The issue of violence against women in Afghanistan remains alarming as thousands of women become the victim of some sort of violence each year in the country. The Prosecution Office of Violence against Women announced a couple of days ago that it had registered more than 2,400 cases of violence against females during the outgoing year (Hijri Shamsi calendar). Of these cases 1375 were recorded in Kabul, 125 in Balkh, 250 in Herat, 116 in Nangarhar, 17 in Logar, 80 in Kapisa, 28 in Samangan, 31 in Bamyan, 37 in Jawzjan provinces and the remaining incidents happened in Ghor, Panjsher, Sar-i-Pul, Maidan Wardak, Paktia, Nimroz, Farah, Parwan and Badakhshan provinces. Though the numbers show a decline in the recorded cases as compared to last year wherein 3,500 cases of violence against women were recorded, they are still very high and alarming. It is also important to note that these numbers do not include all the incidences of violence against women and it is more tragic to know that only few of these cases are referred to the courts for follow-up.
Another major point of concern is the fact that there has not been speedy justice in response to the cases of violence against women. The cases that are brought to the law enforcement agencies are not pursued with proper vigor and determination and the result is that the culprits easily get away with their crimes. If the culprits are caught on time and they are brought to justice this will give a very clear message and will enhance the confidence of the people on the justice system.
This can also be helpful in encouraging those victims who never go the law enforcement agencies to file their complaints against different types of violence that are carried out against them. Nevertheless, their experiences have shown to them that their tribal norms and values and the draconian code of conduct that rule over their society stand more powerful than the hold of the justice that can be provided to them through the police or court of law.
One of the most basic demands of justice is that the people should be provided justice on time. It is believed that a justice delayed is a justice denied; therefore, the government machinery should be reliable and speedy enough to ensure such a justice. Moreover, it is also imperative that it should be easy for the victims to knock at the doors of the institutions that provide justice. If they feel comfortable and they are provided a welcoming attitude, they will rush to such institutions and will also develop a positive attitude towards government and its institutions.
Most of the women have complaints that they are harassed by the authorities who are supposed to provide them justice. If they opt to go the police they have to face a discriminating attitude of the authorities in most of the cases. In many other cases, police does not have the required access and authority in many of the remote areas. Several times it has been observed that the women who want to complain against any sort of violence or discrimination reach to Kabul city to do so. As they know that their voice will not be heard in their own area. This sort of inconvenience plays a major role in discouraging women to turn to police or court of law.
Currently, there was an emphasis that the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law has not been implemented because of unfamiliarity of most of the people about it but one of the major aspects of the failure of the law is the absence of institutional mechanism to ensure proper implementation of such law. Police is not present in all parts of country. In so many districts they are present only to overlook security incidents as a whole. Moreover, the presence and role of local police have also hindered the role and performance of formal police.
Same is the case with the role and presence of formal courts. Most of the remote districts have their own courts based on Jirga or Shariah. These sorts of courts do not necessarily follow the EVAW law or do not consider it suitable for their tribal setup. Most of the cases of violence against women that are pursued are because of the media, NGO’s and civil society. Thus, it can said without any hesitation that the institutional deficiencies have incapacitated the law to have its desired outcomes. And, this has resulted in continuation of incidents of violence against women.
The incidents of violence against women will keep on occurring unless, the justice system, strengthened by strong and authoritative institutions, take tangible actions against the culprits. The criminals always take advantage of the justice system that is lethargic and an inefficient justice system would keep on creating more and more criminals. Therefore, it is important for Afghan authorities to divert attention towards institution building for providence of justice to all the people of country, particularly women who are treated as a weaker stratum. If a justice system is not able to protect the most vulnerable and the weakest, it cannot be believed to be based neither on democracy nor on basic teachings of Islam.