• Afghan women rally to support “threatened” anti-violence law

Afghan women rally to support “threatened” anti-violence law

30 May 2013

Afghan women have been demonstrating in Kabul and London this week in support of a key law protecting Afghan women against violence.

The groundbreaking Elimination of Violence Against Women law (EVAW)  was passed by Presidential decree in 2009.   Among other things it criminalised child marriage, forced marriage, rape, forced self-immolation and many other acts of violence against women

But women’s rights activists say it is now under threat, after a move by female Afghan MP Fawzia Koofi to have it ratified by Afghanistan's parliament backfired. 

Ms Koofi maintained that having parliamentarians endorse the law would ensure it could not be diluted in any future reconciliation talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. 

Many women’s groups had opposed taking the issue to parliamentary debate.  In the end, the debate, held earlier this month, provoked a backlash from conservative parliamentarians, some of whom denounced EVAW as "un-Islamic".  The session ended in disarray; the law was sent  to parliamentary commissions for further consideration.  There were calls for amendments to be made.  Conservative students later took to the streets to denounce the law and call for its repeal.  

BAAG member Womankind Worldwide says Afghan women’s groups now fear that core articles within the law will now be repealed or diluted.  

According to Womankind, “Amending these articles risks defeating the very purpose of the law, to protect women’s human right to a life free from violence.”

Afghan women have been rallying to support EVAW.  Women’s activists held a rally outside the Parliament building in Kabul, while Afghan women living in London demonstrated  outside the Afghan Embassy.  The Afghan Women's Network is demanding that no amendment or changes should be made to the law.  It is calling on the international community to promote the implementation of the law.