]? Even if I saw them again I would tell them: “I am not coming home. I am not coming with you.”

I have seven sisters and five brothers – three of my sisters are married and the others are little.


One of my brothers is in the Taliban so I have never seen him, one of my brothers is married, and another one – a younger one, is the one who told me to do this. I can’t tell his age but he’s a big boy and has a beard.

“Dozens of teenage boys who wanted to carry out suicide attacks have been arrested over the past few years, but Spozhmai is the first “would-be female child suicide bomber” in the country held in protective custody,” says Dawood Azami of the BBC World Service.


“Initially, it emerged she was arrested at night when the police heard her crying on the other side of the river where she says

she was forced to wear the vest. Then it was said she was arrested at home. But now, she says she spent the night outside on her own and was found by the police in the morning.

“It was first reported that she was wearing a suicide vest at the time of her arrest. But later it emerged that she was not wearing it and her handlers fled with the vest. Her age is also a question of debate. The first official version said she was eight. Other officials later said she was 10. But now she says she is nine.

“The Taliban have rejected all the allegations, calling them ‘part of the usual propaganda campaign to defame them’. And they regard the appointment of children, especially girls, in their ranks as wrong.”

Spozhmai spoke to Newsday on the BBC World Service.

YARI: What will happen to Afghan women?

A letter to the president on the state of Afghan women  (by Gaisu Yari )

Dear Barack Obama,

I am a college student in the middle of exams. However, unlike most college students, I am not a native English speaker; in fact, I am one of the few girls who managed to leave Afghanistan to find a better life in America and get a better education. I constantly think about my country and its tendency towards violence against women. I am sure you will not see this article, but this is the only way I can express my concern for the women of Afghanistan.

After you decided to withdraw from that country, think about what happened with Afghan women. As you are aware, many women have gained increasing freedoms in the past 13 years such as returning to school, entering universities and organizing political groups. Currently, the Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan reported a 24.7 increase in violence against women in 2013 alone. Among so many cases of which you are aware, there are two particularly brutal cases that shocked the nation of Afghanistan and the world.

Even though many women activists exist in Afghanistan, nothing has changed. In December, 32-year-old Sutara was attacked by her husband, a heroin addict who cut off her nose and lips. These cases are so common in Afghanistan and reading her stories gets them more attention. According to the BBC news source, Sutara was engaged at the age of 11. She is now 32. Her husband sliced off her lips and nose because she refused to sell her jewelry to get him cash. Now the husband is missing, and I do not think he will be found. This is one of those common cases that happen to women where they are afraid to report crimes because of insufficient legal protections. However, Sutara and many other women also struggle with the same dangers every day. These women deserve a better, brighter future.

As you are also aware, the situation is now worsening with the new election and the United States withdrawing from Afghanistan; my concern is for all Afghan women who are the future of this country. Because women have no power to currently change their situation, I wanted to ask you about what you will decide. My concern is for those girls who are happily attending school to find a better future. My concern is for those university students who are willing to finish their school for a better job opportunity to make their Afghanistan into a better place for not only women but also for all citizens. My concern is for those women who worked so hard these past 13 years to be part of the Afghan society. Why do we not look for a better solution?

Since women and children became the victim of this war, I have lost so many of my family members. Every single day, I read news about women being killed or abused in different kinds of struggles. What is the solution? Is the only solution waiting until Hamid Karzai signs the security agreement? Will this act bring more security to the country and especially to women? I really do not think women would ever try to bring violence; in contrast, they lost their lives and their hopes. Every single woman who struggles to live in Afghanistan is a part of me. Secondly, when did a security agreement become such an important phenomenon that we forgot about the deaths and casualties of innocent people? I am worried that the last 13 years of gain will soon be lost. I am afraid that women will go back to their houses and girls will be stopped from going to school. Finally, I just wanted to tell you that there are thousands of Sutara’s that scream for help. They need basic human rights. They were never born to suffer cut noses or lips or any other tortures. I believe that their movements will further Afghanistan’s reconstruction plans for the future. However, if the violence against women continues to increase every day, the whole world will be blamed for allowing such a disaster to happen in the history of humanity.

Who is Gaisu Yari ?

by Darby Witherspoon

Gaisu Yari  Gaisu Yari Engaged at age 6 

University student overcomes oppressive social circumstances to become women’s advocate

At age 6, most children are counting to 30, learning to read or maximizing tag time before dinner. The childhood of third-year College student Gaisu Yari, however, was much different.

Before she reached her seventh birthday, Yari — at that time living in Afghanistan — was engaged to be married.

“I did not know anything about it,” Yari said. “There was a warlord that came to my family and forced [them] to let me marry their son. He is from the area and he is still there. I am always scared to talk about him because he is still in power in Afghanistan.”

Yari said she considers her parents liberal — she described her father as “educated” and said her mother has a third-grade education — and does not believe they would have engaged in such an archaic tradition had regional power dynamics not held such weight.

“Due to the property that we have in Afghanistan … there was pressure that we needed to do that,” Yari said. “They already knew us before the [Soviet war in Afghanistan] started. We had some sort of connection with them — but not as a warlord, not as a person who could just … destroy your life.”

This experience lended Yari the courage to advocate for women’s rights while still living in Afghanistan. In seventh grade, she began volunteering to teach women to read and write. Then, in ninth grade, she became involved with Internews, a news organization with an Afghan sector that provides 110 FM stations throughout the country. In a typically male-dominated profession, Yari was the only woman employed at the station.

“I wrote them a letter,” Yari said. “I was really upset there were no women in the radio station, and I thought it was really important to have women in the radio. Their voices are so important. They talked about me on their show and they read [something I wrote]. A week after that, I went and I visited them… and they asked me if I wanted to work with them.”

Though she initially intended to only complete six months of volunteering, Yari ultimately held her job for three years and was given her own show in the process. Her show, however, generated significant local opposition, culminating in threats by religious leaders and, later, the Taliban.

“As a woman, it was so hard for me,” Yari said. “I noticed people were talking to me and my mom and saying, ‘Oh, your daughter is working with all these men. It is not okay. She is guiding other girls in a bad way. She has convinced my daughters to do all this craziness.’”

Despite rising criticism, Yari’s mom — the primary caretaker for five sons and five daughters — continued to stand behind her.

