Ending violence against women the focus of UN campaign in western Afghanistan

5 Jan 2017

Ending violence against women the focus of UN campaign in western Afghanistan

HERAT - The critical importance of ending gender-based violence was at the centre of a UN-backed information campaign conducted through the end of 2016 in Afghanistan’s western provinces of Herat, Ghor, Badghis and Farah.

The campaign, backed by the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), began in November 2016 and took the format of televised roundtable discussions, radio debates and public gatherings.

“Bringing together several hundred people, including women and girls, men and boys, as well as government officials and civil society activists, the campaign was designed to raise awareness about violence against women and highlight its impact on the socio-economic development of the community,” said Sia Mawalla, a UNAMA’s Human Rights official working in the western region.

According to the departments of Women’s Affairs in Herat, Badghis, Farah and Ghor, more than 600 cases of battery, forced marriage, rape, murder and psychological violence against women were registered by police departments and legal institutions in the region.

The campaign was designed to address violence against women by raising awareness about the women’s rights and also by highlighting the community-level impact of violence against women. In addition, the campaign brought together religious scholars to discuss the issue from an Islamic perspective.

In one of the roundtable discussions in the province of Herat, 13 religious scholars declared violence against women inconsistent with Islamic values.

“Islam accepts equality of both men and women in education and other aspects of people’s life,” said Mawlawi Ghulam Muhammad Najibi, the head of Karukh’s Ulema Shura. “Violence against women became rampant in Afghanistan after three decades of war, where there has been lack of action against perpetrators and lack of awareness of women’s rights by community members.”

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.