U.N. Report Calls On Afghanistan To Better Enforce Law Criminalizing Violence Against Women

“Afghan women are frequent victims of abuse, despite some success by authorities in prosecuting rape cases, forced marriages and domestic violence under a three-year-old law, according to a report [.pdf] issued Tuesday by the United Nations,” the Associated Press reports (Reichmann, 12/11). “Enacted in August 2009, the Afghan legislation criminalizes and specifies punishments for acts such as child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women under the pretext of marriage, giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute, forced self-immolation, rape and beating,” VOA News notes (Gul, 12/11). For the report, “[t]he U.N. collected information from 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces over a 12-month period ending in September to find out how existing laws protecting women were being implemented,” Al Jazeera writes (Latifi, 12/12).

“More than 4,000 reports of abuse of women were recorded by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission from over the seven months ending in October, which far outstrips the number recorded during the 12 preceding months, March 2011 to March 2012,” the New York Times reports (Rubin, 12/11). However, “just 21 percent of 470 reports of violence against women resulted in convictions,” according to the report, Agence France-Presse notes (Bartlett, 12/11). Georgette Gagnon, director of the human rights division of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said, “[W]e are calling on the Afghan authorities to take much greater steps to both facilitate reporting of incidents of violence against women and actually open investigations and take on prosecutions,” Reuters reports, adding, “Afghan women’s groups had expressed concern that without international backing, it would be difficult to press for their rights, said Gagnon” (Arghandiwal, 12/11).

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