Afghan Women Still Suffer Violence, Abuse

Women in Afghanistan still face violence and abuse both within their families and at the hands of the police or judicial system, according to a new report from Amnesty International. The report, entitled Afghanistan: Women Under Attack, was based on interviews with women throughout Afghanistan and found that mistreatment is widespread and largely unpunished. This report came out just days after the murder of Shaima Rezayee, a television host who drew the ire of religious conservatives, and after the murders of three aid workers.

The author of the report, Nazia Hussein, stated that “a lot of women told us they had hoped things would change rapidly for the better after the overthrow of the Taleban, so there is a sense of disappointment,” according to BBC News. While there have been some improvements in the cities, women in rural areas continue to suffer, and suicides seem to have risen in response to domestic violence or forced marriage, reports Agence France-Presse. Sheila Dauer, Director of Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Human Rights Program explained in a press release that “resilient social customs that discriminate against women, combined with the lack of an effective criminal justice system, sometimes leave women no where to turn, so they use desperate measures like suicide as a means of escape.”

The Amnesty report calls on the government of Afghanistan to undertake an educational program promoting women’s rights, and asks the international community to support Afghanistan’s efforts to rebuild the country and create security for its citizens. Security was the primary concern of Jamilah Mujahed, director of a Kabul radio station called Voice of Women. Mujahed told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that “there are still irresponsible armed people in charge in Afghanistan’s provinces. They have power. And in such conditions, of course, the situation of women has not improved.”

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Agence France-Presse 5/25/05; Amnesty International Press Release 5/31/05; BBC News 5/30/05; Feminist Daily News 5/20/05; Feminist Daily News 5/25/05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty 5/30/05

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