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Oxfam: Rights Of Women At Risk in Afghanistan

Oxfam says women in Afghanistan have made many breakthroughs since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, especially in education.
Oxfam says the rights of women in Afghanistan could be at risk as international troops get set to withdraw and the government looks to secure a peace deal with the Taliban.

In a new report, Oxfam said women's rights in Afghanistan had made breakthroughs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, highlighted by a sharp rise in the number of girls in school compared to under the Taliban.

Some 42 percent of primary school age girls are now enrolled in school, according to Oxfam.

Oxfam also noted women make up 28 percent of Afghanistan's parliament members, among the highest in the world, although due in part to a quota system.

However, Oxfam cautioned problems persists.

Oxfam said Afghan women are often the victims of violence, noting a key law criminalizing practices such as honor killings and child marriage was only being enforced in 10 of 34 Afghan provinces.

Some 87 percent of Afghan women say they have suffered "physical, sexual, or psychological violence or forced marriage," Oxfam said, while self-immolation still happens.

Oxfam said the Taliban continues to attack girls' schools and limit the movement of women in areas they control.

Oxfam said advances in Afghan women's rights could suffer a setback as foreign troops withdraw.

All 140,000 foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, handing control of security to Afghan forces.

Oxfam also accused the government of President Hamid Karzai of a "willingness to sacrifice women's rights for political ends" to gain the support of hardliners.

Oxfam urged officials to ensure that any future peace deal with the Taliban involves women and guarantees women's rights.

"Women are working as doctors, lawyers, and businesswomen and girls are at school," said report co-author Orzala Ashraf Nemat.

"But what is life going to be like for us in the next 10 years? Already life is getting tougher for Afghan women. Afghan women want peace -- not a stitch-up deal that will confine us to our homes again."

compiled from agency reports