TOLOnews.com, October 11, 2013
On International Girl’s Day, Violence Against Women Trends Worrying
Statistics from AIHRC show that in the first four months of this year, 114 forced marriages were registered of which 41 were reported as including underage girls
By Saleha Sadat
In an interview with TOLOnews on the International Day of the Girl Child, Assistant General Secretary of the United Nations (UN) John Hendra expressed major concerns with recent trends of violence against women, which he said were threatening the gains made since the fall of the Taliban in improving the lives of female Afghans.
Young Afghan mother with child. (Photo: http://myphototravel.livejournal.com/645479.html)
"I have only been in this country for four days but we are certainly concerned with a number of issues over the last three or four years," said Hendra. "One is clearly still the high levels of violence against women and girls, as I said earlier. Second is the series of targeted killings against senior female journalists and senior female government officials, and that is of great concern. And thirdly is to ensure on a broader note, that there will be much more focus on economic empowerment. I think, really the deal of these issues is about empowerment. So I think Afghanistan needs to also focus more on empowerment."
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) reported rising rates of domestic abuse in 2013, saying that a higher number of cases have been submitted in comparison to last year.
In addition, there have been a number of high-profile attacks against female Parliamentarians and female police officers in recent months. In August, MP Fariba Ahmadi Kakar from Kandahar was abducted by insurgents and later exchanged for imprisoned militants. That same month the top ranking female police officer in the country, Islam Bibi, was assassinated by insurgents in Helmand. Less than a month later, the same thing happened to her successor, Negar.
Hendra encouraged the government to implement the Anti-Violence Against Women Law, which has been stalled in Parliament for months. He also called for more efforts to raise participation of Afghan women in political and economical fields.
"It is very important in the upcoming elections that women really are able to participate as much as possible," Hendra said. It is positive that Afghanistan has 28 percent women in the National Assembly, it ranks number 30th in the world in terms of percentage of women in parliament, but it's a critical election for the future of the country so it's really important that women and young people really participate as much as possible."
October 11 is celebrated as International Girl's Day all over the world to increase awareness of girl's rights. In a declaration, the UN has said that giving importance to girl's education and preventing child marriages are essential to society's development.
Statistics from AIHRC show that in the first four months of this year, 114 forced marriages were registered of which 41 were reported as including underage girls.
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