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In Nuristan, cases of violence against women addressed by jirgas

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In Nuristan, cases of violence against women addressed by jirgas

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Jan 06, 2018 - 13:44

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The Womeninfo-icon’s Affairs Department in eastern Nuristan province says many incidents of violence against women are being resolved by tribal elders instead of courts.

Some 45 cases of violence against women have been recorded during the ongoing solar yearinfo-icon. None of the cases referred to the judicial organs has been resolved so far.

The delays have prompted people to present such cases before tribal elders for immediate resolution.

Women’s Affairs Director Zahida Faizan said 18 of the cases registered this year were resolved through mediation by elders.

In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, she said currently fives cases of violence were being dealt with tribal elders. Some cases have also been sent to the court for investigation.

Faizan added 57 incidents of violence against women were registered last year in the province. Of them, 27 were resolved through mediation.

Among the cases, one is of Alina (an assumed name) that has been referred to judicial organs. However, it has not been resolved yet.

Faizan said Alina, a resident of the provincial capital Paroon, was traded for 13 cows by his father -- a drug addict -- to another young junkie. “Alina, however, was divorced before marriage.”

The 23-year-old was engaged six years back. But when she found that her husband was a drug addict, she complained to the Women’s Affairs Department.

Later on, she asked the department to make her husband hand over the 13 cows she had been pledged in dowry.

The department summoned Alina’s husband to resolve the issue. However, he divorced her on the spot and repeated the word ‘divorce’ several times.

A regretful husband of Alina denied divorcing her and said he had uttered the words in anger. But Alina refused to marry him, saying she had been divorced.

The issue was then sent to the appellate court, where judge issued a verdict in favour of Alina’s husband.

Asked why such cases are not tried by courts, Faizan responded: “Nuristan is a traditional province, with many religious scholars.

“No one wants their women to go to court. Local elders decide cases in light of Islamic teachings. Thus women’s rights aren’t trampled on. There is relatively low public confidence in courts.”

With regard to Alina’s case, she said: “It has been sent to the court long ago and its disposal has taken so long. The judge’s verdict is one-sided on the one hand and unjust on the other.”

Meanwhile, Nuristan inhabitants and lawmakers also criticised handling of the matter, alleging court decisions were really one-sided.’

As a result, they argued, people had lost trust in courts and preferred to get such issues resolved through local jirgas and tribal mediation.

A tribal elder, Maulviinfo-icon Amanullah Enayat, told Pajhwok lack of courts in districts and satisfactory decisions by jirgas attracted people’s attention towards jirgas, which gave people their rights.

But Provincial Council Chairman Sadullah Payandazoy acknowledging issues were somewhat resolved by tribal jirgas. But he explained the trend was not linked to lack of confidence in courts; instead it was because of custom in the province.

The Nuristan governor’s spokesman, Saeed Momand, said inhabitants of the province took their issues to tribal jirgas as part of their traditions and it had nothing to do with courts.

“This is not because of lack of trust in the judicial organs.” He alleged prosecutors, courts and legal institutions were operational in all districts except Kamdesh.

Meanwhile, Nuristan Appellate Court Judge Mohammad Hakim Kunari also expressed similar views. He insisted they were addressing every matter as part of their religious and national obligations.

About Alina’s case, he said: “This issue has been on hold because the girl herself is culpable in the application.”  In addition to incidents of violence, subjecting women to hard labour is widespread in the province.

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