Apr 11, 2015

Afghanistan failed to protect women activists: report says

Recently lynching a woman in Kabul, outraged human rights activists around the world. It has been reported that women in Afghanistan has a miserable and tough life, especially from Taliban’s reign. This is not the only case, not women only but those activists who talk of women rights also suffer.

Despite laws aimed at safeguarding them, women's rights activists continue to face harassment and worse dangers in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said in a report released Tuesday.

In May 2010, when Humira Saqib launched a magazine called Negah-e Zan, or Vision of Women, she knew she would face opposition. She never imagined she'd be forced to flee Afghanistan.

Almost immediately after publishing the inaugural issue, which included an article criticizing comments by a religious council in the northern province of Baghlan, Humira started receiving threatening phone calls and comments online, she said.

Then it got worse. Her 10-year-old daughter was stabbed by unidentified assailants in Kabul but survived. Humira was the target of an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt. She eventually moved with her family to Tajikistan, where they stayed for a year before returning to Afghanistan.

The international rights watchdog said the Afghan government "is failing in its obligations to protect them and to provide adequate remedy for the violations they experience." 

The report said majority of threats come from the Taliban and other armed opposition groups, but government officials, law enforcement authorities and local strongmen also committed abuses against women's activists or failed to punish perpetrators.

The group, which interviewed 50 women and their families nationwide, accused Afghanistan's U.S.-trained security forces of inaction and inattention in cases of harassment against women.

"The systemic failure of security and law enforcement agencies to respond to threats and investigate incidents of attacks reported by women human rights defenders is a human rights violation rooted in patriarchal traditions that normalize gender-based violence and render it acceptable," Amnesty said.

"I still speak out, but I'm much more cautious with what I say," Humira said. Women should hold officials to account by reporting all threats immediately, but she acknowledged that many don't out of fear of being stigmatized.

"Unfortunately, women often keep quiet and don't report the abuses and harassment until it's too late" she added.

An artist also recorded her protest against harassment by walking on the streets in an Iron jacket shaped in a women’s body but later on she also had to flee because of life threats.

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