Afghan Activist and Former MP Seeks Asylum

Noor Zia Atmar, one of the first female members of parliament in Afghanistan and an outspoken leader for women’s rights in the country, has requested asylum after fleeing from her abusive husband.

Atmar was in office from 2005 to 2010 and championed reforms to benefit Afghan women and girls. However, after fleeing from an abusive husband and being disowned by her family, Atmar has lived in a shelter for the past two years. Now she has requested asylum, citing that she is no longer welcome in her home country.

“Women are in a worse condition now. Every day they are being killed, having their ears, noses cut. It is not just women in villages – it is also people like me,” Atmar told the Sunday Telegraph. She elaborated to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “I was the victim of abuse. I had a very bitter life while I was with that man. He was getting drunk and hitting me every day. That was his routine. It reached the point where he threw a knife and other sharp objects at me. [That’s why] I’m currently in a women’s shelter.”

Atmar also fears what will happen to women like her if shelters are closed. Recently, the Parliament failed to pass the End Violence Against Women act (EVAW) when the decision was tabled. If EVAW had come to a vote and been rejected, it could have forced women’s shelters across the country to close their doors. “I’m worried that if these shelters close, my sisters [Afghan women] and I who have suffered from domestic violence won’t have anywhere to go. This is our worry,” she told reporters. “If a woman has had her arm or leg broken or has had her nose or ears cut off, should we throw them on the street? In the current situation in Afghanistan the shelters are the only places of refuge for women.” The British embassy has refused to grant Atmar asylum, citing that they do not give asylum for domestic violence alone.


Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty 8/13/2013; Daily Mail 8/11/2013; Telegraph 8/11/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/20/2013

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