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79 cases recorded as conflict-related sexual violence surges: AIHRC

AT News Report

KABUL: The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on Wednesday reported of escalation in sexual violence and abuse in war fields, recording a total of 79 conflict-related sexual violence cases in 2018 alone.

As June 19th marks the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the AIHRC’s women’s support unit head, Latifa Sultani, said of the 79 sexual violence cases some occurred in conflict zones while most of the cases weren’t being registered.

She said the so-called Islamic State or Daesh terrorist group was responsible for the majority of these cases in conflict.

“Daesh after taking over an area attempt to abuse and harass women as their first and foremost action. We interviewed a 14-year-old victim of sexual violence by Daesh. Another woman in the east said she was sexually assaulted by Daesh fighters four times.”

The main victims of these wartime crimes are women and children. According to AIHRC, the sexual violence during war amounts to war crimes.

Sultani alleged that in addition to insurgents, the government forces were also complicit in sexual abuse in conflict. “We have some specific cases where Afghan Local Police commit such crimes and local strongmen abuse women and children.”

Attempts to have comments from the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Nasrat Rahimi, in this regard proved futile.

Accusing security forces of sexual violence in conflict comes as the Law on Prohibition of Harassmentagainst Women and Children was enforced in 2017. This law outlines how to prohibit violence against women and children and stipulates the relevant punishment and cash penalties for violators.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense said there had been no case of sexual violence in conflict registered by the Afghan National Army.

Zubair Arif, the ministry spokesman, said that military remained committed to observing Islamic and applicable laws of the country. “There are no sexual abuse issues in ANA. We assure you that our security forces are well aware of Islamic and Afghan laws and obey the principles of war.”

The continuation of war and insecurity, lack of rule of law, illegal presence and functioning of strongmen and warlords, poverty, illiteracy and lack of awareness regarding human rights are cited as the main reasons behind sexual violence during war.

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