Activist rally others to protect the rights of women in the northeast

13 Jan 2019

Activist rally others to protect the rights of women in the northeast

KUNDUZ - In an effort to promote the rights of women in the northeastern region, one woman is taking action and rallying others to create a more safer and violent free environment for women.

Nahida Asifi, an official of the Kunduz Department of Women Affairs, has made it her business to fight harassment and violence against women and girls in the province.

Building on the momentum from a series of UN-backed events on women’s rights that she participated in last year, Asifi decided to take action. She recently organized a special training seminar for some 30 female police officers in Kunduz.

“Law enforcement and public awareness on the rights of women are key to preventing and combating harassment of women,” Asifi told UNAMA during an interview in Kunduz city recently. She believes that more education is needed, especially for law enforcement officers on the enforcement of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law.

During several forums in Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar last year, participants cited stereotyping and negative attitudes by law enforcement officials and community members as among major factors that hinder women from reporting violence cases, with many opting instead for informal justice mechanisms such as mediation. 

A recent joint report by UNAMA and OHCHR, ‘Injustice and Impunity: Mediation of Criminal Offences of Violence against Women,’ recommended reforms to protect women and to improve their access to justice. The report expressed concern at the widespread use of mediation in criminal cases of violence against women in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government has made efforts and taken steps to improve the welfare of women and eliminate gender-based violence through legislation including EVAW and the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan. However, a lot remains to be done, particularly in remote areas of the country where harmful traditional practices are still very prevalent and access to justice inadequate.

In the northeastern province, much like the rest of the country, violence and harassment of women is still prevalent. “Every day, when I leave my home I have to listen to frightening and offensive words on the streets until I arrive where I am going,” lamented Samira Mohammadi, a university student in Kunduz.

Asifi recommends advocacy, education and more public awareness of women’s right as long-term and sustainable measures for protecting and advancing the rights of women.

The UN has recommitted itself to support efforts by Afghan institutions and civil society to empower women and girls and to promote the protection of their right to be free from fear, intimidation and all forms of violence.

UNAMA regional office in Kunduz organized a series of events to promote the rights of women in 2018 which were broadcast by media partners Tanweer TV, Radio Roshani and Radio Raihan, to an estimated audience of 800,000 people in and around the provincial capitals of the northeastern provinces.