Violence Against Women in Afghanistan

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Update on violence against women in Afghanistan Prior to the rise in the Taliban, women in Afghanistan were protected under law and increasingly afforded rights in Afghan society. Women received the right to vote in the 1920’s, and as early as the 1960’s the Afghan constitution provided equality for women. In 1977, women comprised over 15% of Afghanistan’s highest legislative body. It is estimated that by the early 1990’s, 70% of schoolteachers, 50% of government workers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women. The assault on the status of women began immediately after the Taliban took power in Kabul. The Taliban closed the women’s university and forced nearly all women to quit their jobs. It restricted access to medical care for women, brutally enforced a restrictive dress code, and limited the ability of women to move about the city. The Taliban committed horrible acts of violence against women, including rape, abduction, and forced marriage. Some families resorted to sending their daughters to Pakistan or Iran to protect them. The Taliban’s discriminatory policies violate many of the basic principles of international human rights law. These rights include the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, the right to work, the right to education, freedom of movement, and the right to health care. The discrimination that Afghan women face is so overwhelming that it is literally life threatening for many Afghan women. Many Afghans feel enormous anxiety as the 2014 deadline for withdrawing international combat forces from Afghanistan looms and warlords and other powerbrokers aim for position. The powerful, when implicated in serious abuses, are almost never held to account, and the justice system fails ordinary Afghans. Torture is rampant in detention facilities. The Afghan government’s failure to tackle discrimination and respond effectively to
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