Women's Rights

Afghanistan vows to reduce violence against women

By AFP and Staff


Afghan and international marathoners on November 4 race past the destroyed Buddha statues in Bamiyan Province. The Taliban blew up the statues in March 2001. The annual race is Afghanistan's only mixed-gender sporting contest. [WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP]

KABUL -- A number of Afghan ministries on November 24 signed an agreement that aims to eliminate violence against women, AFP reported.

The Afghan attorney general's office recorded more than 3,700 cases of violence against women in the first eight months of 2016, compared to 5,000 cases recorded in the whole of 2015.

"We are seeking ways to co-operate and for an effective and lawful fight against the existence of violence against women in the country," Attorney General Farid Hamidi said at the signing ceremony among his office and four ministries at the presidential palace in Kabul.

The Afghan government is determined to fight corruption and combat violence against women in the country, he said. The campaign was launched on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Determination to confront the problem

"Unfortunately, violence against women is on the rise," Maleha Hassan, deputy attorney general, told reporters in Kabul.

"The situation is getting worse," she said, calling it "shocking and disappointing".

Gender equality in Afghanistan has improved somewhat since coalition forces toppled the hard-line Taliban regime in 2001. Women -- particularly from cities -- have taken up professional jobs and hold more than a quarter of all seats in parliament, according to AFP.

President Ashraf Ghani has also pledged to place women's rights at the top of his agenda, but major challenges remain as they continue to suffer oppression and abuse, including forced marriages and child marriages. In March 2015, for example, a 27-year-old woman known as Farkhunda was beaten to death in Kabul after being falsely accused of blasphemy, a case that became a symbol of the endemic violence that women still face.

Militant killings of women

Citizens often report cases of militant violence against women in Jawzjan Province, provincial police chief Abdul Hafiz Khashi said. In October, militants killed two locals, including a woman, in Aqcha District, he added.

"Militants are oppressing women, and they don't even let them go to school or work," he said.

Insurgents on a motorcycle fatally shot at least three women in Herat Province about two weeks ago, Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told Salaam Times.

"The main motive behind the murders is to show the people that they will not let women study or work freely," he said.

Authorities are searching for the perpetrators and seeking to defeat the militants who oppress women, he said, adding that militants do not want women to enjoy any sort of freedom. Authorities will take immediate action to protect women, he told Salaam Times.

"They have suffered enough," he said. "If we don't do anything, they will continue suffering because of those militants [Taliban] in Afghanistan," he added.

[Izazullah contributed to this report from Kabul.]

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