The Killid Group, December 10, 2013
Shining light on crimes against women
The AIHRC has calculated a shocking 24 percent rise in human rights abuse compared to 2012
By Lal Aqa Shirin
Ahead of World Human Rights Day, Dec 10, Killid reports the state of human rights continues to be sobering in Afghanistan despite some small gains made by activists this year.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has calculated a shocking 24 percent rise in human rights abuse compared to 2012. There is a rise in the graph of violence against women, murder of civilians by foreign troops, air attacks, and sexual aggression.
But AIHRC chairperson Dr Sima Samar told Killid the rise in reported violence could be seen as a measure of people’s confidence in reporting rights violations.
She pointed to 1,249 instances of crimes against women alone that included 1,050 cases of near fatal beating, 17 of burning with boiling water, 11 of pulling out hair, 3 of poisoning and 2 of cutting off body parts. There are nearly 3,000 other cases that include forced marriages, sexual violence and so-called honour killings.
On Nov 25, observed all over the world as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a young couple who eloped to get married in Baghlan were caught and then killed by the relatives of the girl.
Khadija Yaqeen, head of women’s affairs in Baghlan confirmed the details. “The boy and girl had fled to marry but later on they were tracked down by relatives of the girl. The next day, at 10 am, they were shot dead – a decision of villagers in Dand-e-Ghori,” she told reporters.
As the government maintained silence the people of Baghlan erupted in protest against the killings, and threatened to leave their homes if the guilty were not arrested.
Relatives of the victims say the young couple were first attacked with a knife, and then killed. Abdul Wahed, father of Safiullah, the boy, told Pajhwok New Agency that his son was murdered, and three of the murderers were walking free. One of the three has been identified as a police officer in Nahreen police department, while the two others are “armed individuals”. The father was outspoken. “If the murderers of my son are not arrested the people that have protested will carry out their threat and leave their houses,” he said.
Mohammadullah, a villager, has spoken out against the heinous crime committed in Dand-e-Ghori. He said the father of the girl was not prepared to kill his daughter and she was shot dead by her uncle's son. According to him, the father has not spoken to the media because residents of the area have kept him a prisoner in case he reveals the facts of the case.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor of Baghlan, Qadeem Khan, says four arrests have been made so far. Jawed Basharat, the press adviser to the security commandant of Baghlan, said investigating officials have not ruled out the involvement of the security commandant of Nahreen district in the murder of the two young people.
Failing the women
There has been a rise in cases of sexual violence against women. Adela Markhail, deputy head of Women’s Rights Support Department in AIHRC’s regional office told Killed," It includes sexual assault, forced abortion (under pressure from the husband or his family), and sexual harassment.”
Latifa Sultani, the legal advisor at AIHRC, has expressed concern about the failure to provide justice in cases of violence against women. “There are cases of violence and human rights breach but the culprits have not been punished,” she states.
A 16-day countrywide campaign to raise awareness about women’s rights in situations of violence was launched on Nov 25 by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and other partners. Officials in the ministry claim much of the violence has happened in areas where security is a problem.
Sayeda Muzhgan Mostafawi, deputy women’s affairs minister, blames poverty, illiteracy and low levels of awareness of women’s rights for the rise of violence against women. The deputy minister said MoUs have been signed with non-governmental organisations to tackle the problem, but the ministry was not satisfied with progress made by civil society.
Mostafawi says, “We have signed nearly a hundred MoUs at province and district-level but the fact is that civil society groups have paid attention only in big cities and in the capital city. They have less attention in less developed provinces.”
Mohammad Elias Madani a member of Women’s Rights Institution, an NGO in Nangarhar, says, “I myself confess that the women’s rights organisations have problems. Most are not working in districts and villages and don’t focus on women’s problems.” He thinks forced marriages, the practice of bad (daughters are given in marriage as compensation to a family), and family violence have recently increased in most districts of Nangarhar province.
Women’s groups in Kandahar say they cannot function in insecure districts. Laila Afaq, a women’s rights activist in Kandahar, believes women’s rights groups must raise awareness at the district level also among men.
A law to eliminate violence against women, approved by President Hamid Karzai in 2009, is still waiting parliamentary approval.
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