Afghanistan

In high heels and head scarves, a small band of Afghan women took to the streets of the country's capital, Kabul, on Thursday to protest harassment by men in public places. Carrying signs, that read "This street also belongs to me" and "We won't stand insults anymore" the 20 or so women -- and some men marching in solidarity -- protested being abused, groped and followed on the city's streets. Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative country, with heavy cultural and social restrictions on women's freedoms, even though the ouster of the hardline Taliban nearly a decade ago brought huge improvements in their legal rights.

The report seeks to put back on the agenda some of the issues pertaining to the enjoyment of all human rights by all Afghan women that are being increasingly ignored. The problems identified in this report require further discussion and public debate, with a view to informing appropriate legal, policy and awareness-raising measures. In this report, UNAMA Human Rights has focused on the following critical issues: (a) violence that inhibits the participation of women in public life; and (b) sexual violence in the context of rape.

This (15 page) paper examines three Muslim contexts (Iran, Afghanistan, and Alergia) to show how ‘the woman question’ figured predominantly in Islamist discourses and legal frames, and how these discourses and laws led not only to social and sexual control over women but also to physical violence and death.  Moghadam situates the sources of such violence in the legacy of “heroic masculinity”, the unveiling of women in the context of changes in the gender regime and cultural practices, economic and political difficulties, and international factors.

This report discusses issues of forced marriage, selling and enslaving women (trafficking), and using women and girls as dispute settlements within the framework of socially acceptable practices (bad) in Afghanistan.

This report comprises the Afghanistan component of an internal project examining women’s participation in family and domestic violence health policy and policy development. Carried out across five different countries – Canada, Australia, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Afghanistan – the goal of the project was to describe the characteristic of the domestic violence health policy community in each country. The report begins with a rationale for the project and an introduction to the unique situation facing women in Afghanistan.

In this report, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, its causes and consequences, welcomes the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women by the Government of Afghanistan as a sign of its political will and commitment to end gender discrimination. However, despite some progress over the last year, concerns remain which the Special Rapporteur has outlined, along with the remaining challenges yet to overcome.

This report discusses the situation of violence against women in Afghanistan as of 2006. Yakin Ertürk, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, reports that the situation of women is dramatic and severe violence against them all-pervasive. Four factors underlie women’s vulnerability and the perpetuation of violence: the traditional patriarchal gender order; the erosion of protective social mechanisms; the lack of the rule of law; and poverty and insecurity in the country.

The section that relates to violence against women begins on page 39 of this report. It addresses violence against women in the family and discuses the fact that the Afghan Criminal Code contains no provision that clearly criminalises violence in the private sphere. It discusses the problem of rape victims, when reporting their assault to the police, being charge for zina offences. There is a long section addressing the problem of zina crimes and punishments in general, including the fact that ‘running away from home’ can incur a zina conviction.

Violence against women in Afghanistan, according to this report by Amnesty International, is perpetuated by a ‘culture’ of impunity on a vast scale for such violence. In Afghanistan, few cases of abuse and violence are reported to the criminal justice system, and almost none of the cases that were have been subject to investigation or prosecution. Amnesty International’s research indicated that in some parts of the country custom or tradition is used to legitimise the violent deaths of women.

Uphold the rights of Afghan women and girls to be freed from gender-based violence. Secure the independence of women shelters in Afghanistan. The Global Campaign to Stop Violence against Women in the Name of ‘Culture’, an international network of women’s human rights defenders and advocates, fully supports our sisters in Afghanistan in resisting their government’s attempt to put the country’s women shelters under State control. If the Afghan government proceeds with this proposed legislation, it will invite serious risks to the already-fragile security of women and girls who are in desperate need of protection from gender–based violence in their country. This development is alarming and deserves the attention of the international community.

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