• UN: "Still a Long Way to Go" to protect Afghan women

UN: "Still a Long Way to Go" to protect Afghan women

11 December 2012

A new UN report says many Afghan women still face challenges in accessing justice, despite some progress in implementing a 2009 anti-violence law.

"Still a Long Way to Go," released by UNAMA today, says that although Afghan prosecutors are increasingly applying the Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women, its overall use remains low. 

It says this indicates "there is still a long way to go before women and girls are fully protected from violence through the law".

The report finds that incidents of violence against Afghan women remain largely unreported for many reasons, including cultural restraints and taboos, religious beliefs, fear of social stigma, or even "threat to life". 

It says insecurity and a weak rule of law further hamper women's access to formal justice institutions.  Incidents reaching official or public attention, it said,  "represent the tip of the iceberg of incidents of violence against women throughout the country".

It adds that "Law enforcement authorities sometimes do not take violence against women cases seriously and act on them very slowly," sometimes suggesting that they should be dealt with at the family and community level.  Prosecuting  perpetrators of violence against women is often "not a priority"  for the judiciary.

The law on Elimination of Violence Against Women criminalised child marriage, forced marriage, forced self-immolation and many other acts of violence against women, including rape.

However, the report notes that women and girls continued to be wrongly prosecuted for " moral crimes" such as running away from home to escape violence or forced marriage.

The UN collected information from 22 out of Afghanistan's 34 provinces over a 12 month period ending in September to establish how well the law was being implemented