Violence against women down in Kunar, claim officials
ASADABAD (Pajhwok): Officials in eastern Kunar province claim incidents of violence against women have declined and most of disputes involving females settled by the government and local jirgas.
Local officials said this in response to a recent report -- Justice Through the Eyes of Afghan Women -- from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The report reflected the experiences of 110 women and girls who fell victims to violence and whose complaints were addressed through adjudication (criminal prosecution) or mediation.
In the report, concerns were expressed over the use of formal and informal methods for the settlement of disputes that involved violations of women’s rights. Lack of trust in the judicial system was also mentioned as a source of concern.
Lack of awareness about how to mediate and the absence of legal system in settlement of disputes, government inability to protect women’s rights were also noted with concerns. A meeting attended by senior officials was held in Kunar to debate the UNAMA report.
Provincial Council Chairman Jamaluddin Sayyar, Crime Branch Chief Col. Sibghatullah Andarabi, Prosecutor Lutfullah Khyber, Women’s Affairs Director Nasima Shafiq Sadaat and Eng. Hashmi Sharif, the Afghanistan Independent Human Right Commission (AIHRC) director, took part in the discussion.
The participants, who agreed with some concerns raised by UNAMA, praised the active role of the judicial departments in prompt resolution of serious issues concerning women.
The AIHRC director said women refused to go to the judicial departments for the settlement of their disputes due to corruption and lack of capacity in the government machinery.
She, however, explained lack of awareness about basic human rights in the jirga system affected the decisions made by elders. She told Pajhwok Afghan News the UNAMA report expressed concern about the flaws in the jirga system.
She said the report also asked the government to address the issue and bring reforms to the jirga system for effective dispensation of justice to victims of violence.
The crime branch chief said at least 12 incident of the women’s rights violations had taken place so far this year. Three of the cases have been resolved by jirgas and one referred to the attorney office.
The remaining eight cases were addressed by the Women’s affairs Department. He acknowledged due to lack of women police officials, cases could not be investigated properly.
He tended to reject people’s concern that cases of violence against women were sent to tribal councils instead of judicial organs. He insisted less cases were referred to tribal jirgas.
However, more violent cases are now referred to judicial organs. Appellant Court head Lutfullah Khyber confirmed a shortage of of female attorneys, police and special court judges to address women’s cases, most of which were referred to them.
He said that a joint commission of different government departments had created to better solve violence against women issues.
But Women’s Affairs Director Nasima Shafiq Sadat observed females in deeply conservative areas could not summon the courage to take their cases to judicial organs.
She admitted women in rural areas tolerated violence to protect the honour of their families in line with local traditions. In such a community, she argued, it was hard tracking such incidents, much less dealing with them according to the law.
Shafiq added it was impossible to eliminate violence against women in the absence of public cooperated with the government to address them. But she noted a decline in such cases as a result of public awareness in Kunar.
Provincial Council deputy head Jamaluddin Sayyar also confirmed problems in judicial organs addressing the issue of violence against women. He said he had always raised his voice in this regard.
It is the responsibility of the government to bring reforms to its departments and make them credible for the people in terms of eliminating violence.
Kunar inhabitants alleged the judicial organs were corrupt and weak in responding to violence against women and that was why most of such cases were taken to tribal councils.
Tila Mohammad a resident of the area, said most of the people referred all their cases to local jirgas because they had a traditional value and resolved problems in time.
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