Sunday, September 9, 2007

Women in Karzai's Afghanistan

Al Jazeera reports that Afghan women prisoners, upon their release, are housed, not in half-way houses, but in newly-built prisons. It seems that money for prisons is forthcoming while money for other reahabilitative services in not.

But don't think that these women are criminals. They "would qualify as victims rather than criminals under any interpretation of international human rights laws, including those to which Afghanistan is a signatory." That, sadly, is only the beginning of Afghan women's woes. Excerpts from Al Jazeera:

The UN women's fund (Unifem) found that 80 per cent of the violence perpetrated against women in Afghanistan originated in their homes.

According to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), 60 to 80 per cent of marriages in Afghanistan are forced, some of them involving girls as young as six years old.

Subjected to sexual and psychological abuse along with violence in their marital home, many girls run away. And when they come in contact with Afghanistan's criminal justice system, instead of receiving any protection, they are seen as offenders and convicted.

Even Afghanistan's formal justice system does not clearly define rape as a separate crime, including it under the offence of "zina" or adultery, pederasty and violation of honour.

In practice, a woman often has to prove her lack of consent in a rape case in order to avoid being punished for it.
Several women who were interviewed by UNODC were verbally divorced and had married again, but were later "reported" by their first husbands and jailed. In one case the woman had been in her second marriage for 10 years and had given birth to five children.

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