“One day, I told my mom I wasn’t going to work in the radio anymore,” Yari said. “She turned around and she said, ‘Gaisu, I am washing your clothes every week and I am cooking for you because I want to hear your voice from the radio. If you don’t go, I’m not going to do those things anymore.’ And I said, ‘That’s fine, I will go and work there.’”

Eventually, it was the show which gave Yari her opportunity to go to the United States.

“In 2007, I got this chance,” Yari said. “I was a part of a group of 1,000 people who got together to welcome these two American women to the village community. They recognized me as a woman who was struggling and working as a journalist, and they had a program send me here.”

For Yari, moving to the United States was an escape. With her wedding ceremony scheduled to occur right after graduation, travelling to the U.S. provided Yari a narrow escape from that fate.

“It was so close,” she said. “Every time I think about it, I am so glad that I got out of [it]. I am so glad that I got this chance to go to community college and that I have my own voice right now. My education is so important to me, and I am so thirsty for that every time I go to class.”

Upon arriving in the U.S., Yari set to work completing the relevant paperwork to attend school. Soon, she began taking English as a Second Language classes at Northern Virginia Community College, and in 2009 she enrolled in a two-year program at Piedmont Community College in Charlottesville.

Yari, now 26, transferred to the University this semester after completing her program at Piedmont, though she admits she struggled with both English and math.

“I was so nervous from the beginning, because I thought maybe my English level is not as good to compete with U.Va. students and I would not feel comfortable enough,” Yari said. “When I noticed that everybody is listening to my voice and everybody is thinking that it is such a unique voice and [showed a] different experience, it encouraged me more. I feel much more comfortable in the classes.”

Now that Yari is settled, she plans to focus her energy on reaching her biggest goal: helping women in Afghanistan. To reach this end, Yari plans to double major in Women, Gender and Sexuality and Middle Eastern Studies and then apply to law school.

“I think in order to help women in Afghanistan, it’s important for me to know Sharia law, international law and how to put those two together to have better [tools] to help women in Afghanistan,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll work as a journalist, but one day I hope to have an organization that will go and help women. If I think it’s not possible, then I can go back to the universities and teach.”

Women, Gender and Sexuality Prof. Cori Field, who teaches Yari’s introduction to gender studies course, said she expects she will have a great impact on the University community.

“She brings a multifaceted perspective into the classroom, and she is using her time at U.Va. to equip herself to go out and create change both in the U.S. and Afghanistan,” Field said.

Yari attends class five days a week and works three days a week at Starbucks. Although she has found it difficult to balance a job and school, Yari is constantly inspired by the opportunities she has in the U.S.

“My life is always in Afghanistan,” Yari said. “Sometimes, when I think about the lifestyles, it is like Afghans are living in the ancient world. I feel responsible, because they do not have the same chances that I did, and I have this chance.”


In Afghanistan, Women Betrayed

Sébastien Thibault

By HEATHER BARR / The New York Times 

KABUL, Afghanistan — When, in late November, I read a draft law prepared by Afghan government officials that reintroduced execution by stoning as the punishment for the “crime” of adultery, I was horrified but not that surprised. The draft, leaked to me by someone desperate to prevent reinstatement of this Taliban-era punishment, is just the latest in a pattern of increasingly determined attacks on women’s rights in Afghanistan.

The last 12 years have been a time of significant achievements here, hard-fought by Afghan activists. Millions of girls have gone to school, women have joined the police and the army and the civil service. Twenty-eight percent of the members of Afghanistan’s Parliament are women, and a 2009 law made violence against women a crime.

But signs are everywhere that a rollback of women’s rights has begun in anticipation of next year’s deadline for the withdrawal of international combat forces. Opponents of women’s rights are already taking advantage of growing international fatigue with Afghanistan.

On Monday, the United Nations issued a new report showing that while reported cases of violence against women went up by 28 percent in the last year, prosecutions increased by only 2 percent. A parliamentary debate last May on the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was derailed by conservatives calling for the abolition of a minimum marriage age for girls and arguing against making rape a crime. One of President Hamid Karzai’s new handpicked commissioners at the government’s previously well-respected Independent Human Rights Commission is an ex-member of the Taliban government who wasted no time after his appointment before calling for the repeal of the EVAW Law, which he said “violates Islam.”

These setbacks have occurred against a backdrop of continuing day-to-day abuses against women that are so commonplace that some extreme practices go almost unnoticed.

About half the women in prison in Afghanistan and about 95 percent of girls in juvenile detention — a total of about 600 people — are imprisoned on accusations of “moral crimes,” like sex outside of marriage or running away from home. In reality, most have fled forced marriages or domestic violence. Some are survivors of rape who are blamed by the courts for “immorality,” sometimes alongside their attackers.

Their stories are a call to the Afghan government to do much more to track down and punish abusers of women, and to crack down on police officers, prosecutors and judges who treat women fleeing abuse as criminals rather than victims. Above all, the government needs to end the barbaric practice of virginity tests. Whenever a woman or girl is arrested on “morality” charges — and sometimes even when she is accused of non-moral crimes such as theft or assault — she is whisked away for a vaginal examination at a government clinic in the province in which she was arrested. There is no opportunity for her to refuse.

Because of frequent mix-ups and general inefficiency, some women are sent for the examination two or three times. The examination, carried out by government doctors, results in a report on whether or not the woman or girl is a “virgin.”

These reports are often used as the sole evidence to support “moral crimes” charges in court, aside from a “confession” taken down by a police officer immediately after the arrest, which is usually signed with a thumbprint by a woman or girl who has no idea what it says. I have seen cases where a judge used the report as evidence against a girl even when its findings were inconclusive. For many of the 600 women and girls imprisoned for “moral crimes,” the doctor’s observations are a key factor in her receiving a stiff prison sentence.

Forcing these women and girls to undergo invasive vaginal examinations, sometimes repeatedly, to ascertain “virginity” as evidence likely to be used against them in criminal proceedings is not only a form of degrading and inhuman treatment strictly prohibited by international law but also a violation of their basic fair trial rights.

All of this would be horrific enough if it weren’t bad science, but it is. “Virginity” tests have no medical validity. A medical examination cannot determine, with any level of accuracy useful to a court, a woman’s sexual history.

