UN report: Afghanistan must stop practices that harm women
Afghanistan must eliminate pervasive traditional practices that violate the human rights of women, a report by the United Nations said Thursday.
The report published by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said traditional practices like child marriages, forced marriages, "honor killings" and giving away girls to settle disputes were rampant, DPA reported.
"These harmful practices are widespread, occurring in varying degrees in all communities, urban and rural, and among all ethnic groups and these practices have been worsened by more than 30 years of insecurity and poverty," Georgette Gagnon, UNAMA's director of human rights, told a press conference.
The practices are rooted in discriminatory views and beliefs about the role and position of women in society, Gagnon said.
The report said such customs are not only crimes under Afghan law but also inconsistent with Islamic law.
It said religious and community leaders sometimes reinforced the customs by invoking their interpretation of Islam. The report said those leaders were key to ending such practices.
The plight of women has seen little change since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001 after a US-led invasion and it remains one of the biggest challenges, according to human rights activists.
Only 12 per cent of adult women are literate compared to 40 per cent of adult men. According to a United Nations Development Fund for Women report published in April, almost one-third of women are exposed to physical and psychological violence, while an estimated 25 per cent suffer sexual violence.
The report published Thursday condemned the Afghan government's inability to fully protect the rights of women and girls, asking it to expedite the implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
"The Afghan police and judiciary require far more guidance, support and oversight from national-level authorities on how to properly apply the law," Gagnon said.
Underage marriage, one of the issues raised by the report, is common, in all regions and among all ethnic groups. The report said half of all girls are married under the age of 15.
"As long as women and girls are subject to practices that harm, degrade and deny them their human rights, little meaningful and sustainable progress for women's rights can be achieved in Afghanistan," the UN official said.