Monday, May 30, 2005

Abuse of Women Rampant in Afghanistan

Amnesty International reports that in Afghanistan,
"hundreds of thousands of women and girls continue to suffer abuse at the hands of their husbands, fathers, brothers, armed individuals, parallel legal systems, and institutions of the state itself such as the police and the justice system. There are reported increases in forced marriages; some women in difficult situations have even killed themselves to escape such a heinous situation whilst others burn themselves to death to draw attention to their plight.
Husbands, brothers and fathers are the main perpetrators of violence in the home but the social control and the power that they exercise is reinforced by the authorities, whether of the state or from informal justice systems such as shuras and jirgas. Members of factional and militia forces are also responsible for perpetrating violence. In some instances, female members of the family have a role in upholding patriarchal structures, and may also commit violence. However, male members of society perpetrate the overwhelming majority of acts of violence against women.
Violence against women is widely tolerated by the community and widely practiced. It is tolerated at the highest levels of government and judiciary. Abusers are rarely prosecuted; if cases are prosecuted, the accused are often exonerated or punished lightly. Impunity seems to exist for such violence. The authorities seldom carry out investigations into complaints of violent attacks, rape, murders or suicides of women. Women who report rape face being locked up and accused of having committed crimes of zina. Laws frequently discriminate against women and are otherwise inadequate to protect the rights of women."
According to Daniel Cooney of AP, the Afghan government does not dispute this. Nooria Haqnagar, a spokewoman for the Afghan Women's Affairs Ministry, says,"In some remote areas, men deal with women like animals." She said that despite government efforts to improve the lives of women, reported abuse cases have increased in recent months. In extreme cases, "women are burning themselves to escape abuse. They must have hugs problems to take such violent measure against themselves," she said.

I recognize that there's really very little the Bush Administration can do about things like this. What the Bush people can do, however, is shut their damn pie holes about "freedom on the march" and the grand success of Afghanistan until something approaching freedom and equality actually starts to manifest itself there.
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