Sunday, April 20, 2014


Gandhara

Honor-Killing Case Raises Fears For Women's Rights In Afghanistan

Rights activists fear that many of the civil liberties women have gained in Afghanistan over the past decade or so could soon be eroded. (file photo)
Rights activists fear that many of the civil liberties women have gained in Afghanistan over the past decade or so could soon be eroded. (file photo)
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Authorities in the northwestern Afghan province of Badghis have arrested a local cleric accused of killing a woman for allegedly having an affair with her male cousin.

Badghis police chief, Sharafuddin Sharaf, told Radio Free Afghanistan over the phone that local security forces arrested Mullah Abdul Ghafoor on July 30 and handed him over to judicial officials in the province. The cleric had been in hiding since April.

Sharaf added that Ghafoor had issued an edict or fatwa for the women's execution on the grounds that she had apparently had an "illicit affair" with a man. The killing was carried out on April 22 when the 20-year-old woman, known as Halima, was shot dead by her father in front of more than 200 inhabitants of the village of Kookchaeel in the Aabkamari district.

"The fatwa was an illegal act," said Sharaf. "Even if that woman was guilty, she should have been tried based on Afghan Islamic law and its justice system. It was an unjust act because it was an extra-judicial trial conducted without the presence of any eye-witnesses."

Badghis Governor Ahmadullah Alizai also condemned the fatwa.

"This is cruelty and we are trying to arrest those who set-up their own courts and kill women," he said. "We have to implement stringent laws on them." 

Sharafuddin Sharaf told Radio Free Asia that Halima, the mother of two children, was accused of running away with her male cousin while her husband was in Iran and returned to her family after 10 days.

Sharaf added that Halima's father and her cousin are now on the run and their whereabouts remain unknown.

In a report published on April 30, Amnesty International said: "The public killing of a woman in Afghanistan is further proof that the authorities are still failing to tackle the shocking levels of gender-based violence in the country." 

According to the report, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission registered more than 4,000 cases of violence against women from 21 March to 21 October 2012, which shows a 28 percent rise in the level of women's rights abuses in the country compared with the same period in 2011.

By way of a presidential decree in 2009, Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed a law on the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW), which criminalizes rape, child marriage, forced marriage, and other activities that threaten females.

However, the legislation was opposed by a number of hard-line Afghan lawmakers in May and has not yet been approved.

Conservative members of the Afghan parliament argued that some articles of the EVAW, including one stating that the victims of such violence should be given shelter at a safe house, are against Shari'a Law.

Advocates of the EVAW say that it offers "sanctuary for Afghan women" and that it should be approved to safeguard women's rights in the country.

It was common practice during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan for women to be stoned to death on charges of committing adultery or having seemingly illicit affairs with men.

Now, many women in the country are concerned that any Taliban resurgence could trample on the hard-won rights they have gained under the U.S.-backed Afghan administration that has governed the country for nearly 12 years. 

-- Mustafa Sarwar
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by: Asma from: kabul
July 31, 2013 19:21
It's not only one mullah that has said that a woman must be killed in a village. We've a patriarchal society. Has someone seen the first-lady's face in 12 years democracy in Afghanistan. Democracy and things like these are just empty words in my country. It's a pressure by americans and other countries that we live in here other wise if they go out of Afghanistan the other day taliban will come and then we will see what is the meaning of violence against womans in here.

by: Karim from: Sydney
July 31, 2013 20:35
This is interesting to see that one mullah issues an edict and more than 200 other men just stand and see how the edict is being carried out. 12 years of 46 western nations presence in Afghanistan is passing yet this is the example of real change in the minds of most of our 40,000 villages and millions of villagers! no offence to anyone, we're a medieval society that is far from social change!

by: Josh Shahryar from: USA
July 31, 2013 23:32
Thank you, Mustafa jan. Loved the piece.

by: Breshna Nazari from: Canada
August 01, 2013 02:35
The Honor-Killing issue is one of the top concerns in Afghan society. The Badghis event is one of the cases which you bring it up. In fact a huge number of clerics in far flaked areas of Afghanistan issue verdicts against women. It seems that the action can not be stopped in near future and only by government, but media has the great role to gradually spread awareness among the people to stop the action.

by: Dunya from: herat
August 01, 2013 14:35
The issue is not only about women and how men behave with them but the issue is lack of structures and systems in the country. here are two arguments: 1) for a body to be alive the head is more essential than the body, 2) for a house to stand the basis is more essential than the roof. Unfortunately, we lack both the head to be alive and the foundation to keep the roof!

by: sheragha from: badaghsham
August 01, 2013 18:20
our people are implementing the rights of women , most of them think that womens are like a machine of child , violence has been improved against of women in Afghanistan ,i kindly request from our Governor to prevent from all these things which men doing against of women in Afghanistan ,
thank you ,

by: aman from: germany
August 01, 2013 19:33
Violence against women is an abominable act and this all stems from a lack of adequate education.But much of the action is repeated, and my baby please state on this abominable practice has serious

by: khaleq from: Finland
August 01, 2013 19:45
In a culture where women are treated as goods, and males have ”honor”, for ladies it needs to be just doubtful or suspicious about them to be punish. More awful is, neither govornment nor society provide any shelter for them. Unfortunately in our country most of women think that males have the right to harass their wives physically.

by: HUMY from: kabul
August 02, 2013 07:41
Humans are born free
All people wants freedom men or women and afghan women also wants to have freedom...and they have to be free without any force...
And İ belive that one day afghan women dreams come true İnsha Allah:-) wish so...

by: Khalid Mafton from: Location
August 02, 2013 10:40
Needless to say, this discriminative attitude and behavior towards women is not a new phenomenon in Afghanistan. For more than a century, the issue of women's rights in war-torn Afghanistan has been inextricably linked to the destiny of the country. In the other words, gender has been one of the most politicized issues in Afghanistan. Although Afghans consider women a symbol of honor for the family, Afghan women nonetheless have suffered enormously from human rights violations and social injustices due to decades of armed conflict. The Taliban regime had imposed tough and strict rules on Afghan women and the current administration somehow follow the same path by not penalizing those criminals who act beyond all rules and enacting laws. The Afghan constitution entitles women with equal rights, but inequality still widely exists between men and women. Such inequality stems from lack of political will within the political system. If criminals are penalized, brutal acts such as the so-called “honor killing” would not often happen.














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Gandhara is a blog dedicated to Afghanistan and Pakistan written by RFE/RL journalists from Radio Mashaal (Pakistan), Radio Azadi (Afghanistan), our Central Newsroom, and other services. Here, our people on the ground will provide context, analysis, and some opinions on news from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Send comments or questions to gandhara [at] rferl.org.