Women rights defenders facing threats: AI
KABUL (KABUL): Women rights defenders in Afghanistan who face mounting violence - including threats, sexual assault and assassinations- are being abandoned by their own government despite the significant gains they have fought to achieve, Amnesty International (AI) said in a new report.
A statement from AI said that how champions for the rights of women and girls, including doctors, teachers, lawyers, police and journalists as well as activists have been targeted not just by the Taliban but by warlords and government officials as well.
“Laws meant to support them are poorly implemented, if at all, while the international community is doing far too little to ease their plight,” the report added.
Rights defenders have suffered car bombings, grenade attacks on homes, killing of family members and targeted assassinations, it said, adding that many continue their work despite suffering multiple attacks, in the full knowledge that no action will be taken against the perpetrators.
Salil Shetty, AI Secretary General, in Kabul to launch the report, noted: “Women human rights defenders from all walks of life have fought bravely for some significant gains over the past 14 years – many have even paid with their lives. It’s outrageous that Afghan authorities are leaving them to fend for themselves, with their situation more dangerous than ever.”
“With the troop withdrawal nearly complete, too many in the international community seem happy to sweep Afghanistan under the carpet. We cannot simply abandon this country and those who put their lives on the line for human rights, including women’s rights,” Shetty added.
There has been significant international investment to support Afghan women, including efforts to strengthen women’s rights. But too much of it has been piecemeal and ad hoc, and much of the aid money is drying up.
While Taliban are responsible for the majority of attacks against women defenders, government officials or powerful local commanders with the authorities’ backing are increasingly implicated in violence and threats against women.
As one woman defender explained: “The threats now come from all sides: it’s difficult to identify the enemies. They could be family, security agencies, Taliban, politicians.”
Based on interviews with more than 50 women defenders and their family members across the country, AI found a consistent pattern of authorities ignoring or refusing to take seriously threats against women.
Few investigations were carried out, while prosecutions and convictions were even rarer. In many cases, women defenders who reported violence or attacks were put at further risk, facing stigmatization or threats simply for speaking out.
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