Afghanistan

Harmful traditional practices violating women’s rights, including honour killings, child marriage and giving away girls to settle disputes, are pervasive in Afghanistan, says a United Nations report released today that calls on the Government to implement a new law aimed at ending the scourge. Based on research and interviews in nearly all 34 provinces with women, men, Government authorities, religious leaders and community groups, the human rights unit of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that the practices occur among all ethnic groups, in rural and urban areas, and that the most harmful among them violate not only Afghan law but also Islamic Sharia law.

Zarghoona* has completed her three-month sentence at a prison in Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan, but she is not allowed home because no male relative has shown up to guarantee that she will not run away from home again. “All my family has abandoned me. I am dead for them but they [prison authorities] say they will only release me to a man from my family,” the woman told IRIN in a phone interview facilitated by an official who preferred anonymity. 

Open letter to President of Afghanistan: H.E. President of Afghanistan, The last decade in the history of our country, despite all the shortcomings, was full of hope for the women of Afghanistan. In the first few years of the decade, we witnessed positive developments toward freedom of women from yokes of captivity, fanaticism and fundamentalism. These hopes opened a new page in history for women and we may dare say that the newly founded democratic government of Afghanistan became a bastion of ideals of gender equality and justice for women who were tired of the rule of fanaticism and misogynism. Those developments revived the lost dignity of Afghanistan at the international level. Alas, those hopes and achievements have been subjected to disruption and regression in recent years leading to human catastrophes such as assassinations, stoning and gender discrimination. 

La Campagne mondiale «Arrêtons de tuer et de lapider les femmes» et le Réseau international de solidarité Femmes sous lois musulmanes (WLUML) condamnent les punitions violentes, commises récemment par les Talibans en Afghanistan. Dimanche dernier, les Talibans ont exécuté par lapidation un couple dans la vingtaine, dans un village contrôlé par leurs forces à Kunduz, dans le nord de l’Afghanistan. Ce couple s’était enfui au Pakistan pour se marier, même si l’on avait raconté qu'’ils avaient été fiancés à d’autres personnes. Peu de temps après, ils retournaient ensemble dans leur village de Mullah Qulli, dans la région de Archi au Kunduz. Certains rapports indiquent que leurs familles avaient accepté de les marier, tandis que d’autres affirment que le jirga avait décidé de leur pardonner, si l’homme s’acquittait d’une compensation. Les Talibans les arrêtèrent tous les deux pour crime d’adultère et les lapidèrent, dans un bazar de la quartier de Dasht-e Archi. Ce crime a été confirmé par le gouverneur de Kunduz, Mohammad Omar.

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women and the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International Solidarity Network condemn the recent incidents of violent punishments by the Taliban in Afghanistan.   

Taliban forces have stoned a couple to death for adultery in a public execution. With Nato and UN officials in Kabul poring over the latest Taliban proposal to establish a joint commission to investigate civilian casualties, officials in the north of the country were detailing a killing that Amnesty International described as the first confirmed stoning in the country since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Militants ordered the stoning after a married man and a single woman in Dasht-e-Archi district, Kunduz province, were accused of eloping.

Taliban insurgents flogged and publicly executed a pregnant Afghan widow for alleged adultery Saturday, according to reports. The woman, Sanum Gul (also reported as Bibi Sanubar by DAWN), was killed in Badghis province in western Afghanistan Saturday morning, the provincial governor's spokesman said. After being held in captivity for three days and flogged 200 times, Gul -- whose age was given as both 35 and 47 in various reports -- was shot in the head three times, said Hashim Habibi, the district governor of Qades, also located in the province. Though Habibi said Taliban commander Mohammaad Yousuf carried out the execution, a Taliban spokesman has since denied any involvement.

"We have not done anything like that in Badghis or any other province," the spokesman said, calling the report "propaganda" by foreigners and the Western-backed Afghan government. Officials say Gul had been widowed for four years. She was accused of adultery for her relationship with an unnamed man, despite claims that the man had planned to marry her. Various groups have since condemned the killing.

Reprising a legendary 1985 National Geographic cover, this week's Time magazine cover girl is another beautiful young Afghan woman. But this time there is a gaping hole where her nose used to be before it was cut off under Taliban direction. A stark caption reads: "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan". A careful editorial insists that the image is not shown "either in support of the US war effort or in opposition to it". The stated intention is to counterbalance damaging the WikiLeaks revelations – 91,000 documents that, Time believes, cannot provide "emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land".

Here in Afghanistan, Samia's story is typical – its happy ending is not. Samia is a rape victim, but now it's the morning of her wedding. By late afternoon, she will be married in a private ceremony in Karte Se, Kabul. One of the 150 guests at this extraordinary marriage ceremony will be the activist and suspended MP Malalai Joya: Samia's handsome husband-to-be, Faramarz, has been one of Ms Joya's bodyguards for more than four years.

"If the conflict is to be wound down, real compromises will have to be made on the constitution, women's rights and civil liberties." These are the words of an editorial comment in Afghan Scene, a magazine written by and mainly for the international community in Afghanistan. After years of fierce fighting and numerous counterinsurgency initiatives, the Afghan government and some of its international allies seem to have reached to the peak of desperation. They are now even exploring whether Afghan women's rights can be sacrificed in order to declare "mission accomplished".

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