Afghan Women's Network

Afghan Women's Network

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth in Kabul to launch new report on imprisonment of women and girls for “moral crimes”

Translation in Dari will be available.


Human Rights Watch will on Wednesday, 28 March at 2012 launch a new report on Afghanistan. “I had to run away: Women and girls imprisoned for ‘moral crimes’ in Afghanistan,” is based on 58 interviews conducted in prisons and juvenile detention facilities with women and girls accused of “moral crimes.”


The fall of the Taliban government promised a new era of women’s rights, but ten years later serious challenges remain for Afghan women. This report discusses the imprisonment of women and girls for the “moral crimes” of “running away” (fleeing home without permission) and zina (sex outside of marriage). Running away is not a crime under Afghan law, but the Supreme Court has instructed that it be treated as one. Zina is a crime under the Afghan Penal Code and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.


Nearly 400 Afghan women and girls are currently imprisoned for these “crimes,” which are often a consequence of flight from forced marriage or domestic violence. Women and girls are given long sentences for these “crimes,” while their abusers walk free – in spite of the 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women that made acts including underage marriage, forced marriage and domestic violence crimes.

Kenneth Roth has been the director of Human Rights Watch since 1993. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch in 1987, Roth served as a federal prosecutor in New York and for the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington. A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Roth has conducted numerous human rights investigations and missions around the world. He has written extensively on a wide range of human rights abuses, devoting special attention to issues of international justice, counterterrorism, the foreign policies of the major powers, and the work of the United Nations.


Mr. Roth will provide an overview of the new Human Rights Watch report on “moral crimes” and its recommendations. He will be available to answer questions on the report as well as on other human rights issues and Human Rights Watch’s work in Afghanistan. He will be available for media interviews.


Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s most prominent human rights NGOs and is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. Working in 90 countries, we stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. We challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.


Human Rights Watch is an international organization with staff in more than 40 countries, and offices in Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Goma, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Nairobi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, Tunis, Washington DC, and Zurich.


For more information or to arrange an interview with Mr. Roth, please contact Heather Barr at +93 700283657, +93 796520841, or In Dari, you may contact Zaman Sultani at +93 775354321 or