Greater protection of women from violence and legal action against perpetrators of violence should be among the key benefits of Afghanistan’s Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, according to panelists at a UN-backed event in Kandahar.
The Institute of War and Peace Reporting and United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) brought together male participants from civil society, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the judiciary as part of ongoing efforts to promote women’s rights.
The panelists asked the audience of 25, mainly university students, to continue the discussion after the event with their friends and classmates.
The event focused on issues related to Afghanistan’s 2009 EVAW law which criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women, including child and forced marriages, rape and beating, and specifies punishment for perpetrators.
Mr. Neamathullah Nalan, one of the panelists, said that women in Afghanistan face scores of challenges, including torture, intimidation, harassment, forced marriages and marriages at a very young age.
Cases of violence are commonplace in Kandahar and other areas of the country, with hundreds of cases of violence against women believed unregistered because of victims’ fear of retribution. Many people may be unaware of their legal obligations or bound by traditional and cultural practices.
Panelists stressed that civil society organizations, women’s rights groups, Mullah Imams, intellectuals and educated people have a duty to raise awareness about the EVAW law and to remove a misconception that it is against Islam.
Mr. Muzafar Ghorzang, a Judge at the City Court of Kandahar, said that the law itself is not against Islam or Afghan civil law and it is drafted for people’s welfare.
The Government of Afghanistan gave legislative effect to its constitutional commitment to ensure gender equality through enactment of the EVAW law in August 2009.