Improving Afghan women’s access to justice was the focus of discussions among rights experts at a UNAMA-organized meeting in Bamyan province.
Representatives of the provincial court and prosecutor’s office, defense lawyers, human rights experts, female police officers, Islamic scholars and women rights activists participated in the one day event.
UNAMA Human Rights officials underscored the major challenges and key recommendations of a recent UN report, Justice through the eyes of Afghan women.
The report documents the individual experience of 110 Afghan women victims of violence who sought justice through the judicial system and through non-judicial mechanisms, including mediation, between August 2014 and February 2015.
Major challenges facing women’s access to justice in Afghanistan include gaps in the existing legal framework, lack of standardized regulations for mediation, weakness of the criminal justice system, harmful traditional practices, lack of enforcement of mediated agreements and economic vulnerability.
Meeting participants stressed women’s economic dependency and the weak legal protection of their property and other rights as key factors impeding survivors of violence from taking action against abusers.
“The main factor and vulnerability for women is economic dependency that forces women to keep silent and accept any sort of violence,” said Nahid Rezai, a female police officer in Bamyan.
Rohullah Frogh, Head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Right Commission in Bamyan, said there is a need for the Government and International community to design and implement income generation programs that directly benefit vulnerable women.
The UN report recommends the Government adopt legal, institutional and policy reforms to better protect Afghan women facing violence. These include expanding civil remedies available, strengthening the capacity of the criminal justice system to protect survivors, adopting common standards across judicial mechanisms as well as using mediation and applying the 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women more effectively.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and relevant international and local non-governmental organizations to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights.