Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Violence against women

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Violence against women

In spite of copious legal achievements, the violence against women is broadly increasing. According to recent reports, 80% of women are faced with various types of violence. According to Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the suicide rate for women has been enlarging within last years. Now, more than 2000 women commit suicide in a year which form the 90% suicides committed in Afghanistan. The enlarging figure is a sign of a silent crisis in the country that require multilateral studies and deeper attention.
Likewise, a large number of women are isolated at homes due to excessive street harassment in the country. It is said that nine out of ten women and girls in urban communities face harassment in Afghanistan. Every woman’s experiences differ depending on the distance she travels or her time on the streets, but she can face up to 20 incidents of verbal or physical harassment or inappropriate stares and disturbances from male pedestrians. According to Women and Children Legal Research Foundation conducted research with 364 women and girls about sexual harassment in public spaces, workplaces, and educational institutions in seven provinces of Afghanistan. 93% said they were harassed in public spaces, 87% said workplaces, and 89% said educational institutions. Additionally, 90% had observed sexual harassment in public places, 79% in educational settings, and 72% in workplaces. However, it is recognized as the least spoken-about form of violence, which is rife in workplaces, at educational institutions, and on the streets.
The women empowerment programs have been of the most frequently debated issues in last 15 years but there is no fundamental changes occurred in their lives yet. According to experts, the main factors of suicides consist of forced marriage, depression and family conflicts despite the fact that the marriage issue has recognized as a rampant factor. In addition, Most of the girls and women are isolated at homes while the T.V and New media have become their daily hobbies. As the main targets of these programs are youths and young girls who are getting familiar with the new culture and new life style. After the young women compare their lives to them, find a huge contrast which can lead to crisis. On the hand, some of scholars believe that these types crises are inevitable and call ordinary in transition society such as Afghanistan. But we should not forget that smoothly crossing from these issues and without managing the sociological consequences may take centuries to reach an ideal condition. On the subject of Street harassment, there are several factors such as psychological, social, economic, moral, lawlessness and sexual deprivations due to fiscal or traditional barriers for timely marriage. The Expenses of wedding is the most costly in Afghanistan comparing to other countries whilst the couples are not chosen on the basis of logical criteria rather than preferences of parents or other family members. Therefore, they are not satisfied from each other and try to satiate their thirst on the street.
Moreover, many women and girls who are subjected to street violence or family violence do not come forward to register complaints due to their lack of knowledge of the law or lack of trust to the justice system; fear of reprisal from the perpetrators and family members; financial and other constraints, including the lack of freedom of movement; and fear of being treated as criminals instead of victims, when reporting crimes committed against them. Women and girls who try to escape from situations of violence or abuse are often condemned and shunned by their families, communities and the authorities, and are threatened with death, should they return home.
However, there are rarely cases who dare to stand against violence and injustice traditions. For Example, in 2015, An Afghan girl surprised the whole nation through a symbolic demonstration by wearing a strange outfit which is apparently made of metal. The photos went viral on social media websites which purportedly shows a young girl walking in the streets of Kabul and is surrounded by dozens of men. Though many Afghan women experience various forms of street harassment every day in their life but due to the predominant culture of “shame” and “honor” and high social stigma attached to issues of sexual harassment often they do not talk about their experiences of street harassment. The scar remains invisible and women continue to suffer, generation after generation. As a result, women can’t walk, talk, work, teach, eat, and visit freely. They are simply limited to their home places and this caused them to take less part in decision making at their community and country levels. Teenage girls are mostly the victims. Girls aged 19 are 90% experiencing street harassment in Kabul streets. This must be stopped at any cost. The government and other responsible authorities must act responsively to the problem.
Finally, Afghanistan has international legal obligations to meet the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The State has a responsibility to act with due diligence to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. This responsibility includes the protection, prevention, investigation, punishment, and provision of effective remedies, including compensation measures. Furthermore, the State has a responsibility to hold accountable not only the perpetrators of violence, but also state authorities who fail to protect and prevent the violations of women and girls human rights, due to a lack of response or because of ineffective responses.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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