UN: Afghanistan government reponse to violence against women inadequate

[JURIST] The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] released a report [text, PDF] Sunday stating that although there was an increase of reported acts of violence against women to the Afghan authorities in the past year, prosecutions and convictions under the landmark Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) [text, PDF] law remained low, and most cases were settled through mediation. The reported incidents of forced marriage, domestic violence and rape all increased by 28 percent, but the indictments under EVAW only increased by 2 percent. The report stated mediation, which accounted for over 90 percent of the dispute resolution processes, often fails to protect women from further violence because it avoids criminal sanctions. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay [official profile], stated [press release] that, "The landmark law on the Elimination of Violence against Women was a huge achievement for all Afghans ... [b]ut implementation has been slow and uneven, with police still reluctant to enforce the legal prohibition against violence and harmful practices, and prosecutors and courts slow to enforce the legal protections in the law." The report recommended that the Aghan government enact a concrete plan within the next six months to improve EVAW's implementation over the next two years.

Afghanistan has been the target of much criticism [JURIST op-ed] regarding human rights issues, including women's rights, in the wake of the War on Terror [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the prosecutor's office of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] to expedite inquiry into international crimes committed in Afghanistan. Last month HRW reported [JURIST report] that the Afghanistan Justice Ministry [official website] had proposed new provisions to the nation's penal code to allow for stoning as punishment for adultery. In September Pillay called on [JURIST report] the Afghan government to strengthen human rights efforts in preparation for presidential elections in April 2014 and the departure of the International Security Assistance Force [official website] in late 2014. In May UNAMA and UN Women urged Afghanistan's government to fully respect and defend the fundamental rights of women and girls by ensuring the implementation of and respect for EVAW, which had originally been blocked [JURIST reports] by parliament.

 

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