Improving the ability of women victims of violence to access the justice system was the theme of a UN-backed TV discussion in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Laghman.
The televised discussion took place in Mehtarlam, the capital of Lagham province and was broadcast via Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) Laghman to an estimated audience of 400,000 people in the eastern provinces. Similar events took place recently in eastern Nangarhar and Kunar provinces.
During the event, a panel of specialists highlighted the key recommendations of a recent UN report, Justice through the eyes of Afghan Women, which called for access to justice for women victims of violence in Afghanistan to be strengthened.
Panel members also responded to audience questions, which ranged from the impact of awareness-raising programmes to the capacity of law-enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute cases of violence.
A number of organizations were represented on the panel including the provincial department of women’s affairs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the criminal investigation section of the national police department, the provincial council and the local prosecutor’s office.
Panelist Abdul Raziq Hamidi, an Ombudsman in the eastern regional office of AIHRC, said that awareness-raising programmes are making a difference for women, especially in rural areas.
Mr. Hamidi said that during the last few years, honour killings and Baad (the practice of offering women or girls in the process of settling a dispute), have decreased throughout the region, including Laghman province.
Participants raised their ideas on how to protect basic rights of women and girls, and how to further empower women. Haji Samiullah, 60, an elder from Qarghayee district for example, pointed to the benefits of local authorities working closely with local councils on women’s rights issues.
A number of participants saw a need for more women rights support centers for victims of violence and a stronger response by law enforcement institutions towards crimes committed against women and girls.
The discussion was organized by the regional office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in collaboration with AIHRC and RTA Laghman. 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.