UN Urges Consistent Use of Afghan Women’s Rights Law

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 6:25 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations is calling for more consistent enforcement of a law meant to protect the rights of Afghan women, saying the measure has only been used in a small percentage of cases.

In a report released Wednesday, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan and the U.N. human rights office said Afghan prosecutors opened cases in 26 percent of incidents involving violence against women. The report says judges based their decisions on the law in only four percent of cases.

The law enacted in 2009 criminalizes child marriage, forced marriage, forced self-immolation and 17 other forms of violence against women, including rape and beating.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Afghanistan has a “very long way to go” before women are fully protected by the law.

The U.N. report says that many of the cases are withdrawn or prosecuted under other systems, including Sharia law, sometimes resulting in women themselves being accused of “moral crimes.”

The report also recommends the Afghan government work to raise awareness of the law among both men and women, and to instruct officials to apply the law consistently.

The director of the Afghan Women's Network, Huria Samira Hamidi, said Afghan women also need to play a role in making sure the law is carried out.

The head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, said the progress of women in the country during the past 10 years is being eroded by the uneven use of the law.