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Campaign to end violence against women kicked off

AT-KABUL: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN Women on Friday kicked off sixteen-day nationwide campaign against gender based violence.

Launching the campaign “16 Days of Activism” the UN Women and UNAMA called for result-oriented national and international action by every member of the society to end violence against women.

“November 25 is the first of 16 consecutive days aimed at ending violence against women and is the key time to raise awareness on the causes and consequences of gender-based violence and provoke action to end all forms of violence against women,” UNAMA said.

The UN assistance mission and UN Women in collaboration with Afghan women activists would demand end to the prevailing discriminatory attitudes towards women which has prevented the country from development.

“The 16 Days campaign is a direct appeal to every woman, man, boy and girl to create positive changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviors toward women,” the assistant mission said. The campaign will include media roundtables, theater performances and storytelling competitions and other advocacy activities as part of the shared efforts supporting the development and implementation of legislation, policies and programs addressing violence against women.

“It is essential that Afghan women and girls can fully exercise their freedom and contribute to the building of the nation, without the threat of physical harm,” said Pernille Kardel, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. “The public outcry about violence against Afghan women must lead to concrete social and legal change that protects and empowers women and girls,” said Kardel, who is also acting head of UNAMA.

UN Women Afghanistan Country Representative, Elzira Sagynbaeva, said the most effective way to stop violence against women is to prevent it from occurring in the first place through laws and new social norms. “We need to champion respectful relationships and promote women as nothing short of equal members of society. The only way we can achieve this is through long-term, sustainable efforts at all levels in society, working with everyone from individual women and girls, to men and boys, and to religious and community leaders,” she said.

For many Afghans, the campaign will not produce the desired results if it was not extended to remote areas of the country. Ministry of Women’s Affairs has recorded 600 cases of violence against women in the first quarter of this year across the country. According to the ministry insecurity is the main factor that impeded the anti-violence programs for women.

On November 25, 2015, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) revealed in its report that cases of women’s killings had doubled in the past six months as compared to the same period of last year.  The commission documented 190 murder cases. “Perpetrators of 51 murder cases were arrested and the remaining 139 [73 percent] are on the run. The commission did not record the mentioned cases but it was documented by supporting and expanding women’s rights section,” the report said.

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