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Robust efforts require ending sexual, gender-based violence

AT News Report

KABUL: Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, and the start of 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, the UN in Afghanistan has called on the Government and the Afghan people to further efforts to end sexual and gender-based violence, including impunity for these crimes.

This year’s theme –“Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”– focuses on supporting and amplifying voices of survivors and advocates for an end to sexual violence and rape, the agency said in a statement on Monday.

In times of peace or conflict, sexual and gender-based violence, including harassment, assault and rape, occur. Such violence affects the full scope of a woman’s human rights and leads to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, stigma and trauma.

“We hear the strong voice of Afghan women survivors. Notwithstanding the risks and challenges to their safety, including within their own communities, they stand up to advocate for an end to sexual and gender-based violence. We must stand alongside them,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) “Ongoing impunity and the pervasive normalization of sexual and gender-based violence must end.”

The UN acknowledges efforts by the Government, particularly the Attorney-General’s Office, to hold the perpetrators of sexual assault and rape to account. Doing so sends the signal that such behavior is criminal and unacceptable. Such work also builds survivors’ and public confidence in the justice system, critical for Afghanistan to achieve sustainable development and peace.

Afghanistan has made a strong commitment to women’s human rights, including under Sustainable Development Goal No.5 on Gender Equality and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

“Afghan women and girls, however, continue to experience widespread violations of their human rights and persistent violence, including through the impact of the conflict and gender inequality. While progress has been made, including increases in the number of women prosecutors and judges, much work remains,” said Aleta Miller, Country Representative of UN-Women in Afghanistan. We acknowledge the ongoing review of the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and hope that it will lead to a further strengthening of the legal framework. We call on the Government to redouble its efforts to fully implement the Law and end impunity for violent crimes against women and girls.”

Over the last 12 months, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Attorney General’s Office, Afghanistan National Police, Supreme Court and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission documented cases of alleged violence against women and girls, including murders, honour killings, sexual assaults, rapes, beatings and underage marriages.

This year, the UN, through UN Women, is pioneering the primary prevention of violence against women and girls through evidence-based interventions, to transform harmful social norms, as well as deepening comprehensive and coordinated efforts to improve referral pathways and the provision of essential services for survivors of violence.

The UN stands in solidarity with women civil society organizations and all other partners advocating for the full scope of women’s rights.

During the 16 Days Campaign, the Afghan government, supported by the UN, intensifies its advocacy and awareness-raising activities to addresses violence against women and girls. The campaign runs until 10 December, International Human Rights Day.

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