Congress and International Organizations Urge Women’s Rights and Security

At a House hearing on Afghanistan and its draft constitution, several members of Congress, administration officials, and representatives of international organizations pressed for more protections for women’s rights in the constitution and security in Afghanistan. The Assistant Secretary of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor the State Department Lorne Craner stated, “though the draft makes wide provision for the equal rights of all citizens before the law, the draft does not include a definition of who is a citizen, and does not state that both men and women are citizens.” Craner also stated that “more specifics need to be mentioned, such as outlawing discrimination against women, forced and underage marriages, full rights of marriage, divorce, and inheritance for women so that their rights are preserved and protected from possible extremist interpretations.”

T. Kumar, Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International USA, stated that he found it shocking to see that there is “no mention of women’s rights” in the current draft of the constitution. Kumar and Representative Rohrabacher (R-CA) also expressed concerns that “citizen” is not defined as both male and female Afghans to ensure equal access to rights. In fact, Rohrabacher went on to say that the constitution needs to have a bill of rights that ensure that “women have equal rights.”

Amnesty International USA recommended that the Bush Administration increase its financial assistance to rebuild Afghanistan with earmarks for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and the Judicial Commission.

The Vice President of the International Crisis Group and Amnesty International USA urged the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) size and mandate to keep Afghanistan from becoming a failed state.

LEARN MORE Find out how the Bush Administration is graded on Afghanistan in the latest Global Women’s Issues Scorecard

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House International Relations Committee Hearing on Afghanistan 11/19/03

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