Monday, February 25, 2008

Women's lives worse than ever: 87% abused

The Independent reports on the release of a new study by NGO Womankind called "Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On". (See Womankind's "Five Years On" report here; so far the new report doesn't seem to be online.)

Women's lives worse than ever

By Terri Judd

... Six years after the US and Britain "freed" Afghan women from the oppressive Taliban regime, a new report proves that life is just as bad for most, and worse in some cases.

Projects started in the optimistic days of 2002 have begun to wane as the UK and its Nato allies fail to treat women's rights as a priority, workers in the country insist.

The statistics in the report from Womankind, Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On, make shocking reading. Violent attacks against females, usually domestic, are at epidemic proportions with 87 per cent of females complaining of such abuse – half of it sexual. More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced.

Despite a new law banning the practice, 57 per cent of brides are under the age of 16. The illiteracy rate among women is 88 per cent with just 5 per cent of girls attending secondary school.

Maternal mortality rates – one in nine women dies in childbirth – are the highest in the world alongside Sierra Leone. And 30 years of conflict have left more than one million widows with no enforceable rights, left to beg on the streets alongside an increasing number of orphans. Afghanistan is the only country in the world with a higher suicide rate among women than men.

Campaigners say these are nationwide figures but in war-torn provinces, such as Helmand, the British area of responsibility, oppression is often worse, though the dangers make it impossible for them to monitor it accurately. ...

Womankind is calling for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which says women in conflict zones should be offered protection and recognition of their role in the peace process as well as their human rights ... (link)
Last week, we blogged on a report by IPRIO on women and peacebuilding in Afghanistan. The report says that "the real threats to women" are conservative forces "both inside and outside Parliament" who "reduce the space for dialogue and nonviolent approaches" to conflict resolution (see blog entry here).

No comments: