By Habib Viqar
Human rights activists want the police and security forces to deliver to the law the perpetrators of violence against women.
Sima Samar, head of AIHRC (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission) says, "If police do not help as much there can be no justice. We (human rights organisations) only monitor the situation." Suraya Sobhrang of AIHRC says 3,000 cases of violence against women have been reported. "Unfortunately the violence has increased: forced marriage of girls, physical and psychological violence has increased day by day with many people killing their wives, sisters and daughters in the name of honour," she says.
Amnesty International has also expressed concern. Horia Mosadeq says Amnesty has requested the Afghan president to order investigations into incidents of violence against women.
Reports have been reached of incidents from different parts of the country. On Feb 11, a young couple who had eloped was killed in public in Wama district in Nuristan province. Zaheda, the head of women's affairs in Nuristan province says that Fateha (the woman) and Hedayatullah had surrendered to the police but their families attacked the district governor's office, took out the couple and killed them in public.
Hafez Abdul Qayoom, governor of Nuristan, says three police personnel were injured. "The people have seriously injured the police; the couple who were married was killed."
Before this a woman was killed by her husband in Badghis province. Zaher Bahand, spokesperson at the provincial governor's office, says a 24-year-old woman was hanged in Qadis district by her husband. "The man had brought his wife from his father in law's house. They started to quarrel, and the man hanged his wife, killing her."
A 20-year-old was died of knife injuries on Feb 2 in Bamyan province by unknown individuals. Mohammad Ali Lakzai, the head of security in the provincial police headquarters, says the girl was taken to hospital but died during treatment. No arrests have been made in the case.
No end to misogyny
Manizha, a 20-year old woman, who was beaten and tortured by her husband and his family. She was kept in a dark basement and forced to work in the cold. She said, “They punched and kicked me on my face. They tied my hands with a rope and beat me with chains, sticks and a whip. I spent days and weeks in the basement of the house with my hands and feet tied up. They forced me to work in the cold and snow.” (Photo: RAWA.org)
A man cut off the ears of his 23-year-old wife Zarina in Kushandai district in Balkh Jan 31. Zarina says she has always been careful not to provoke her husband into anger but it has not made the slightest difference. "My husband tied up my hands and legs. I begged and pleaded. He threatened to divorce me. 'I will divorce you; I will make you so ugly that no one can marry you', he said. He cut off my hair and both ears with a big knife," she says.
Zarina has been married since she was 13. Her father was dead, and her mother is disabled. Her husband doubted her character without reason, she says. He would not let her visit her father's house. Police in Kushandai district say that Zarina's husband has fled.
Earlier a twenty years old girl was killed in Khambil village of Yaftal Bala district of Badkhshan province by a Taleban commander called Mawlawi Saifullah in front of her family members only because they did not want the girl to marry Saifullah.
One day before this incident, armed Taleban killed another 20-year-old, Amirbegum, for "being immoral" at her father's house. Arefa Naweed, regional head of AIHRC in Badakhshan, says this is the seventh murder of a woman in the province. The districts of Yamagan, Wardooj, Shuhad and Yaftal Bala are under Taleban control and the AIHRC cannot meet the families of the victims here.
On Jan 23, a 16-year-old girl called Nasima killed herself in Qadis district in Badghis province. Zargoona Sherzad, head of women's affairs in Badghis, says the girl was due to be forced into marriage with her uncle by her father. Security officials have made three arrests in the case but the family of the girl has not commented so far.
There are reports from other provinces including Badghis, Jowzjan, Sar-e Pol and Rozgan. The list is endless but women's rights activists point out the conviction rate is abysmal in Afghanistan. Mahmooda Taqwa says, an activist says, "We are astonished the government has not been able in the past 16 years to prevent the violence against women. Even in Kabul women are beaten, girls are given as baad, and in most of the cases when the government arrests the culprits they have been released within day, and the families have faced more problems." Nafisa Selai, another activist, blames the government for making only empty promises. "If the law had been implemented on some people, the violence against women would have not been so much," she says.
Promise of justice
The Ministry of Women's Affairs has plans to increase programmes to raise public awareness about the protection of women and elimination of violence against them. Spogmai Wardak, deputy minister of women's affairs, says plans drawn up by the ministry have been forwarded to the executive to implement. "All executive organs have drawn up detailed plans for the implementation, which has been shared with us," she says. As an example she says the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs has signed a memorandum of understanding with her ministry to work jointly to spread awareness.
The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) has been pushing for justice for victims, Sidiq Sidiqi, the spokesperson says.