And despite progress in other countries in banning such examinations, there are no signs of this practice ending in Afghanistan. For vulnerable Afghan women, things are only getting worse. One recently proposed law revision would ban victims of crime from testifying against family members — effectively preventing all prosecutions for domestic violence and forced or underage marriage. Female activists in Afghanistan, who have accomplished so much in the past 12 years, are doing all they can now to prevent that progress from unraveling. Countries, including the United States, have pledged continued funding for services for Afghan women, but in addition to aid they need political support. International support for the Afghan government and its security must depend on continued progress for Afghan women. Anything less would be a betrayal.

Heather Barr is the senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Empowering Women in Afghanistan: Interview with Anita Haidary at Global Voices


Anita Haidary is an Afghan women’s rights activist and co-founder of Young Women for Change(YWC), a non-governmental organization aiming to empower and improve the lives of women in Afghanistan. She is now studying Film Studies at an American college, while continuing to advocate for Afghan women’s rights. Global Voices has interviewed Anita about her activism and her views on the role of women in Afghanistan after the 2014 elections.

Global Voices: What inspired you to start Young Women for Change?

Anita Haidary: Every detail in my life, my family, and religion, the classes I took, and the school I went to have made me the person I am, with the values I have. The equality taught by my religion and the experience of seeing this equality practiced in my family made me stronger and nurtured certain values in me. Seeing inequality and insult at school invoked resistance in me, and I have been resisting injustice since the eighth grade. I didn’t always know that what I was fighting against was gender inequality. I was rather unwilling to accept something that I thought was wrong. Later this grew into a bigger struggle for the Afghan women.

GV: Why did you choose to campaign for women’s rights?

AH: Many people think that you have to be a victim to feel the pain. But I am not campaigning for women’s right because I was a victim. Instead, I was always told that I was a strong, capable, and smart person. Teachers in my school used to tell us that we, girls and women, were vulnerable, and I decided to speak up against this view. I continued doing so when seeing harassment against women and our limited role in society. This all has led me to work for women’s rights and become a co-founder of the Young Women for Change.

GV: Is it dangerous for you to advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan?

AH: Any attempt at social change and any challenge against the mainstream is dangerous. That’s exactly why this work should be done. It has to start somewhere. On the other hand, I do not agree with statements that activists should be “made of steel” and should be fearless. We are human beings, and it is in our nature to have fear. The important thing is that we continue fighting despite the dangers we come across. I have to remind myself from time to time that as a woman, I have the right to security. Therefore, while the determination to continue the struggle is important, it is also important to be smart in order to survive and be able to keep the struggle alive.

GV: How does YWC help to stop violence and discrimination against women in Afghanistan?

AH: YWC focuses on grassroots work. We ran several school projects that focused on preventing harassment and addressing women’s rights issues in general. We also organized demonstrations against honor killings and street harassment, and disseminated posters calling on people to stop these practices. We also write blogs to raise awareness. Besides, YWC organizes open lectures to raise people’s awareness about women’s rights in Islam and in international law.

GV: How close do you think YWC is to reaching its goal?

AH: We have started. YWC’s goal is to start the conversation about Afghan women’s rights, find solutions to most common issues within our society, and use the forces of society to implement those solutions. I think we have been successful in approaching our goal so far, particularly in recruiting volunteers, generating fruitful discussions, and finding collective solutions that respect the diversity of Afghan society.

We are currently working to give YWC a formal structure which is important as we are planning to grow and extend our geographic coverage in Afghanistan. We will soon be launching a street harassment report. We will also extend our work with schools and private courses.

GV: What are the main challenges YWC faces?

AH: We are a grassroots movement which depends on volunteers rather than paid employees. Volunteers face many challenges in Afghanistan, and this makes our work challenging too. Financial issues and social problems such as street harassment add up to our problems.

Besides, people know little about our cause and often resist what we do in some areas of Afghanistan. There are strong views against women and men working together in parts of Afghan society. But we include men in YWC’s work because we firmly believe that it is important that men learn about women’s rights and join our struggle for these rights.

GV: What is your view on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law? [Drafted by civil society, EVAW was enacted by a presidential decree in 2009. The Afghan parliament has recently refused to endorse the law].

AH: I think EVAW law is one of the most important steps that have been taken towards elimination of violence against women in Afghanistan. The law runs against multiple local laws which are not favoring women.

GV: Why do you think the Afghan parliament did not endorse the EVAW?

AH: Political parties in the parliament have their own agendas. They vote against laws that do not serve their goals. Some lawmakers stated they could not approve the law because it “contradicted” Islamic norms. But such statements are questionable because the law has been there and has been partly implemented since 2009. Why wasn’t the questions of the law being “un-Islamic” was not raised when the law was made?

GV: How can the EVAW law be improved?

AH: I think the law should incorporate Afghan women’s perspective. The government of Afghanistan also needs to remain aware of the international human rights norms when dealing with women’s rights.

GV: How do you see the role of women after 2014?

AH: I am concerned about the sustainability [of the gains that have been made] because of the possible deterioration of security. But I think women will remain very active. The lack of security will limit their activism. But at the same time, it will lead women to continue the struggle for their rights. The government should open up even more to women to ensure a greater representation for them, not only at lower levels but also in in major decision-making positions.

GV: There are no women candidates in the 2014 presidential elections. What is your take on this?

AH: I think this is very sad because we did have a female candidate during the previous presidential elections. I think it would be a very positive step if we had women in the presidential race. It would give other women courage to come forward. At the same time, the reality is that our society is dominated by men. People firmly believe that women are incapable of holding high-level governmental posts. Therefore, I cannot comment on whether a woman could really win the elections, but I definitely think that having a female presidential candidate would send a positive image to everyone in Afghanistan and the international community.

GV: As an Afghan women’s rights activist, what advice do you have for the young people of Afghanistan?

AH: I would advise them not to give up. It is just the beginning. If we keep fighting, we will get there. The rest of the world also had to struggle through hard times, and this is our time to start. We need to remember what divided our society in the past. We need to embrace and respect our diversity, and build tolerance between men and women, as well as among Afghanistan’s different linguistic, religious, and ethnic groups. We are a diverse society and nothing can change this fact. Now it is up to us whether we accept this and learn to live with each other and work together – or we can follow the path that we have long followed and face the grim consequences.

