UN urges Afghan authorities to fully enact EVAW law
KABUL (PAN): The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN Women on Monday urged Afghan authorities to step up their efforts to ensure the law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) was fully implemented in line with their international commitments.
The call comes after the law failed this weekend to gain a parliamentary approval amid angry scenes. Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi ended the Saturday's debate after 15 minutes when some MPs called for the law to be scrapped.
“Progress in implementing the EVAW law contributes to deterring harmful practices and protecting women from violence in their daily lives,” said Jan Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.
In a UNAMA statement, Kubiš said the law was critical, not just for women and girls, but for all of Afghan society. The international community also has firm expectations of the government on increasing respect for women’s rights which affect the assistance it provides to the country.
“I call upon the Afghan government and Parliament to fully respect and defend the fundamental rights of women and girls by ensuring that the EVAW law is respected and implemented,” said the UN Women representative in Afghanistan, Ingibjorg Gisladottir.
“It is imperative for the development of Afghanistan that women are able to exercise their rights and be free from violence in their homes and workplaces.”
UNAMA and UN Women – the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – called on international donors to support the Afghan government in meeting its Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) commitments it held out to the international community in July 2012.
The government has agreed to the TMAF that calls for improving “access to justice for all, in particular women, by ensuring that the Constitution and other fundamental laws are enforced expeditiously, fairly and transparently,” and ensuring “that women can fully enjoy their economic, social, civil, political and cultural rights”
The statement said the international community – as well as the UN Security Council – expected that Afghan authorities would respect and promote Afghanistan’s domestic and international obligations and legal norms in the field of human rights, notably the rights of woman and children.
In its latest resolution on Afghanistan, adopted in March 2013, the Security Council recognized that despite some progress on women’s rights, enhanced efforts were required to secure the rights of women and girls and to “ensure all women and girls in Afghanistan are protected from violence and abuse, enjoy equal protection under the law and equal access to justice.
"The Council also called on the Afghan Government and international donors to adhere to the commitments made at the Tokyo meeting."
Other international instruments which Afghanistan is legally bound to uphold include the Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Through it, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms.
Incidents of violence against women in Afghanistan still remain largely under-reported due to cultural restraints, social norms and taboos, customary practices and religious beliefs, discrimination against women that leads to a wider acceptance of violence against them, fear of social stigma and exclusion, and, at times, a threat to life.
Prevailing insecurity and weak rule of law have further hampered women’s access to formal justice institutions. Those incidents that reach law enforcement and judicial authorities or receive public attention due to their egregious nature represent the tip of the iceberg of incidents of violence against women throughout the country.
In its December 2012 report on the implementation of the EVAW law, UNAMA made 29 recommendations to the Government and its international partners urging them to ensure that promotion and protection of women’s rights are an integral part of peace and reconciliation efforts and the country’s political, economic and security strategies.
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