Afghan women fear loss of shelters as funding dwindles

As Afghanistan slides back into chaos, with a resurgent Taliban and dwindling international aid, many fear that the country’s women’s shelters could be forced to close, leaving those who rely on them at the mercy of an often harshly conservative society. ( Kabul, May 4, 2017, Associated Press )

Nearly 30 shelters across the country — a legacy of the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban — provide food, refuge and education for women abused by their husbands or male relatives. The shelters also offer safety to women at risk of so-called honor killings, or of being sold into marriage to repay debts, a still-common practice.

A 19-year-old at one such shelter in Kabul fled western Afghanistan after her father tried to trade her to another family for marriage in return for a young bride following the death of his wife. In the four years since she fled, she has learned to read and write, as well as how to sew, and is now teaching the other women.

She’s had no contact with her father since she ran away, and fears that if the shelter closes she would have to live on the streets. “There are men who mistreat and abuse girls and women who have no place to live,” she said, asking that her name not be used for fear of retribution from her family.

More than 15 years after the Taliban were overthrown, Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative country where women are largely confined to their homes. Their situation is even worse in the several districts of the country seized by the Taliban, who are more powerful than at any point since 2001.

Last month, the Taliban attacked an army base in the northern Balkh province, killing more than 140 security forces in one of the deadliest attacks launched since the extremists were overthrown.

The deteriorating security situation, and the shrinking footprint of the U.S. and NATO mission, has forced many aid agencies to scale back their activities in the still desperately poor country. U.N. agencies and global aid groups are meanwhile severely overstretched as they try to address the massive fallout from the Syrian civil war and other global crises.

That has raised concerns about the future of the shelters, which house an estimated 2,000 women at any given time.

Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan, or HAWCA, an NGO that has been operating a women’s shelter in Kabul since 2004, launched an emergency appeal for funding in March after it was told it might lose support from the U.N. The U.N. funding was later extended for another three months, until the end of June, but concerns remain.

The shelter provides aid and refuge to around 300 women a year, and has a monthly operating budget of $14,000. The emergency appeal raised just $13,500.

The government operates no shelters of its own. Kobra Rezaei, a spokeswoman for the Women’s Affairs Ministry, says it has asked President Ashraf Ghani to allocate funds for protecting women, including through shelters, but that no money has been forthcoming. Government spokesmen declined to comment.

Conservative religious leaders in Afghanistan have long railed against the shelters, saying they contribute to immorality among women and girls and encourage divorce. Many shelters, including those run by HAWCA, operate in secret locations.

A 16-year-old girl at a Kabul shelter, who also asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said she came there to escape her husband, who was twice her age, jobless and mentally unstable. The shelter helped her to get a divorce, but her own family won’t take her back.

“I don’t have anywhere, and there are thousands of other women like me, who have no one and no place to go,” she said.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/04/afghan-women-fear-loss-shelters-as-funding-dwindles.html

 

Afghan women seek refuge in safe houses

The whole concept of such shelters remains controversial in this deeply conservative country writes Salma Rasa.

The beatings began soon after Zahra, now 22, was married off to a 75-year old man in exchange for a large bride price.

 “My father was blinded by money and he gave me in marriage to this man,” she told IWPR. “Every time my husband was violent to me, his family members used to tell me, ‘Your husband has these rights over you, you should put up with it.’

“On many nights during the cold winter I was dragged out of the house for no reason, my hands and feet were tied with chains and I was forced to spend the whole night outside the back door in the snow, and no one would help me.”

The abuse became so severe that eventually Zahra’s case was brought before a community Jirga, or council of elders, for resolution.

But their intervention made no difference, and Zahra was forced to flee her marriage and take take refuge in a women’s shelter in Kabul, one of a handful of safe houses that NGOs have set up across the country.

Zahra, who managed to get a divorce from her husband, said she was happy living at the women’s refuge. Her family, however, wanted her to return home.

“I’m pleased with my life here, but my family still doesn’t leave me alone and says I should leave the safe house,” she explained. “I want my family to let me be and let me live my own way, because my life belongs to me and I need to decide my own future.”

In Afghanistan, women facing forced marriage or domestic abuse have few options. If they escape and ask for help from the police, they face either being returned or imprisoned, as Afghan women who run away from home or refuse to get married are commonly accused of “moral crimes”, a vague concept that does not exist in formal law.

Sometimes community elders are asked to intervene or host the runaway, but this is only a very short-term solution.

The idea of a safe house is to provide emergency accommodation where women and girls at risk can access legal advice and healthcare. Mediation is also available.

Nazia Faizi, head of the department of women’s protection centres, said that the first such refuge was set up in 2002, the year after the fall of the Taleban regime.

Since then 12 safe houses have been built in Kabul, Herat, Kapisa and Nangarhar province and are currently hosting some 600 women.

Faizi said that girls and women were not referred to a safe house with the intention of separating them from their family. It was rather an opportunity for them to resolve their differences and solve their problems through dialogue. This was not possible when a woman’s life and safety was at risk.

She explained that women received psychological and medical services during their stay in the safe house, and a lawyer was hired to defend their rights.

Literacy courses, vocational training and religious education were also provided, and women who wanted to return to study were referred to appropriate institutions.

Taahirah Faizi, a psychologist who visits the west Kabul safe house twice a work to work with the women there, said the aim was to support women in overcoming their trauma.

