Sunday, February 9, 2014

Proposed Law Threatens Safety of Afghan Women

Tribal Ways: Lynsey Addario writes: "Bibi Aisha was 19 when I met her in Kabul's Women
for Afghan Women shelter. Her husband, a Taliban fighter, beat her from the day she was married,
at age 12. After she escaped to seek a neighbor's help, her husband cut off her nose, ears, and hair.
Aisha later came to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery."
Photo Credit: Lynsey Addario; National Geographic
Source: NatGeo

An article, by Eve Conant, in National Geographic says that a new law passed by the Afghan parliament, and awaiting signature by President Hamid Karzai, would act as a negative influence in cases of domestic violence and abuse, thus effectively silencing women. The law says that relatives cannot testify when a woman has been assaulted or raped; given that it is typically a relative who perpetuates the crime, the law effectively sanctions domestic violence against women.

The article is accompanied by striking photos of women, taken by Lynsey Addario.

Conant writes:
Addario first traveled to Afghanistan 14 years ago when it was under Taliban rule and has returned every year since. Over that time, rights and protections for Afghan women have been strengthened, and many women now have access to education and jobs.
But last year, Afghanistan saw a 28 percent increase in reports of attacks against women, according to the UN, with little rise in prosecutions. And now, a small but consequential change to the criminal code could make domestic violence—already rampant in Afghanistan—nearly impossible to prosecute. 
In her 2010 photo essay for National Geographic, "Veiled Rebellion," Addario bore witness to both the abuse and the progress of Afghan women. Her photographs show women maimed by their husbands for small acts of defiance. By contrast, ebullient teachers-in-training are seen picnicking in a women's garden established by a female Afghan governor.
The groundbreaking 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) criminalized acts of child marriage, rape, and other forms of violence against women. But laws are only as effective as their enforcement, and Addario details how the proposed new law could roll back many of the hard-won protections she's documented in recent years.
It seems more conservative, more traditional forces have won favour in this nation that still has tribal leaders deciding and dictating the direction the country will take. Many, it seems, fear women who have access to education and jobs, thus freeing them from their dependency on men. This is not only a woman's right, it is an international human right, whose gains have always been achieved not easily. Fear of change, of progress, is a strong driving emotion that often leads to such consequential decisions; only education will eliminate the fear and ignorance, and the tribal leaders understand this connection all too well.

You can read and see more photos at [NatGeo

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