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UN urges Afghanistan to approve women's rights legislation

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN Women [official websites] on Monday urged [press release] Afghanistan's government to fully respect and defend the fundamental rights of women and girls by ensuring the implementation of and respect for women's rights legislation. This call comes in response to the Afghanistan parliament, which blocked legislation [JURIST report] on Saturday that would have protected provisions of the 2009 Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) [text, PDF] from being repealed by future Afghanistan presidents. EVAW criminalizes child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women for the purpose or under the pretext of marriage, ba'ad (giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute), forced self-immolation and several other acts of violence against women. In its December report on the implementation of EVAW, Still a Long Way to Go [text, PDF], UNAMA urged all levels of Afghanistan's government to publicly emphasize that the promotion and protection of women's rights is an integral part and main priority of peace and reconciliation throughout Afghanistan, and a central pillar of the country's political, economic, and security strategies.

Women's rights in Afghanistan has been a hotly debated topic since the end of the Taliban's reign in 2001. Last February Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] Afghanistan to take steps to ensure that its laws protect victims of sexual abuse and do not result in their prosecution. In December UNAMA released a report [JURIST report] saying that women in Afghanistan still faced abuse at the hands of man despite progress in implementing EVAW. In July the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo [official profile] urged [JURIST report] the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to end violence against women and to initiate investigations into the killings of two women. In March 2012 the HRW called on the Afghan government to release women and girls imprisoned [JURIST report] in Afghanistan for "moral crimes," many of which involve flight from unlawful forced marriage or domestic violence and "zina," which is sex outside of marriage due to rape or forced prostitution.

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