Warlords, graft hamper probe into violence against women
FEROZKOH (Pajhwok): Violence against women has doubled in the first four months of the current solar year in western Ghor province, fueling concerns among human rights campaigners and civil society activists.
Last week, three women were killed and a girl wounded as a consequence of domestic tension in different parts of the province, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s Ghor chapter.
Seven cases of violence against females were recorded in the first trimester of the last solar year by the rights watchdog, which says 15 cases have been registered with it during the corresponding period this year.
Most of these cases involve girls running away from home, beatings, divorce and a denial of sustenance. Last year’s incidents included no murder, as per the commission’s record.
Farida Nasiri, in charge of the women’s wing of the panel, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the killer of one woman was caught and handed over to police by residents of the provincial capital. But the remaining two murderers are still at large.
She named one of the victims as Fareshta, 22, whose husband connived at her murder. Although police were sent a formal letter regarding the incident, no one has been arrested yet. Some say the young woman was shot dead, others claim she was stabbed.
In the Amrotak village of Ferozkoh, a woman named Rangin was shot dead by her brother-in-law a year after her marriage. “Police have not yet taken any step to detain the killer, because such incidents are deliberately kept under wraps,” Nasiri complained.
Another woman Kishwar, who had been engaged forcibly to a young man, was gunned down in the Madrassa village of the provincial capital by a brother of her fiancé. The killer and his accomplice were handed over to police by residents, Nasiri said.
The 20-year-old victim’s mother Reza Gul said: “My daughter was unhappy with her engagement and ran away from home to a shelter. As part of a settlement, we paid the boy’s family one million afghanis and they promised not to bother us any longer.”
After the patch-up, Gul recalled, her family shifted from Badgah area to Madrassa village. But the fiancé’s relatives later killed Kishwar inside her house. “Unlike my helpless family, the killers are strongmen who roam about the village without any concern.”
Gul, whose husband is quite old, has three daughters to look after. She urged the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The commission official alleged cases of violence against women in remote areas could not be investigated properly due to threats from gunmen and widespread corruption in state institutions. “Women will continue to face such painful fates if the perpetrators of violence are not prosecuted.”
Local authorities say up to 6,000 gunmen from 130 groups operated in Ghor until two years ago. But now 4,500 irresponsible gunmen belonging to 103 outfits are active in the province, they claim, linking the decrease to the government’s stronger writ.
Women’s Affair Director Masooma Anwari, meanwhile, vehemently denounced all forms of violence against females and demanded the immediate arrest of perpetrators. She confirmed efforts by some powerful individuals to impede investigations into such incidents.
Provincial council member Anisa Ghayyur also voiced her grave concern over the increasing violence against women in Ghor. “We want the governor, herself a woman, to investigate this violence and bring the perpetrators to justice."
Gul Paida Mansh, who also heads the Sisters’ Movement (a feminist organisation), said: “We are concerned about the failure of security and judicial organs to detain and prosecute the accused.”
She explained 90 percent of Ghor women either had no access to justice or were not allowed to initiate litigation for their rights. Thanks to primitive customs, men still think that women’s recourse to the government for rights is against their honour.
As a result, she grumbled, girls were deprived of going to schools, married against their choice before attaining puberty and used as a dispute settlement mechanism. Absent true rule of law and respect for the rights of women and girls, they were still sold and purchased like animals, she lamented.
But Governor Seema Joyenda said: “As a woman, I represent this province. I am duty-bound to defend women’s rights and ensure thoroughgoing investigations into violence against them.” One of two women governors in Afghanistan, she promised exercising her discretion in this regard.
Also a former member of the Wolesi Jirga, Joyenda added: “I instruct all security personnel to follow such cases with a sense of urgency and ask justice sector organisations to treat the perpetrators of domestic violence in accordance with the law.”
At the time of her inauguration last month, she had pledged to eradicate corruption, ensure security and strengthen women’s role in local departments.
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