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Time to do more

The Taliban are no more in power, but Afghan women are still caught in the cobweb of centuries-old and outdated social norms. There is no end in sight to miseries of girls and women despite high claims of leaders about democracy and institutionalizing in the past over 13 years. They are denied the right to education and access basic healthcare facilities by their own family members, in most parts of the country, emergency cases are exception. Indeed, this approach with high-handedness to prevent girls from becoming active part of the society is responsible for high illiteracy, child and maternal mortality rate. Number of policewomen, female soldiers, doctors, engineers, and technicians is significantly fewer than those of the neighboring countries. But, sadly number of female addicts and criminals is not so low because they are kept away from education.

Political and social environment for girls and women in the country is not so favorable. In the capital city some voices could be heard but in remote provinces even the state officials are concerned over their safety. Unfortunately, the so-called few elites who are having good jobs and positions in the administration and opened NGOs have turned Kabul City into hub of activities but failed to do the same in provinces. That’s why as many as 4,873 cases of violence against women were reported last year. In 2013 at least 6,611 cases of violence were reported while 5,701cases were registered in 2012 by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Most of the cases were about physical violence, especially beating. Out of the total 4,874 reported cases 1,268 were related to physical assault. Around 412 cases were related to sexual violence. Due to the widespread violence 19 women lost their lives while 11 cases were about chopping off of a body part of wife.

Not only women but their rights champions are also threatened of dire consequences by the state and non-state actors. Showing a bleak picture about women’s rights situation, Amnesty International recently reported that women’s rights defenders are threatened constantly by the insurgents, warlords and even government officials. Their family members are killed and they are assassinated as well as targeted in car bombing and grenade attacks. Unfortunately, most of the violators are still at large. Since 2009 the Afghan government has been successful in prosecuting only one out of 50 different cases. The report also highlights gray areas in our legal system. Though, the government has been requested repeatedly in the past six years to plug the loopholes in the country’s judicial system but went in vain as the law on elimination of violence against women is still in doldrums. There is need for laws to safeguard women’s rights.

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