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Taking photo of female voters to affect their turnout’

Taking photo of female voters to affect their turnout’

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Aug 22, 2019 - 18:13

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): People and election oversight institutes say taking photos of female voters on the election day is not professional, fearing the decision would affect womeninfo-icon’s participation in next month’s poll.

Two days back, the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) said photo, fingerprints, identity card photo were prerequisite for transparency in election and prevention of fraud.

Photo of women voter in the last election was optional due to cultural issues.

A letter from the IEC received by Pajhwok Afghan News said that taking and registering photos of women voters on the election day was optional, but only two of seven commissioners on IEC agreed with the optional idea while the rest stressed women’s photo registration to be mandatory.

A number of Kabul residents say this IEC decision would negatively impact women’s presence in the voting process.

Fareshta Aziz, a resident of Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News that some families in provinces did not allow their women to take photos even for identity cards and passports due to cultural restrictions.

“When men in families do not allow their women to take their photos for identity cards, I do not think they would allow them to do it for voting,” she said.

Shamsullah, another resident of Kabul, also criticized the IEC decision and said, “Some families in remote areas may not let their women take pictures due to traditions, this would weaken women voters participation in presidential election.”

On the other hand, election oversight institutes also say that taking photos of women voters on the election day would weaken their turnout.

Yousuf Rashid, head of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (FFEFA), called the IEC decision about women’s photos on election day ‘a late decision’ and said it was not a good idea as limited time remained to go for the election.

He said women’s participation in the election in remote areas might further decline as a result of the IEC decision.

“Candidates who think women vote would be affected in some areas by the move still have the opportunity to spread awareness about the issue,” he said.

Habibullah Shinwari, head of Election and Transparency Watch Organization of Afghanistan (ETWA), also criticized the IEC decision and said, “In our societyinfo-icon as we know it, people of Paktia, Khost, Farah, Nimroz and other remote provinces would not allow their women to face camera.”

He criticized the IEC members and said their decision would affect women voters’ participation in the Sept. 28 presidential election.

“Our observers in provinces say the majority of women are against the idea of taking their photos,” he said.

A Facebook based survey by Pajhwok Afghan News also shows that 58 percent of people are against the IEC decision.

However, Zabihullah Sadat, IEC spokesman, said the decision to capturing take photos of women voters was made in consultation with civil society and election observers.

He said thousands of imaginary votes were polled in the name of women in last election and the new IEC decision would help ensure transparency in the democratic exercise.

“Women’s photos would be taken by our female officers at polling sites, these photos would be protected with us,” he said.

mds/ma

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