Global Voices also interviewed Noorjahan Akbar, another Afghan women’s rights activist and co-founder of Young Women for Change, earlier this year.

Samea Shanori

Staffers for French aid organization killed in Afghanistan

"Six Afghan employees were killed following an ambush that targeted a team of seven people," it said. "They were killed in the course of their work to support the development in the north. We deplore the deaths of our colleagues while they were carrying out their duties."
“Six Afghan employees were killed following an ambush that targeted a team of seven people,” it said. “They were killed in the course of their work to support the development in the north. We deplore the deaths of our colleagues while they were carrying out their duties.”

Six local staffers working for French aid group ACTED have been killed by suspected Taliban gunmen, according to officials. The staffers were working on a government-backed literacy project in the north of the country.

The victims were dragged from their car and shot Wednesday in the Pashtun Kot district of Faryab, which borders Turkmenistan. Provincial police chief Nabi Jan Mullahkhail said the staffers were traveling from the provincial capital of Maimana to Almar district when they were stopped. Seven people were shot in total, but just one survived, according to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation.

ACTED (the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) condemned the killings and confirmed that six of their staffers had died in the attack.

“Six Afghan employees were killed following an ambush that targeted a team of seven people,” ACTED spokesman Adrien Tomarchio said in a statement.

“They were killed in the course of their work to support development in the north. We deplore the deaths of our colleagues while they were carrying out their duties,” he added. “Today our thoughts are with the families and relatives of our lost colleagues and to our teams in Afghanistan.”

The Taliban were not immediately available for comment. Northern Afghanistan is generally more peaceful than the south and east of the country, but insurgents, militias and criminal gangs are active in the area.

ACTED is a Paris-based non-governmental organization founded in 1993 that runs aid projects around the world. According to its website, it had 834 local staff and 13 international staff working in Afghanistan last year. Earlier this year, a French ACTED employee was held hostage for more than two months before being safely released.

The scheduled withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan by 2014 has raised concern that aid donors will be reluctant to provide funds if the security infrastructure deteriorates.

DW and dr/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

Couple executed for having love affair in northern Afghanistan

A tribal court ordered to execute a couple accused of having illegitimate relations in northern Afghanistan, local government officials said.

A spokesman for the provincial security commandment, Ahmad Javid Basharat confirming the report said, the tribal court accused the couple for having illegitimate relations and were convicted with having love affair outside marriage.

Mr. Basharat further added that the incident took place Friday in Dand-e-Ghori district and the couple was apparently shot dead by gunmen following the tribal court hearing.

He said Afghan security forces have launched an investigation in this regard, and no suspect has been arrested so far.

In a similar incident, a couple was beheaded for daring to have a love affair outside marriage and bringing shame on their families in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The incident took place late in October, and the couple, who were in their 20s, were apparently killed by family members who were ashamed they had been living together outside marriage.

We Must not Abandon our Commitment to Afghan Women

According to UN figures, a staggering 87% of Afghan women suffer domestic violence, and the scandal of marrying off very young daughters to much older, often abusive, men continues.

“>The conference pledged over £10bn in funds for development in Afghanistan, with the UK one of the largest donors. This money will be vital in helping to shore up the fragile gains made over infrastructural development and human rights during the past 10 years. In particular, after the fresh horror of the video apparently showing the public execution of a young Afghan woman for adultery by Taliban gunmen, fears for the future of Afghanistan’s women are growing.

Understandably women in Afghanistan are scared. They are scared that in all the political horse-trading that will occur as the international community begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, their rights will be sacrificed in the rush for the exit.

Let’s not forget, significant progress on women’s rights has been made. We can already be proud that UK aid to Afghanistan means that it is now possible for many girls to go to school and for women to take part in public life. And in case anyone thinks this money might be disappearing into some warlord’s pocket – take a look at the numbers. Women now make up 27% of the Afghan parliament (it’s 22% in our own parliament, in case you were wondering) and some 2.7 million girls are now at school in Afghanistan (under the Taliban it was virtually zero).

;”>It must never be forgotten in all our rhetoric about a political solution that during their five years in power, the Taliban imposed a reign of terror on Afghan women. Women and girls were prisoners in their own homes, communities and towns. Afghanistan was hostile territory for women simply because they were women. The horrific abuses these women faced on a daily basis under the Taliban shocked the world and were one of the primary justifications for military interventions in 2001.

Without doubt progress has been hard-won, through bloody and tragic sacrifices made often by our own servicemen and women in combat, and often by brave Afghan civil rights campaigners both male and female – but during the past decade women’s rights in Afghanistan have made great strides. There is no doubt, however, the job is not finished and the underlying statistics still make for grim reading and show just how easily all this work and promise could be undone if we don’t get the leaving right. Because even now, Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a woman. The maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world – an Afghan woman dies every two hours due to pregnancy-related causes. According to UN figures, a staggering 87% of Afghan women suffer domestic violence, and the scandal of marrying off very young daughters to much older, often abusive, men continues.

The Taliban and other armed groups have by no means relinquished control and still cast a dark shadow over women’s lives in many parts of Afghanistan. Women in rural areas, particularly in the more conservative southern provinces and areas under de facto Taliban control, are being denied employment, freedom of movement and political participation.

High-profile female officials and human rights defenders have been killed simply for exercising their own rights or for defending the rights of others. These have included Malalai Kakar, the highest-ranking female police officer in Kandahar (she led a ten-woman police unit focused on domestic violence) shot dead by the Taliban on her way to work early one morning in 2008.

On top of targeted killings much-needed legislation like 2009’s Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women is unfortunately having virtually no impact, with little or no willingness to implement them from the police or courts. In fact, women who report violence face being accused of crimes themselves. The most infamous case is that of Gulnaz, a young woman raped by her cousin’s husband and then jailed for 12 years after she became pregnant. Like an estimated 400 women in Afghanistan, Gulnaz was imprisoned for a so-called “moral crime” and it took an unprecedented international campaign to win this one woman a presidential pardon last year.

