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Violence Against Women On The Rise In Afghanistan

FILE: Afghan civil society activist women weep and lie on the grave of Afghan woman Farkhunda, 27, who was lynched by an angry mob, at the cemetery in central Kabul in March 2015.
FILE: Afghan civil society activist women weep and lie on the grave of Afghan woman Farkhunda, 27, who was lynched by an angry mob, at the cemetery in central Kabul in March 2015.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An advocacy group campaigning for promoting women’s rights in Afghanistan says violence against women is on the rise in the country.

The Afghan Women’s Network says a recent spikesex in the reported cases of violence against women shows they are not safe anywhere in the country and are subject to rising violence and atrocities.

The group says it recorded seven cases of severe violence against women in various Afghan provinces last week.

According to a statement by Afghan Women’s Network, the rise is worrying despite existing legal protections and a robust women’s rights campaign by civil society organizations.

Nilofar Sherzad, in charge of advocacy at the Afghan Women’s Network, wants the Afghan government to be more proactive about protecting women from violence and abuse.

“We want the government to implement the existing laws and end the culture of impunity for offenders,” she said. “We want the security institutions to arrest the offenders. We want the office of the attorney general and the special courts for addressing the violence against women to vigorously pursue cases to fully implement the law on violence against women.”

Afghan Women’s Network says recent reported cases of violence against women show that strong patriarchal structures spur the prevalence of misogyny, which often leads to violence.

The seven cases reported by the group make for a depressing reading. Most cases involve violence by male relatives. The husband of Zarina, 23, chopped off both of her ears after an argument in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif. In the northern province of Badghis, Nasima was shot to death by her father for an alleged illicit relationship with her cousin. Masooma, a resident of a remote violence in northeastern Badakhshan Province, died on her way to the hospital after being beaten by her husband. He was later arrested by local police.

In some cases, women are at the receiving end of what appears to be random violence. In the central province of Bamiyan, Parveen, 20, was knifed to death by unknown attackers after attending a literacy course. Yasmeen was raped more than 20 times after being abducted by unknown men in the northern province of Kunduz two months ago. She was freed last week and now lives in a shelter.

Some of the most horrific violence against women is being carried out in the Taliban-controlled rural regions. The insurgents are now estimated to control or contest a third of Afghanistan where one-third of the country’s estimated 30 million people live.

Last week the Afghan Women’s Network documented two horrific incidents involving the Taliban. The insurgents killed Amir Begum in Badakhshan’s Yamgan district after accusing her of debauchery. In another incident 23-year-old Bek Bibi was killed in the region’s Yaftal district after refusing a marriage proposal from local Taliban commander, Mawlavi Safiullah.

In Kabul, the Afghan Women’s Affairs Ministry too is alarmed by the rise in violence against women. Last month it recorded 30 cases of women being killed in the name of honor in eight Afghan provinces.

Kubra Razaee, a senior official in the ministry says they are doing whatever they can to address violence against women.

“We are adamant to follow up on all cases of violence against women so we can create a safe environment for women,” she told Radio Free Afghanistan. “We intend to fulfill the government promises and are working with the judiciary and the law enforcement to address violence against women.”

According to global rights watchdog Human Rights Watch, Kabul is still far from implementing its National Action Plan for Women’s Peace and Security.

“As of November 2016, the government had not finalized a budget for the implementation plan,” noted the group’s annual report, released late last month.

Abubakar Siddique wrote this based on reporting by Radio Free Afghanistan Kabul correspondents, Arzo Ghiasi, and Khan Mohammad Seend.