Karzai defends plan to amend shelter regulations
Since 2004, a number of shelters have been established by non-governmental agencies in the capital and some provinces for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
There are 11 shelters registered with the Ministry of Economy in Kabul, Herat, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Faryab and Bamyan. A number of unregistered shelters are also operating in different parts of the country.
On Feb. 15, Minister of Women's Affairs Husn Bano Ghazanfar identified women's inadequate access to legal and health rights, mismanagement and high expenses as major problems facing some shelters. Such shelters might be administered by women's affairs ministry, she suggested.
Karzai told a press conference in Kabul there had been reports of misconduct at some shelters. However, the president said he could not confirm the reports.
Shifting control of the shelters to the government was discussed at several cabinet meetings, Karzai said, adding: "What we are doing is in accordance with the constitution and human rights; we are trying to do something that will reduce the pain and problems of women."
A day earlier, some women's rights organisations and activists criticised the proposed changes to the relevant regulations. They said the government did not have the capacity to maintain the shelters' security.
On Friday, the United States expressed its concern at the proposed changes to the regulations of women's shelters. "While we recognise that the government needs to monitor shelters, it is important that civil society be allowed to operate these facilities independently," the State Department spokesman said.
PJ Crowley said in a statement on Thursday: "In light of the progress that the Afghan government has achieved in advancing women's rights over the past decade, we encourage the government to support the humanitarian work of shelter organisations."
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