Afghan Women Demand Equal Rights For Women in Constitution

Female delegates attending Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga succeeded in winning an agreement to replace the words “citizens of Afghanistan” with the expression “women and men” in one of the articles in the Constitution regarding education. The current draft lacks language that defines “citizens” as both women and men. According to Eurasia Net, female delegates are hoping that the replacement of “Afghan citizens” with “Afghan men and women” will be made throughout the constitution.

A female delegate from the Balkh Province is urging that an article on women’s rights be added to the constitution as well as a provision to ban trafficking of women. The current draft of the constitution leaves women’s rights in many areas vulnerable to interpretation of Islam. In addition, it does not contain language to protect women from forced marriage, early marriage, or protect women’s property rights.

Meanwhile, the lack of security in Afghanistan was highlighted today when two rockets hit Kabul as delegates gathered to continue debate on the new constitution, reports the Associated Press. According to the New York Times, the United States recently announced that they will expand the provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) into the south and southeast of the country. While the focus of these teams is supposed to be security, the teams include only 50-70 personnel and PRTs are not allowed to intervene to prevent human rights violations or to keep peace between rival factions. Women’s rights and human rights organizations have argued that deployment of more PRTs with their current size and mandate are not an adequate response to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the continued widespread human rights violations and should not be considered a replacement for full-scale expansion of international peacekeeping forces throughout the country.

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Eurasia Net 12/21/03; New York Times 12/21/03; Associated Press 12/21/03

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