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Editorial: Failed democracy

When the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, Afghan people especially women were optimistic about their future. They were dreaming of a new dawn—better living standard and no fear of rights’ violation. They were hoping that their rights would not be violated any more because democracy promises rights’ protection. Afghan people were seeing democracy as solution to their problems. Several donors came forward to support human rights organizations and projects. The number of so-called activists doubled in the past decade. Some played their role in positive way while many failed badly to become voice of the voiceless people. There is no second opinion in it that Afghan women are among the voiceless folk despite having representation in the Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga—Lower and Upper houses of the parliament. May be female lawmakers are silenced by the male colleagues due to majority in the parliament but the female senators and MPs did not perform well when it comes to women’s rights protection.

If they were playing their role then Afghan women would have no fear of rights violation. There is no denying to the fact that girls and women in the country are living in terror because early and forced marriages are very common as the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission reported. Last year in November the commission documented 190 murder cases in six months—significant spike in the violence against women as compared to the same period in 2014. As many as 101 women were killed in the name of honor. The country’s human rights commission recorded 2,579 cases of violence which demonstrated 7.39 percent increase.

The figures are shocking. The government had failed in taming the beast of violence against women by approving the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women from the parliament. The lawmakers have made the law controversial. The leaders have also turned a blind eye to this serious issue. If the executive and legislature had shown interest in the law, girls would have not been forced to marry at teenage. Death of Zahra, a resident of Ghor province, proved the failed democratic system in the country and inattention of the concerned organizations. At the age of 13, Zahra was forced by her father to marry. She succumbed to burn injuries in a hospital in the capital city as over 90 percent of her body was burnt. Zahra’s father blamed her in-laws for the death.

From a logical point of view, both her father and in-laws are responsible for her death. She was married at young age and without her consent. The act is illegal. The society is also responsible for her death because we are not ready to bury the obsolete traditions.  All three pillars of the state are also accountable.

Violence against women and girls will continue until the society embraces positive change. It will continue until the government drafts a comprehensive law and the parliament approves it. It will continue until the judiciary expedites proceedings in violence cases.

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