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Editorial: Violations right under the police’s nose

Indeed, gains of the Afghan women over the past 20 years have been promising and crucial, yet fragile with their implementation erratic more often than not. The Taliban have so far been harshly criticized for their treatment of women during their regime as they used to deny girls access to schools and women to work outside their homes. Although that situation might have somewhat improved, the Afghan women still face violence in one way or another under the democratic rule. Now that the Afghan negotiating teams are sitting together in Doha for the first time to try to find a peaceful end to the decades of relentless war in Afghanistan, Afghan women have vacillating apprehensions and desires regarding the talks’ outcome. It’s because violence against them still continues unabated and on top of that, fear about the return of the Taliban regime further complicates the issue. Recently, video footage showed that two women were attacked twice and beaten on a broad daylight in the heart of Afghanistan – capital Kabul – by bodyguards (supposedly associated with 1st VP Amrullah Saleh) and that too right under policemen’s nose. This is indeed a disturbing incident; beating and insulting women in front of police in Kabul is an unacceptable act and should be seriously investigated. Islamic teachings and revered Afghan culture don’t allow women’s beating in any case, let alone publicly. This is just a case in point about women’s situation who are going through such problems on a daily basis – but not all reports are covered and released to the media. The barbaric act by such people undermines and tarnishes the good work the Afghan security forces are doing in terms of securing people’s lives. But again such strongmen – and people who think they are above the law – indulge in violations because they believe they are impervious to law enforcement and think that they won’t be brought to book. Meanwhile, a recent warning issued by the US Embassy to Kabul informed that some extremist groups are planning attacks against a “variety of targets” but are taking particular aim at women. According to the embassy, female government and civilian workers, including teachers, human rights activists, office workers, and government employees were at heightened risks. On one hand, Afghan women endure the repercussions of war and such threats, and on the other, they are faced with this other big issue – that of domestic and embedded-in-society violence which is analogous to war, if not the same. At this juncture, such warnings and classified investigations won’t suffice; there have been many probes launched – where the identities of the violators had also been concealed – in the past but there haven’t been any tangible results. The perpetrators should be brought to justice and an example set for the rest; and thus, the calls for protecting the rights of women translated into practice.

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