This 120-page report is based on 58 interviews conducted in three prisons and three juvenile detention facilities with women and girls accused of “moral crimes.” Almost all girls in juvenile detention in Afghanistan had been arrested for “moral crimes,” while about half of women in Afghan prisons were arrested on these charges. These “crimes” usually involve flight from unlawful forced marriage or domestic violence. Some women and girls have been convicted of zina, sex outside of marriage, after being raped or forced into prostitution.
The fall of the Taliban government in 2001 promised a new era of women’s rights. Significant improvements have occurred in education, maternal mortality, employment, and the role of women in public life and governance. Yet the imprisonment of women and girls for “moral crimes” is just one sign of the difficult present and worrying future faced by Afghan women and girls as the international community moves to decrease substantially its commitments in Afghanistan.
"Implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women law in Afghanistan, December 2012"
Periodic evaluation of progress on implementation of the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women, reinforced in the June 2012 Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework, is imperative in view of the widespread occurrence of violence against women in Afghanistan and resistance to women’s rights at various levels of Afghan society. Harmful practices and violence against women in Afghanistan have long prevented women from participating in public life and blocked their voices from being heard in decision-making and political forums. Progress in implementing the EVAW law can contribute to enabling women to play a meaningful and crucial role in the country’s current peace and reconciliation processes. The United Nations has repeatedly stressed the imperative of ensuring equal participation of women and their full involvement in all efforts to achieve durable peace and security, and the need to increase women’s role in decision-making and in conflict prevention and resolution.
This report examines implementation of the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW law) by judicial and law enforcement officials for the period October 2011 to September 2012 and identifies the many challenges Afghan women still face in accessing justice. The analysis is based on information gathered from 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and highlights the reporting, registration and judicial process followed under the EVAW law and the Penal Code by the Afghan National Police (ANP), prosecutor’s offices and primary courts in a representative sample of violence against women incidents. From 16 provinces, UNAMA gathered and analyzed more detailed data from police, prosecutors and courts on cases processed using the EVAW law. The report also highlights the crucial role and work of provincial departments of women’s affairs and commissions on elimination of violence against women. This report updates earlier findings on the law’s implementation in UNAMA’s November 2011 report A Long Way to Go: Implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law in Afghanistan.
This report is based on research carried out by UNAMA/OHCHR human rights officers in Kabul and in eight UNAMA regional offices between March 2010 and September 2011. UNAMA/OHCHR officers gathered detailed statistical and substantive information on implementation of the EVAW law by prosecutors, judges and police officers, and on the status of operations of provincial Commissions for Prevention of Violence against Women.
Afghanistan is widely known and appreciated for its rich history, culture, literature and arts as well as its magnificent landscape. It is also widely known that large numbers of Afghans die, or live wretched lives, because violence is an everyday fact of life. Such violence is not openly condoned but neither is it challenged nor condemned by society at large or by state institutions. It is primarily human rights activists that make an issue of violence including, in particular, its impact on, and ramifications for, women and girls in Afghanistan. It is also left to a handful of stakeholders to challenge the way in which a culture of impunity, and the cycle of violence it generates, undermines democratization, the establishment of the rule of law and other efforts geared to building an environment conducive to respect for human rights.
The report seeks to put back on the agenda some of the issues pertaining to the enjoyment of all human rights by all Afghan women that are being increasingly ignored. The problems identified in this report require further discussion and public debate, with a view to informing appropriate legal, policy and awareness-raising measures.