[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, called on the government of Afghanistan [press release] and the international community on Thursday to adopt sustainable measures to address the causes and consequences of violence against women in the country. Although there have been “positive legislative and institutional developments” within Afghanistan, Manjoo asserts that violence against women and girls—ranging from spousal abuse, to targeted killings of women—is still a major concern within the country. Manjoo noted that the lack of access to the formal justice system, as well as informal dispute resolution is of great concern for these women and girls. Many women noted that they do not register complaints of such violence out of their fear of criminalization for “fleeing domestic violence and early or forced marriages.” In some of these instances, they were even threatened with death for their having fled. However, over the past 15 years, “several legislative and institutional advances have been made towards the promotion of human rights broadly and women’s rights in particular.” These include the “landmark legislation on the elimination of violence against women”—the 2009 End Violence against Women Law—which is viewed as a “step towards the elimination of violence against women and girls,” and discusses “fighting against customs, traditions and practices that cause violence against women contrary to the religion of Islam.”
Afghanistan has been the target of much criticism [JURIST op-ed] regarding human rights issues, including women’s rights. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official websites] released a study [JURIST report] in February that raised concern over the treatment of women in the country. The report states there was an increase of reported acts of violence against women to the Afghan authorities in the past year, but prosecutions and convictions under the landmark Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) [text, PDF] law remained low and most cases were settled through mediation. Reported incidents of forced marriage, domestic violence, and rape all increased by 28 percent, but the indictments under EVAW only increased by 2 percent. In November the Human Rights Watch [official website] reported the Afghanistan Justice Ministry proposed [JURIST report] new provisions to the nation’s penal code that allow for stoning as punishment for adultery.