Kabul fails to implement women protection law
KABUL: Millions of Afghan women and girls suffer from traditional practices such as child marriage and "honor" killings, and authorities fail to enforce laws protecting them, the United Nations said on Thursday. A report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that women's rights were being violated throughout Afghanistan, almost a decade after the strict Islamist Taliban regime was ousted.
The Taliban barred women from education and most work, ordered them to wear burqas outside the home and restricted their movement. Foreign and Afghan forces have been fighting an Islamist insurgency since 2001. In August 2009, Afghanistan enacted the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which criminalizes many harmful practices, but some authorities were unaware of the law and many were unwilling or unable to apply it, the report said.
"Ensuring rights for Afghan women ... requires not only legal and constitutional safeguards on paper, but more importantly, speedy and adequate enforcement," Georgette Gagnon, director of human rights for UNAMA, said in a statement.
"The Afghan police and judiciary require far more guidance, support and oversight from national-level authorities on how to properly apply the law," she said. The UNAMA report uses research done during 2010 in 29 of the country's 34 provinces.
The law makes illegal practices including the selling or buying of women for marriage, forced or child marriage, denying the right to education, work and access to health services.
UNAMA said that while there were several weaknesses in the law, which does not criminalize "honor" killings of women seen to have shamed the family's name, it urgently needed to be implemented and necessary revisions could be made later. Child marriage is widespread and the report said women in Balkh province quoted a popular saying: "If you hit a girl with your hat and she doesn't fall over, it's time to marry her." -Reuters