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AI Says Afghan Government Fails To Protect Female Activists

Afghan civil society activist women weep and lie on the grave of Afghan woman Farkhunda, 27, who was lynched by an angry mob in central Kabul last month.

Amnesty International (AI) says the Afghan government has failed to protect female activists, leaving them vulnerable to threats, sexual assault, and assassination.

In a report released on April 7, the London-based rights watchdog said most of the threats come from the Taliban and armed opposition groups but that government officers and warlords also commit abuses against female activists.

AI said the report, Their Lives On The Line, was based on interviews with more than 50 female activists and their relatives all around the country.

The rights group said that despite legal protections Afghan women's rights workers who do report violence or attacks are put at further risk simply for speaking out.

AI said it found that Afghan authorities consistently failed to act on threats against women.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary-general, said out of the 50 cases that AI examined, in only one instance was an arrest made.

In all the other cases, complaints were neglected or ignored by the authorities.

AI urged Afghan authorities to ensure that all allegations of threats or attacks against women rights activists are fully and impartially investigated and perpetrators held to account.

The report says the international community is "doing far too little" to preserve hard-won gains Afghan women have made in the past decade.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women have made significant advances in rights, with millions of girls and women gaining access to education, health care, and work.

President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in September 2014, has pledged to ensure that women's rights are respected.

But women in Afghanistan are still generally regarded as inferior to men and treated as such.

Girls are still married off to older men and sold to settle debts. In rural areas, women who work outside the home face threats simply because they dare to work.

A 27-year-old woman was beaten to death by a mob in Kabul on March 19 after she was falsely accused of burning a copy of the Koran.

Policemen in the area reportedly did nothing to stop the attack.

In February, female politician Angiza Shinwari died following a bomb attack on her vehicle in eastern Nangarhar Province.

Lawmaker and rights campaigner Shukriya Barekzai narrowly survived a suicide attack in Kabul last year.

With reporting by AFP and AP