Family leaders and access to justice are key to eliminating violence against women
MAIDAN WARDAK – Panelists at UN-backed radio programme in Maidan Wardak province discussed the importance of family leaders and women’s access to formal justice in combating violence against women and protecting their rights.
Participants identified insecurity, harmful practices or traditions, lack of trust in the judiciary and knowledge of their rights, as some of the factors deterring women from approaching legal and judicial organs to find a solution for their problems.
"We have laws on prevention of violence against women, which describe instances of violence against women and prescribe the sentences for perpetrators," said panelist Abdul Qayyum Rastman, civil activist and legal investigator at the Maidan Wardak provincial prosecutor’s office.
The Provincial Director of Women Affairs, Shakela Ghani, warned that, “until women have access to formal justice and there is a gender-responsive justice system, laws and policies alone cannot solve women's problems.”
Looking at the problem from the perspective of the Sharia law, a panelist Maulavi Mirzaman, said that, “Islam honors women and directs people to treat women with respect. In Islam, women are not inferior or unequal to men,” he added. “Let’s not mix Islam with Afghan traditions and cultural practices because Islam has empowered women with very progressive rights,” Mirzaman said.
“If men treat their wives according to Islamic principles, there will be no domestic violence,” agreed Abdul Qayyum Rastman, highlighting also the important role of family leaders in preventing violence.
“When a violent incident happens, a family elder must intervene and resolve the issue, so harm does not continue. If the problem persists, a woman victim of violence should report such incidents to the Department of Women's Affairs, police and the prosecution office and judicial organs. Their cases are then properly investigated and assisted by the relevant departments,” he said.
Maidan Wardak civil rights activist, Karima, agreed that family leaders have a vital role to play in eliminating violence. “They are required to create a domestic environment free of all forms of violence and discrimination.”
Karima called on women to report incidents of violence, “because keeping it a secret, will lead to more violence, even death in extreme cases.”
This programme is part of a series of radio roundtables aiming at enhancing women’s access to the formal justice system and prevent violence against women, as well as providing a platform for Afghans, particularly young women, to discuss how violence against women can be eradicated and enable women to exercise their fundamental rights.
The radio series is being extended to other provinces including Logar, Kapisa, Parwan and Panjshir of the central region in the coming weeks, engaging legal and judicial organizations, women department, human rights defenders.
UNAMA works with various institutions and individuals, including community leaders, youth groups, women and local media stations to create platforms – using radio, social media and television – for Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights. The UN in Afghanistan is an entirely civilian organization delivering its mandate with impartiality, according to the UN Charter.