[JURIST] Afghanistan must strengthen its criminal justice system to provide protection for women victims of domestic violence, according to a report [text, DOC] released [press release] Sunday by the the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites]. The report said only 5 percent of domestic violence cases in the country lead to criminal prosecution, and the majority of cases are handled through mediation, a practice the UN believes should be modified to include greater support for the victims. According to the report, many Afghan women who have experienced violence choose to settle the matter in mediation because they believe the criminal justice system is corrupt and unprofessional. Additionally, many victims are more concerned with civil remedies, such as divorce or custody, and worry about having nowhere to go if they are forced to leave the marital home. The report states laws in Afghanistan do not protect women’s property and fail to provide safeguards like protection orders. The report urges the Afghan government to implement policies to protect women against violence, including civil remedies, common standards among the courts, and training staff of men and women to help the victims.
Human rights groups have criticized Afghanistan’s record in recent years. Earlier this month an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report stated [JURIST report] that Afghanistan women’s rights activists are facing increased violence and a lack of governmental support. Last month UNAMA also released a report [JURIST report] indicating a 22 percent increase in civilian causalities in 2014, making 2014 the deadliest year in Afghanistan since 2009. In November the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women called on the government of Afghanistan [JURIST report] and the international community to adopt sustainable measures to address violence against women in the country. UNAMA and the OHCHR released a study [JURIST report] last year that raised concern over the treatment of women in the country.