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Body to protect women’s rights established

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“At a time when many Afghan women are struggling to survive, the NGOs are merely cashing in on the hype of women’s rights.”

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Amid serious concerns over increase in violence cases against women, a new body under the name of “57 Movement” (a cluster of civil society activists) kicked off its activities to advocate women’s rights in Afghanistan.

The 57 Movement on Wednesday formally started its activities in Kabul after introducing its five-year plan.

The civil society body said that it would organize all its activities based on the plan.

Najia Noori, a member of 57 Movement, told newsmen that the organization was established by 57 women to strive for protection of women’s rights and launch public awareness drives in the country.

She said that the newly established body is determined to decrease violence cases against women through advocacy and increase participation of women in the decision-making process in the government.

“Today, women are facing discrimination and violence. They do not have access to justice and higher education in the provinces. Their contribution is very low in leadership and decision-making in the government,” she said.

Sahar Rahmati, another member of the organization, said that the body would carry out its activities in collaboration with different organizations against forced and early marriages, women’s harassment in the public place and domestic violence.

She said that inaccessibility to justice, unawareness about civil rights, unnoticeable role of women in leadership and decision-making, and kangaroo courts by the Taliban insurgents were major barriers in front of women in the past 14 years.

In the past 14 years tens of civil society bodies have been established for women’s rights support, but it seems that they had temporary activities based on financial support of foreign donors.

Nargis Atami, a 25-year old resident of Maidan Wardak province, criticized the civil society bodies for women’s rights protection and said that majority of the organizations have been established to take funds from the donors.

She said, “These organizations raise their voice only in conferences held in expansive hotels of Kabul city while women in the remote parts of the country face many problems but had no participation in the seminars.”

Ms Atami said that the donors should directly invest over women in the rural areas of the country to discourage violence against women and girls.

“International organizations that want to help Afghan women often spend a lot of aid money on overhead that does not go toward helping women in the war-hit country. There are some many NGOs that the country can be referred to as the republic of NGOs. Almost all the organizations that claim working for betterment of Afghan women are spending donations on renting hotels and cars as well as lavish food. At a time when many Afghan women are struggling to survive, the NGOs are merely cashing in on the hype of women’s rights,” she opined.

It is worth to mention that last month, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) released report revealing that cases of women’s killings had doubled in the past six months as compared to the same period of last year.

Commissioner for Women Support Department of the AIHRC, Qadria Yazdanparast, said that the commission documented 190 murder cases, which shows the number of killing cases have spiked significantly in the country in past six months as compared to previous year’s same period.

“Perpetrators of 51 murder cases were arrested and the remaining 139 [73 percent] are on the run. The commission did not record the mentioned cases but it was documented by supporting and expanding women’s rights section,” she said.

The AIHRC recorded 731 cases (28.34 percent) of physical violence, 183 cases (7.10 percent) of rape, 900 cases (34.90 percent) of verbal and mental violence, 550 cases (21.33 percent) of economical violence and 215 (8.34 percent) cases of other types of violence.