Afghanistan: "One Month in Afghanistan: A Step Backwards for Women in Afghanistan"

Afghan Women's Network
A statement from the Afghan Women’s Network on women's immediate security concerns.
"The security situation is continuing to deteriorate for women in Afghanistan. Over the course of the last month, 21 May to 21 June, Afghanistan has taken a step backward – continued discriminatory action and threats against women in Parliament, two female journalists were murdered and others threatened, and two innocent schoolgirls slain on their way home from school. If security is not guaranteed for women who are public figures and girls walking home from school, all successes for women in Afghanistan will have been for naught.
Discriminatory actions against female parliamentarians on the parliament floor.

The suspended parliamentarian and many other female parliamentarians from the upper and lower houses of parliament have been repeatedly physically assaulted, verbally abused and threatened by many male parliamentarians on and off the Parliament floor. They have stood against all female parliamentarians and nothing has been done about it. None of these men have been suspended or sanctioned. Why was the Parliament quiet on these occasions? There should not be different rules for the male parliamentarians and female parliamentarians of Afghanistan.

Two female journalists were murdered in Afghanistan is less than one week.

Two female journalists have been murdered within a week’s time and yet after two weeks from the incident there is no response or reaction from the government and law enforcement institutions to identify the murderers.

Afghan journalists, both men and women, trying to represent the voice of the Afghan people, risk kidnapping and murder on a daily basis. Extremist elements are especially vigilant against female reporters. Women have become much more active in Afghanistan’s independent media since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Between 31 May 2007 and 5 June 2007, the so-called unknown assailants murdered two female journalists.

Murder of two schoolgirls in Lugar Province

On 12 June 2007, unknown armed motorcyclists opened fire on a group of schoolgirls from Bibi Fatima High School in Pul-iAlam, capital of Lugar, as they were on their way home after school. Two schoolgirls were killed and six were wounded.

To ensure women’s public participation and progress, women need security

Progressive women and girls continue to be threatened and are facing the fear of being murdered every day in Afghanistan. While security is important for all Afghans, the killing of women and girls can have serious implications on other women’s public participation. If the issue of the lack of security for Afghan women and girls is not addressed, fear and intimidation will take its toll. Although the women will continue their activities, but creating an atmosphere of fear and threat will affect the whole process of democratization and good-governance. Therefore we ask the Government of Afghanistan and International Community to take serious note and to initiate the necessary investigation to address the issue mentioned above and the recent attempts to curtail the rights and public life of Afghan women.

In conclusion, the consequences of no attention to the intimidation of women’s public participation will call into question the whole government and international community’s commitments to ensure women’s equal right in Afghanistan.

We recommend that the law enforcement institutions including the police, security and judicial should take serious consideration of the maters and set up a clear and effective mechanism to protect the women activists as they seem to be specially targeted by the anti-women forces and meanwhile it is recommended to seek for preventative measures which can stop an incident before it happens.

The Afghan Women’s Network, the largest women’s rights network of women and human rights organizations in Afghanistan, envisions an Afghanistan in which all members – women, children, and men – participate equally. The members aspire to create an Afghan community which values, respects, and encourages the tremendous capacities of women and their contributions to Afghan culture and society.

For more information, please contact Afghan Women’s Network at or visit the website."

21 June 2007