Afghan women judges who presided over abuse cases are being threatened by the Taliban. Currently, their lives and the lives of their families are in danger, as members of the Taliban are tracking down and killing women justices for their commitment to gaining justice for women survivors.
There are currently more than 200 women judges in Afghanistan, and many are in hiding, according to the International Association of Women Judges.
Officials from the Taliban have searched for and found the judges’ personal information, and in some cases have had their bank accounts frozen.
“The women judges of Afghanistan are under threat for applying the law,” stated Susan Glazebrook, president of the judges’ association. “They are under threat because they have made rulings in favor of women according to law in family violence, custody and divorce cases.”
“They are women who had the effrontery to sit in judgement on men”, she said. “Women judging men is an anathema to the Taliban”.
Since the Taliban’s power rose again in August, they have instituted draconian restrictions on women, prohibiting them from school and many from work.
Prior to the Taliban’s takeover, almost 300 women judges served in the country’s justice system. Specific courts, police units, and prosecution offices were created to manage cases dealing with violence against women, an issue that plagued the country and the world.
Domestic violence is so rampant in Afghanistan that some survivors have had to kill their husbands to protect themselves and their children.
One judge, Najiba, said she has seen hundreds of cases of violence against women, including rape, murder, torture, and domestic abuse. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has reported 3,477 cases of violence against women in the first 10 months of 2020.
Many of the former judges have been threatened and beaten by men demanding to know the whereabouts of the victims who had been granted justice or safety in their courts. “We have lost everything — our jobs, our homes, the way we lived — and we are terrified,” said Wahida, 28, a former judge.
A former lawyer for victims of domestic abuse, Behista, said that she has not left her home in Kabul since the Taliban takeover in August.
“I lost my job, and now my whole family is at risk, not just me,” Behista said.
Sources: New York Times 10/20/21; Al Jazeera 10/25/21; New York Times 8/17/21; Al Jazeera 10/18/21