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UN: Little Justice For Abused, Slain Women In Afghanistan

FILE: An Afghan women protest
FILE: An Afghan women protest

A UN report says violence against Afghan women, including honor killings, often goes unpunished despite state efforts to prosecute such crimes.

The UN Human Rights Office and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a May 29 report that the use of mediation in cases of violence against women often ends in alleged criminal suspects not facing trial and receiving no punishment.

UNAMA said victims were often pressured into agreeing to mediation, a practice that is widely used by community leaders and local and regional councils to resolve conflicts.

"The wide use of mediation when a woman or girl has been beaten, mutilated, or murdered, or when she has been the victim of that awful concept of 'honor killing,' normalizes such violence and makes it much more likely to recur," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said.

He added that such practices also eroded "the confidence of women -- and the wider public -- in the legal system."

The report -- Injustice And Impunity: Mediation Of Criminal Offenses Against Women -- evaluated 237 documented cases of violence against women between August 2015 and December 31, 2017; 280 cases of murder and "honor killings" in 2016 and 2017, and discussions with some 1,826 mediators.

The report also describes the experience of women who underwent mediation after originally filing a complaint with the authorities.

Many women who were interviewed for the report spoke of intense pressure from family and community members to agree to mediation, while others said they preferred mediation because of perceived faults in the justice system, including allegations of corruption.

Mediation was also valued because it resulted in a quick resolution of the complaint.

"The report's findings, including details indicating unchecked impunity in 'honor killings' and the murder of women, signals that justice for Afghan women victims of violence remains severely inadequate," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.

"The government has taken concrete steps to establish measures for accountability, and our report recognizes this, but the reality is that brutal violence against women continues to take place," Yamamoto said.

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