UN urges Afghan government to protect women
The United Nations on Wednesday urged the Afghan government to "fully and promptly" implement laws to eliminate violence against women, DPA reported.
"As long as women and girls in Afghanistan are subject to violence with impunity, little meaningful and sustainable progress for women's rights can be achieved in the country," said Georgette Gagnon, Director of Human Rights for United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
In November, the UN released a 33-page report that found the Afghan government rarely implements the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, which was introduced in 2009.
"Ensuring rights for Afghan women - such as their participation in public life, including in the peace and reconciliation process and equal opportunities in education and employment - requires not only legal safeguards on paper, but critically, speedy and full enforcement of the EVAW law," Gagnon said in a statement the day before Women's Day, which falls on Thursday.
The landmark law criminalizes practices like child and forced marriages, selling and buying women for marriage, giving women or girls away to settle family disputes, and more than a dozen other acts of violence against women including beating.
"In spite of these legal protections under the EVAW law and other constitutional safeguards for women, violence against women and girls remains pervasive in Afghanistan with an inconsistent response from Afghan authorities," the UN said in the statement.
According to a UN figure, about one-third of Afghan women are exposed to physical or psychological violence.
Last week, the Islamic religious Ulema Council of Afghanistan asked the government to forbid Afghan women to travel without a close male relative or work with men who are not relatives.
Many fear the government could bow to demands by Taliban insurgents to implement strict Islamic laws in any peace talks aimed at ending the conflict.
Before the US invasion in 2001, the Taliban government prevented Afghan women from leave the house without a burka and a close male relative.
The Afghan government last month asked women television presenters to wear headscarves and to avoid heavy make-up after members of the upper house of parliament complained about non-compliance with Islamic ethics.