UN Women, the United Nations agency committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment, condemned the recent intimidation and targeted killings of Afghan women government officials. Several prominent women have been intimidated, abducted, and killed – including Afghanistan’s most senior female police officer, Lieutenant Negar, who died on Monday after being shot by an unidentified gunman in Helmand.

“Recent cases of targeted killings point to the urgent need to guarantee women’s and girls’ rights as the Government of Afghanistan prepares for a full takeover from international forces and moved towards provincial and parliamentary elections,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “The empowerment of women and realization of their rights are fundamental to the reconstruction of Afghanistan so that women and men can take responsibility for the future development of their country.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay ending a visit to Kabul yesterday also expressed concern over pervasive violence against women in Afghanistan and called on the Afghan government to ensure enforcement and implementation of the 2009 Elimination of Violence against Women law (EVAW). The law criminalizes several acts of violence against women, including rape, forced self-immolation, physical abuse, child marriage, and human trafficking. A United Nations report, however, revealed only a small number of prosecutions.

Pillay also used her trip to Afghanistan to continue to call on President Hamid Karzai to reconsider his recent appointments to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). “I urge an extra effort by the President and his Government to ensure that the human rights gains of the past 12 years are not sacrificed to political expediency during the last few months before the election,” said Pillay. Karzai appointed five new commissioners to the AIHRC in June, including Mullah Abdul Rahman Hotak, a former Taliban leader opposed to women’s rights. Pillay emphasized, “The rights of women in particular must not be sacrificed, they must be particularly protected.”

Pillay further commented on the role of women in the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan, stating that “any peace process must be inclusive and just in order to be durable and lead to a stable Afghanistan and that means ensuring the full and active participation of women in all aspects of any peace process.”

Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 9/16/2013; UN Women Press Release 9/16/2013; UNAMA 9/17/2013; Relief Web 9/17/2013; Tolo News 9/17/2013

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