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As, we celebrate the International Day of Ending Violence against Women, Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) emphasizes on the positive and negative aspects of addressing violence against women in Afghanistan. This year, we join the 16 Days of Activism Campaign and call for an end to early and forced marriages in Afghanistan.
In the past 12 years, there has been widespread progress made in the lives of women in Afghanistan. To mention few, Elimination of Violence against Women Law (EVAW) for the first time addresses domestic violence as a social challenge rather than a domestic issue. The EVAW Law since 2009 has been under full implementation. There are several examples of women victims of violence, where perpetrators are brought into trial. On July 2013, the police in the northeastern Afghanistan, arrested the Mullah, who issued a Fatwa to execute a woman for accused adultery where she was killed. This is considered a positive step towards rule of law and bringing justice and avoiding implementation of informal justice that reinforces violence against women. Afghan civil society especially men and youth engagement has increased to address violence against women. Their participation in One Billion Rising Campaign and Peaceful March for Ending Street Harassment have been an indication of their support for a society with justice and equality for all.
In spite of all the above positive steps, the challenges still remain. Based on Afghan Women’s Network Rapid Response Unit, since May 2012, 860 cases of severe violence against women were recorded. These cases include Murder, Kidnapping, Rape, Physical Violence, Emotional Abuse, Preventing Access to Personal Property and Education and other domestic problems. Among these 302 registered cases are only for under aged marriage and divorce. Early Marriages and Forced Marriages have turned as part of negative cultural and traditional practices, which mostly ends to divorce. In the last two weeks several cases of violence against women occurred. 17 years old Shakila from Baghlan province, was shot on her face by her husband, whereas Police Chief of Baghlan province in an interview with Tolo News said “Shakila shot herself and her husband is not guilty”.
Afghan Women’s Network calls on Afghan government, Religious Leaders, Civil Society and International partners to take serious measures to prevent violence against women, strengthen rule of law and access to justice for women and support systems that enable’s women to enjoy violence free environment to their full human rights. We emphasize on Afghan government’s national and international commitments’ practical implementation such as EVAW Law and Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
We call upon International Community’s long terms commitments through sustainable programs to end violence against women in Afghanistan in order to enable their full participation in all spheres of life.