HRW to Afghanistan: prosecute sexual abusers, not victims

HRW to Afghanistan: prosecute sexual abusers, not victims

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[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said [press release] on Sunday that Afghanistan needs to take steps to ensure that its laws protect victims of sexual abuse and do not result in their prosecution. HRW is calling for this reform following a recent court decision which convicted a 13-year-old boy and sentenced him to one year in juvenile detention on moral crimes charges for having sex with two adult men in a park. Afghan law, which outlaws sexual relations between a man and a boy, punishes both parties to the sexual relations. HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said,

When a man has sex with a 13-year-old child, the child is a victim of rape. The Afghan government should never have victimized this boy a second time, but instead should have released him with urgent protection and assistance.

The adult men were also arrested and charged with moral crimes, but their cases are still pending. An Afghan prosecutor said the boy was charged and convicted because he told authorities he had consented to sexual relations with the men. Afghanistan does not have an age of consent, so the men’s actions did not constitute sexual abuse under its law. The boy’s sentence is currently under appeal.

Rights groups have showed increasing interest in the treatment of victims of sexual abuse in several countries. Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called on South Africa to increase its efforts [JURIST report] to prevent sexual violence following the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl. Also last week, the UN called on Somalia to re-open a recent case [JURIST report] in which an alleged rape victim and a journalist were both convicted of insulting a government body and making false claims for reporting on the woman’s claims that she was raped by Somali soldiers. The UN also praised a recent report [JURIST report] released by the Indian government recommending improvement in police and judicial response to rape accusations and harsher penalties for those convicted of sexual assault.