As the date for the withdrawal of troops draws nearer and the jostling for political positions intensifies, the situation for women in Afghanistan has deteriorated. Hard-won gains are under sustained attack from conservative officials, religious bodies and insurgent groups. In the provinces of Ghazni, Logar and Wardak, for example, Amnesty International has talked to female officials who say that the direct threats from the Taliban are preventing them from travelling outside of the provincial centres and that most of the progress in girls’ education and women’s access to basic government services has been reversed.

The state of women’s rights in Afghanistan is now at a critical crossroads. Surveys show there is widespread fear among Afghan women that their government and its international partners will trade away their rights in a cynical attempt to barter some kind of political settlement with insurgent groups ahead of the international military pull-out in 2014. The UK has a pivotal role to play. We have pledged to put women and girls at the heart of our international aid strategy. There is no other place where it is more critical to do so than Afghanistan. The Tokyo Conference is a vital opportunity for the UK to prove that our commitment to the women of Afghanistan in 2001 was not simply empty rhetoric.

Taliban publicly execute woman near Kabul: officials

 A man Afghan officials say is a member of the Taliban shot dead a woman accused of adultery in front of a crowd near Kabul, a video obtained by Reuters showed, a sign that the austere Islamist group dictates law even near the Afghan capital.
In the three-minute video, a turban-clad man approaches a woman kneeling in the dirt and shoots her five times at close range with an automatic rifle, to cheers of jubilation from the 150 or so men watching in a village in Parwan province.
“Allah warns us not to get close to adultery because it’s the wrong way,” another man says as the shooter gets closer to the woman. “It is the order of Allah that she be executed”.
Provincial Governor Basir Salangi said the video, obtained on Saturday, was shot a week ago in the village of Qimchok in Shinwari district, about an hour’s drive from Kabul.
Such rare public punishment was a painful reminder to Afghan authorities of the Taliban’s 1996-2001 period in power, and it raised concern about the treatment of Afghan women 11 years into the NATO-led war against Taliban insurgents.
“When I saw this video, I closed my eyes … The woman was not guilty; the Taliban are guilty,” Salangi told Reuters.
When the unnamed woman, most of her body tightly wrapped in a shawl, fell sideways after being shot several times in the head, the spectators chanted: “Long live the Afghan mujahideen! (Islamist fighters)”, a name the Taliban use for themselves.
The Taliban could not be reached for comment.
Despite the presence of over 130,000 foreign troops and 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police, the Taliban have managed to resurge beyond their traditional bastions of the south and east, extending their reach into once more peaceful areas like Parwan.
Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and work since the Taliban, who deemed them un-Islamic for women, were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.
But fears are rising among Afghan women, some lawmakers and rights activists that such freedoms could be traded away as the Afghan government and the United States pursue talks with the Taliban to secure a peaceful end to the war.
Violence against women has increased sharply in the past year, according to Afghanistan’s independent human rights commission. Activists say there is waning interest in women’s rights on the part of President Hamid Karzai’s government.
“After 10 years (of foreign intervention), and only a few kilometres from Kabul… how could this happen in front of all these people?” female lawmaker Fawzia Koofi said of the public execution in Parwan.
“This is happening under a government that claims to have made so much progress in women’s rights, claims to have changed women’s lives, and this is unacceptable. It is a huge step backwards,” said Koofi, a campaigner for girls’ education who wants to run in the 2014 presidential election.
Salangi said two Taliban commanders were sexually involved with the woman in Parwan, either through rape or romantically, and decided to torture her and then kill her to settle a dispute between the two of them.
“They are outlaws, murderers, and like savages they killed the woman,” he said, adding that the Taliban exerted considerable sway in his province.
Earlier this week a 30-year-old woman and two of her children were beheaded in easternAfghanistan by a man police said was her divorced husband, the latest of a string of so-called “honour killings”.
Some Afghans still refer to Taliban courts for settling disputes, viewing government bodies as corrupt or unreliable. The courts use sharia (Islamic law), which prescribes punishments such as stonings and executions.
(Additional reporting and writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Justice Minister Apologises for Derogatory Remarks on Women Shelters

Afghanistan’s Minister of Justice Habibullah Ghaleb apologised for statements he made last week calling women’s shelters “centers of misconduct” and suggesting that women residing in them were prostitutes.
Ghaleb expressed his regrets for his provocative remarks at a press conference in Kabul.
“I again emphasise that if the women, who are my daughters and sisters, have been upset by me, I as their father and older brother apologise, not once, but a thousand times,” he said on Sunday.
Ghaleb had made the comment on the shelters at a conference organised by the Afghan parliament’s Women’s Affairs Committee.
He told delegates that the 250 women living in foreign-funded shelters across the country were being encouraged to disobey their parents.
“Mostly they were encouraging girls, saying, ‘If your father says anything bad to you don’t listen to him, if your mother says anything to you don’t listen to them.
There are safe houses for you where you can stay.’ What safe houses? What sort of immorality and prostitution is happening at these places?” he said.
His comments received widespread condemnation from women-related organisations across Afghanistan and calls for President Hamid Karzai to sack him.
EU foreign minister Baroness Ashton said last week that she was “deeply troubled” by Ghaleb’s comments which had only served to undermine efforts to protect women from violence and sexual abuse.
“Too many Afghan women have experienced violence, gender based and sexual, often on a repeated basis,” she said in a statement. “Women forced to resort to shelters are amongst the bravest Afghans we know.”

Afghanistan – The People’s December Review December 25, 2010

Afghanistan – The People’s December Review
December 25, 2010

In the first person voice of Abdulai, a fifteen year old Afghan boy whose father was killed by the Taliban:

“The place where I live is the worst place on earth in which to be born . Good thing my mother survived her pregnancies . But my father — he didn’t survive the war. Isn’t it strange that there is a graveyard marked out especially for children in my small remote mountain village? A quarter of all children do not live beyond five years of age and they are buried there; we already have to find new space because the graveyard is filled. As 42 percent of Afghans live in poverty , my family could not afford a proper grave for my father for five years. My father would have understood our predicament: in a land with the worst food risk in the world , we make do with whatever food and clean water we can get. Since we don’t have electricity , we are grateful for diesel lamps. And most importantly, my father would have understood that we still struggle to stay away from the killings.

Since War World II, wars have killed mainly civilians and this war in Afghanistan is no exception. In fact, we now have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide . We face night raids , computerized aerial bombings and the armed players who neither recognize our language nor our faces.

