Woman Delegate Protests Selection of Committee Chairmen

Protesting the selection of male commanders as committee chairs at the Loya Jirga in Afghanistan, a female delegate argued on the floor of the Loya Jirga that these mujahadeen fighters brought war to Afghanistan and should be tried in international courts. Malalai Joya, a delegate from the Farah Province, asked the Loya Jirga why they selected as committee chairmen “those criminals who have brought these disasters for the Afghan people,” according to the Associated Press. According to Agence France Presse, dozens of angry mujahadeen delegates stood up and rushed the stage shouting,”Allah akbar” (God is great) and demanded her expulsion.

Women delegates protested earlier this week arguing that their male colleagues are trying to shut them out of leadership positions and that the men treat the women like second-class citizens.

The Loya Jirga is meeting in Afghanistan to debate the current draft of the constitution. The draft does not contain provisions that adequately protect women’s rights and human rights. Women’s rights and human rights advocates are worried that even the limited rights guaranteed in the current draft of the constitution may be negotiated away in an attempt to win votes for a strong presidential system. According to Agence France Presse, formal debates on the 160-article constitution have yet to begin.

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Associated Press 12/17/03; Agence France Presse 12/17/03; BBC News12/17/03

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