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ED: Violence against women: Not natural hazard

Most of the Afghan masses often woke up to the news of violence against women, giving an inauspicious start of the week for the women and girls as even some reports of violence go unreported—a very irritating trend that has to be ended as soon as possible. Surely, violence against women—particularly intimate partner violence and sexual harassment and other sort of violence—is a major problem not only in Afghanistan but to the world as well and a clear violation of women’s human rights. It has to be realized that violence against women is not only a women’s issue. Men have to boldly work alongside women to combat this extreme form of gender discrimination. Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. It is very clear that violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health and their capabilities. Moreover, the United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. So today (Saturday) was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, so on this precious occasion we raise our voice collectively and say violence must be stopped right now. Afghanistan also marked this day with 16 days of activities aimed at ending violence against women and girls. Women and girls in Afghanistan still face violence and this happens regardless of social background, whether at home, at work, at school, in the streets, and the most deadly one is the honor killing. Child and forced marriages is another form of violence and the annoying fact is that even in the developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. According to the newly-published report by the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan, the level of violence against women remains the same 3,778 cases of violence recorded throughout the year. This number includes 231 cases of murder, 1,003 cases of beating and 38 cases of rape. There is huge violence against women and girl in Afghanistan, but at the same time the combined efforts of the government, the international community and local civil society organization led to substantial progress for women and girls, including in education, political participation and their increasing economic role. We understand that the National Unity Government is committed to women’s empowerment, eradicating violence against them, and strongly believes in equal rights of women. Certainly, if we want durable peace and prosperity, we must have huge role of women in all areas; otherwise we remain poor society as we are today. Beside the government, it is our responsibility to run public awareness campaigns and mobilizing people to bring about change to end violence against women and girls across the country.

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