Many of our families and friends have sought refuge in far-away places . What can our people do? Wait to die of sickness or violence? Be pawns in the warlords’ games? I made hand-sewn leather cell-phone peace pouches for our ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in Kandahar and I know that before the NATO commander had launched the current offensive there, 94% of Kandaharis said they wanted peace talks , not war. But the US led coalition went ahead and launched its deadly military operation. They proved their utterly un-democratic, unimaginative addiction to an unchanging military solution.

Karzai said that more than 42 percent of children in Afghanistan still have no access to schooling : at least, that’s not as fatal as the three children killed daily in the conflict last year . If you don’t grasp how the Afghan state is the third most corrupt in the world , come take our school exams to experience the rampant bribery and cheating this war encourages. Like other war-torn countries, the influx of weapons and un-accounted monetary aid fosters corruption, fuelling deceit at all levels of our society.

Drugs made from poppies grown in our country are everywhere, with more than a million drug addicts in country . Perhaps, being doped is better than putting up with our sheer lack of work and recourse to government services or justice. Last year, estimates are that we Afghans had to pay $2.49 billion dollars in bribes to our own government officials , which is equivalent to 23% of our country’s GDP.

But heck it….we don’t even want your money! Two billion of which you spend on the military weekly and the remaining dirty trickle cannot even be accounted for by your Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) .

My mother and sister say to you that you can forget about promoting ‘women’s rights’ with your uniformed pride. Last year, there were 2300 suicides related to depression among women and girls . And don’t ever claim that a military strategy can stop them from taking their lives. Neither the US-NATO coalition nor our warlords can, with their violence, stop the desperation of our people. In fact, like the people caught in the Helmand operation that was declared a success, the women of Afghanistan want you, with full responsibility, to transition out as soon as possible .

President Obama, please completely rethink the ‘progress’ you declared in the
December review . To Ms. Hillary Clinton and Mr Robert Gates, we’re sorry for
your dismissal of world public opinion . Now, get ready for its flood!

This People’s December Review sought to speak from the ‘hearts and minds’ of ordinary Afghan people, commoners who share the same pain experienced by the impoverished and unheard masses everywhere.

It is a reflection of life as it really is for the people of Afghanistan.

The world should listen.

The people of the world should be listening to one another, because governments are not.

President Obama declared in his administration’s December Review that there was ‘significant progress’ for America’s goals in Afghanistan.

He claimed to be ‘on track.’

But, Abdulai’s People’s December Review shows how far off-track Obama is from the people’s concerns and how U.S. foreign policy gives no alternative options for any citizen.

There ARE alternative options and views, a small number of which we’ve listed below, starting off with Prof. Noam Chomsky’s views expressed in the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers’ recent conversation with him.

In the bigger scheme of history, for too long now, the strategies for resolving global conflicts have been built predominantly around military force.

Soul-force must be given a chance.

Excerpts of interview with Prof Noam Chomsky
In a conversation with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers on the 17th of December 2010 for The People’s December Review.

On Obama’s claims of ‘significant progress’
…it’s worth noting that a few days ago the International Commission of the Red Cross released a report which is extremely unusual for them, -they rarely do it,- in which they said that the situation on the ground has deteriorated radically. They gave particulars and said it’s now far worse than it’s been in the past. They’re actually working there and have experience. Plainly that’s not consistent with the picture of progress.

On self-determination by the people
I know for me at least and the people I work with in the antiwar movement the goal for Afghanistan would be for Afghans themselves to take over the planning, the determination of what will happen ,so that there won’t be a review conference in Washington where they have their own goals, –the welfare of the people of Afghanistan is not high among them,– but rather the decisions will be made by people like you and others in Afghanistan who have the fate of your country and your lives at heart and people of the US here should support your efforts in whatever way we can.

….But there is extensive study that demonstrates that there is a very wide gap between the decisions of the government and the will of the population. That’s true on domestic issues. It’s true on international issues, and it reflects the fact that though the U.S. is an unusually free country by comparative standards, it’s only in a very limited way a functioning democracy.

Power does not lie in the hands of the population except in a very limited way and popular opinion does not determine policy. And that’s in fact one of the reasons why there’s such hysteria over the leaks of government documents. Anyone who has studied secret documents for many years, as I have, knows one of their main purposes is to protect the government from the population, not security, but just keeping the public controlled and obedient. That’s a battle that has to be constantly fought in the more free societies as well to try to overcome this dysfunctional element of formal democracy which keeps it from functioning properly. Popular movements have in the past and should in this case too integrate themselves with those of other countries and form a common force, often against their own governments.

On reparations
Afghanistan has a very dramatic, important history of independence, but for the last thirty years it has simply been a plaything of the great powers which have virtually destroyed it. All of them. All of the ones who were involved owe Afghanistan not aid but reparations. Apology and reparations. That includes Russia, of course, and certainly the United States and it also includes Pakistan. Aid sounds like something we give out of our good nature or good will. Reparation means what we are responsible for providing because of the extreme damage we have caused. And yes, that‘s a very important demand. It should be made here and should be made in Afghanistan.

On the question of U.S. intentions in Afghanistan: eventual withdrawal or permanent presence?
At this point, I think it’s not unlikely that even just for domestic, political reasons, the U.S. will try to find a way to withdraw most of its forces and try to portray it as some kind a victory. That’s for domestic reasons.
But, I don’t think that’s what should concern us. We’re not concerned with making officials in Washington look good to their associates.
We should be concerned with what matters for the people of Afghanistan. And that’s of course for you and others like you to decide. Success, I would understand as meaning success in achieving your aims, not Washington’s aims.

On what Afghan and international peace activists should focus on
What Afghans should focus on is finding ways to join together to formulate their own ideas and plans as to the course of policy, internal to Afghanistan, and their demands on other countries that are engaged in Afghanistan. That means primarily the US but also others that are involved.

Afghans should formulate those goals and policies jointly with people in the rest of the world, in particular in the United States that work to support those plans, so the activists in the United States should be and to an extent are waiting to hear from people of Afghanistan. What do you want us to do?

A Sample of Alternative December Reviews

“So what’s my option?” the president asked his war cabinet, seeking alternatives…
You have essentially given me one option. …It’s unacceptable.”
Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward

“Why not talks?”
“Why not reconciliation?”
“Why not non-violence?”

1. World Public Opinion Polls

International public opinion is largely opposed to the war in Afghanistan

The latest ABC polls show that 60 % of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.

An earlier ABC/Washington Post Poll showed that Afghans have turned more negative in their assessment of the presence and performance of U.S. and NATO forces

Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates tried to belittle this significant public opinion. Read how they dismissed public opinion and democracy.

2. Letter from Afghan Experts to Barack Obama
Read how these Afghan Experts call Obama’s strategy unsustainable

3. National Intelligence Estimates NIE
Read how 2 new NIE reports cast doubts on the Afghan war progress

4. Other Studies/Reports
A New Way Forward: Rethinking US Strategy in Afghanistan published by Washington-based Afghan Study Group

“Strategic Survey 2010” released by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies

Both studies above conclude that “a Taliban takeover is unlikely even if Washington reduces its military commitment” in Afghanistan, in good measure because the conditions that allowed the first Taliban takeover in the 1990s no longer exist and can’t easily be repeated. As important, “there [are] no significant Al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan today, and the risk of a new ‘safe haven’ there under more ‘friendly’ Taliban rule is overstated.”

Afghan Women Speak by David Cortright of Kroc Institute which expresses Afghan women’s recommendations to the US and NATO governments for a responsible withdrawal.

Harmful Traditional Practices and Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan

Georgette Gagnon, UNAMA’s Director of Human Rights; and Ahmad Fahim Hakim, Deputy Chairman of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
Kabul – 9 December 2010UNAMA: Good morning. Thank you all for coming. Today’s launch of UNAMA’s human rights report: Harmful Traditional Practices and Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan coincides with our celebration of International Human Rights Day, which is tomorrow 10 December. Every day, but on International Human Rights Day in particular, we commend the courage, commitment and dedication of all Afghan defenders of human rights and today we pay special tribute to those who defend the rights of Afghanistan women and girls. We are very pleased to have with us today the Deputy Chairman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Ahmad Fahim Hakim, who himself and his group are the key defenders of human rights in Afghanistan.

The report we are releasing today – and this is a very important point – represents the voices and views of Afghan men and women on harmful traditional practices. These include forced and child marriage, giving away girls to settle disputes under baad, honour killings and other forms of violence against women.

The report describes the prevalence of these practices; it look at the consequences these practices have on the lives of Afghan women and girls and the community as a whole and it also looks at the efforts of the Afghan Government to address violence against women, in particular the Government’s implementation of the 2009 Law of Elimination of Violence Against Women.

This law, also know as the EVAW law came into force in August 2009. It represents a huge gain of legal protection of women’s rights, because the law says customs, traditions and practices that cause violence against women, contrary to the religion of Islam, should be eliminated . The law makes it a crime to buy and sell women for marriage, to force a woman to marry without her consent, to force girls to marry when they are underage, and to force girls and women to commit self-immolation – when they set themselves on fire – and a number of other acts.

Now this report that we are releasing today is based on extensive research, direct discussions, and interviews with Afghan men and women, religious leaders, and Government officials, in almost all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and it is also based on UNAMA human rights monitoring and the follow up of many, many individual cases of harmful traditional practices and violence against women.

What were the findings of our report? First, almost all the Afghan men and women we spoke to said they know there are harmful traditional practices in Afghanistan and they identified practices such as child marriage, forced marriage, baad, honour killings and inheritance of widows, among some other practices.

The second finding is these harmful practices are widespread, occurring in varying degrees in all communities – urban and rural – and among all ethnic groups and these practices have been worsened by more than 30 years of insecurity and poverty.

The next finding is that these practices are rooted in discriminatory views and beliefs of the role and position of women in Afghan society and have caused suffering, pain and humiliation and marginalisation for millions of Afghan women and girls.

For example, on child marriage we found as have other agencies such as UNIFEM, that half of all girls are married under the age of 15 and we were quoted a popular saying in many communities: “If you hit a girl with your hat and she doesn’t fall over, it’s time to marry her.”

And, of course, child marriage has lasting and damaging consequences for women and girls. They are often denied the right to health and education and this is reflected in the fact that Afghanistan has the worst maternal mortality rate in the world.

Our next finding is that often women and girls have no escape from the violence they experience everyday. They suffer physical and mental abuse and many told us that other than running away they have no option but to take that violence.

One very harmful practice that we heard a lot about is baad, which is the giving away of girls to settle disputes. Many of the women told us that instead of the murderer being punished, an innocent girl is punished and she has to spend all her life in slavery and subject to cruel violence. Sometimes she is forced to sleep with the animals in the barn.

Now a little bit of good news is that inspite of the prevalence of these practices, our research, interviews and discussions indicated that many communities are opposed to these harmful practices. One Provincial Council member in the northern region said that these practices can change or decrease over time. People tend to oppose baad even in rural areas have understood the negative consequences and have begun to value female family members.

Before I hand over to my colleague, one other key finding of the report is that many religious scholars and elders told us that many of these harmful practices are inconsistent with Sharia law. The role of religious leaders and community elders and to both continuing and ending these practices is critical.

AIHRC [summarised from Dari]: My colleague has highlighted the main findings. It was actually appalling to see the malpractices and enhanced victimisation of the women in Afghanistan. But to focus on solutions—one of the key players in Afghanistan are the religious elders and the ulemas who can enhance their efforts and awareness-raising of their constituents in mosques and all other available means they have. Since we have been witnessing various patterns of violence against women, it causes young girls and women to leave their houses and commit suicide and self-immolation. These are the shocking consequences of not dealing with violence against women.

Fortunately the implementation of the EVAW law is based on Article 54 of the Constitution to combat those practices that are violating women’s and children’s rights.

The good news is that now the level of awareness of this issue is being put into practice. In the last couple of days we heard from the Ministry of Interior that they arrested the father-in-law of Bibi Aisha, the lucky victim, who was rescued. For sure we have hundreds of Bibi Aishas in Afghanistan. So, this clearly shows that now our national forces, particularly police, can distinguish to some extent between the victim and the criminal and how to treat them.

Another point that I want to highlight is this misinformation about the effective role of shelters that emanates from a lack of awareness. Those women and girl victims of domestic violence who are forced to leave behind their homes—the only appropriate place for them is shelters not prisons. In the absence of shelters they are treated as criminals and put in prisons. We hope there will be an end to this since Afghanistan is committed to implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals. We hope this report enables the human rights support unit of the Ministry of Justice which was solely established to translate these recommendations into practical steps in terms of laws and official procedures.

UNAMA: One quick point is that ‘running away,’ which was mentioned is not a crime under Afghan law. Yet half of the female prison population in the country is in prison for a moral crime such as running away. That is a shocking statistic. Finally we would like to say that in our view little meaningful and sustainable progress for women’s rights can be achieved in Afghanistan as long as women and girls are subject to these practices that harm, degrade, humiliate and deny them basic human rights. Ensuring the human rights of Afghan women is crucial, especially in this current peace, reintegration and reconciliation process and in their access to healthcare, education and employment. There are a lot of safeguards on paper but we all need to see much better implementation. Of course, the report makes a number of key recommendations to the Government, the police, religious community and international donors and we, the human rights community, are urging all these actors to move on these recommendations without delay to save the lives of women and girls. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:
RFE/RL: I wanted to know what you want the Government of Afghanistan to do to prevent violence against women in Afghanistan? Do your findings show that some Afghan law enforcement authorities are unaware of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law? Many of these officials are unwilling or even unable to implement the law. Why don’t you want to disclose the names of these officials?

UNAMA: As you can see in the report there are 15 recommendations to the Afghan Government including the president. A couple of key ones are for the president to highlight continually that women’s rights are a priority in the peace, reintegration, and reconciliation process and also urging different Government authorities to implement the EVAW law quickly. Seven Government ministries have been tasked under the EVAW law. We are also calling on the authorities to consider ways and means to get these girls detained [for running away] released as quickly as possible.

AIHRC: Regarding your question: why do we not name, I think in this regard there is a need to bring awareness of this issue up and that protection and defense mechanisms should exist. While administrative corruption and impunity is existing in some parts of the administration that could create an additional risk for victims. When these mechanisms are put properly in place then names could be disclosed.

UNAMA: Regarding revealing in a public form the names of different officials who may not be acting properly under the law we have taken much of this information to the authorities we have done this in the areas with the local authorities and discussed getting some changes at those levels in addition, of course, to the highest level we have recommended that the Ministry of Interior, the police, the judges and the courts give out specific instructions, guidelines and supervise the activities of police in this area both at the local level and at the national level.

Saba TV [translated from Dari]: Could you tell us the number or percentage of the increase of violence against women? And tell us the factors behind the increase of violence against women and how the Government is successful against violence against women?

UNAMA: We don’t have a percentage per se. That’s not what is in the report. The whole report says clearly the reasons why this is still happening across the country. There are many factors and I have already described a number of them. The key thing is that those who are committing these practices must be brought to justice. And the communities that are letting this happen need to speak out. And we’ve indicated how they should do that.

BBC: My question was on the last point you made regarding factors of violence against women. These factors are not new. This is not the first time we are hearing this. In the last seven or eight years we have seen many of these reports. Why are you not doing something practically to eradicate that and what has been done to eliminate this violence?

UNAMA: What is new is that there is a new law that came in which is just over a year old. What is also new is that there have been some steps taken under the law to prosecute those who are committing these harmful traditional practices. What is also new is that many, many communities that we spoke to oppose them and many are working and to try and address the attitudes. But what is important is to keep highlighting that there is a problem. You have to keep highlighting issues like this and push to get them fixed.

AIHRC: I highlight that civil society groups, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and UNAMA are not executive bodies, but advocacy ones. They are doing advocacy work and raising the voice of the people. We are keen to enable the Government to fulfill its commitments.

El Mundo: How many shelters are there for women in Afghanistan right now? You said that many women have any no option but to run away?

UNAMA: Regarding the number of shelters there are not many shelters across the country and for a number of reasons – security reasons in particular – we don’t give out numbers. I can help you to find that exact information. The Elimination of Violence Against Women Law and the activities of the Department of Women Affairs at the provincial level are important. The law is designed to help women deal with violence in their home and communities and to get assistance through registering complaints with police and others and to go to shelters. The Department of Women’s Affairs has a key role in making this happen together with various women’s civil society groups. In terms of registering marriages one of our key recommendations if you looked at the report is that two people who are supposed to get married actually go to the registry office in person to be registered. This may be a way to deal with problems with very, very young girls who are getting married. That is addressed in our report.

El Mundo: What about registering?

AIHRC: This is not a common practice. This does happen in some cases. This is our suggestion to have it enforced. Unfortunately the new registration documents are not available to all. Sadly due to corruption and due to bureaucracy it’s time consuming. That’s why they revert to the old practices. That is another concern.

Noorin TV [translated from Dari]: Yesterday we spoke with the Deputy of Minister of Women Affairs who rejected that the fact that there had been an increase in violence against women. She said women had become more aware to their rights. The other main factor is that women have been asked to register if they face any violence. Is that the only reason violence against women has increased? What’s your view on this?

UNAMA: It is a very well known fact that once women feel they can report violence against women the number of reports go up. That’s a well-known fact and that’s a good thing because you want women to go to the court and to register their complaints, to get their complaints investigated and people prosecuted.

Of course the concern is that there are many cases we have heard about where women do not go and register a complaint and who are unable to get out of the situation they are in and use other ways to deal with it like setting themselves on fire or running away. But as we said the good news is there is a lot more awareness that these practices are not only hurting women, but the community as a whole and there have been some steps to deal with them.

Pajwok [translated from Dari]: With regard to the positive aspect of the decrease of violence against women, despite positive signs, why is the participation of women in the Government decreasing and what’s the main reason behind this? And about the implementation of the law of elimination of violence against women how do you think such law will be fully implemented in a country like this?

UNAMA: The report says quite clearly that implementing this law could help to end violence against women, not end all violence against women. Obviously there are all kinds of things that the community and the young men in this room need to do to promote better the rights of women and girls and, as we said in the report, the religious community and religious leaders are really important in all of this. The report is at the side of the room. It is quite a long report but has got a lot of interesting things in it. I urge you to read every word about it.

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