“We prepare women psychologically to be active in society and stand on their own feet once again, and it’s up to them if they want to return to their families,” she said.

But the whole concept of women’s refuges remains controversial in deeply conservative Afghanistan.

Some argue that they encourage women to leave their families and lead to immoral behavior, and persistent rumours circulate that women are often sexually abused inside the refuges. 

In June 2012, the then Afghan justice minister, Habibullah Ghaleb, told female parliamentarians that shelters were “centres of prostitution”. He later apologised after coming under a barrage of criticism from human rights groups.

Negative attitudes remain, however.

“The creation of safe houses in Afghanistan, which is a conservative society, has caused more social and family problems than it has solved,” said Sayed Abdul Ghafar Ibrahimi, a lawyer.

He claimed that women felt free to make trouble at home since they were confident of finding shelter at a safe house. This in turn led to the break up of families.

In addition, Ibrahimi argued that women’s refugees were viewed by the public as a foreign concept, incompatible with Afghan traditions, and called for the government to take a more active role in supervising them. Otherwise, he continued, they risked further alienating citizens from state institutions.

But others argue that establishing places of safety for women was essential in a society rife with gender violence.

“The Afghan government must work to strength and improve the rule of law in society, so that women get their rights and it won’t be necessary to brought them to safe houses,” said Sayed Maroof Jahid Hashimi, a lawyer. “But we can see that the dominant culture in our society, especially in villages and small towns, violates [young women’s] rights.

“Since women in the country are deprived of the authority to make decisions, and it’s men who rule and decide the fate of the entire family, women need government intervention to achieve their rights.”

“The rumours that safe houses are morally corrupt are completely false and I deny them,” agreed Shabnam Sima, head of women’s affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

She noted that the AIHRC, the ministry of women’s affairs and the police all referred women to safe houses for their own protection.

Any allegations of sexual impropriety in a safe house would be thoroughly investigated, she insisted. If the allegations were proved, the refuge would be shut down.

But Sima said that such tales of abuse were simply malicious rumours spread by perpetrators of domestic violence whose victims were forced to seek refuge in safe houses.

Some women do complain about the treatment they received at safe houses.

Madina, 17, said that her experience at a safe house in the west of Kabul had not been positive. She had fled her in-laws house, explaining that soon after she got married in December last year, her mother-in-law began drugging her to drug her to make her sleep with unknown men.

She explained that after she was betrothed to her future husband Yama, who was living in the Netherlands, she discovered that he was already married man and had teenage children.

“I fought with Yama to break off the engagement, but he deceived me with his lies and slept with me before we were married,” she said.

 “When my husband went back to Holland, my mother-in-law used to drug me so that I could be sexually abused by men. She told me that I had to take these pills to stay beautiful, but they were sleeping pills so I passed out.”

“One day when I had not taken any tablets – it was only nine in the morning – two men entered our house. They looked at me and said, ‘She’s normal today.’ I wondered what they were talking about, and realized that they had evil intentions towards me. When they came close I cried and screamed and all three of them began to beat me.”

Madina escaped and made it to a police station. From there she was taken to a safe house.

“Although there were scars on my body and my hand was injured, instead of treating me, I was abused with all kinds of vulgar language at the safe house,” she said.

Shamila, 23, spent eight months in a Kabul safe house and also said that it had been a frightening and intimidating experience.

“Women in safe houses fight among themselves, they are seeking dominance and supremacy over each other, from chairman to lawyer all are abuse women with ugly language,” she said, adding, “Families should treat their daughters well so that they don’t end up in safe houses.”

Benafsha Afaf is head of Women for Women in Afghanistan, an NGO working across 13 provinces of the country, said that nonetheless numbers of applicants for spaces in refuges were rising.

She said, “Since the beginning of 2007, the number of women referred to safe houses has been increasing.”

Afaf said that women could spend between six months and a year in a safe house, during which time they were supported by government funds.

As far as the allegation that safe houses were detrimental to women’s welfare, she said that there would be no need to provide a place of refuge if families and communities did not abuse women and girls.

Faizi, of the department of women’s protection centres, acknowledged that it was hard to combat rumours that safe houses were a western plot to undermine Afghan society when they were supported by foreign donors with little government oversight.

Up to now, the state had lacked the resources to fund their own refuges, but Faizi said that the ministry of women had proposed this as a alternative relying on the services of NGOs and had receved a positive response. She said that the president had indicated that state-run refuges would be set up in the future. 

This report was produced under IWPR’s Promoting Human Rights and Good Governance in Afghanistan initiative, funded by the European Union Delegation to Afghanistan.

See original post HERE:

 

250 women graduate from Kabul police academy

At least two hundred and fifty policewomen graduated from the police academy in Kabul after completing their courses over a period of two months.

A ceremony was organized in Kabul police academy to celebrate the graduation of the policewomen.

Several key government officials, including the chief of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan Dr. Seema Samar attended the graduation ceremony of the policewomen.

Dr. Samar emphasized on the critical need of policewomen in maintaining security and stability and added that the addition of the newly graduated policewomen into the framework of the Ministry of Interior will play a vital role.

She said the policewomen have a great resolve to eliminate the threats posed by the internal and external terrorist groups, insisting that the Afghan people as always hail their role as they stand should to should with their brothers to serve the country.

The general commander of Kabul police academy Gen. Abdul Jabar Pardeli pointed towards the growing professionalism adopted by the Afghan National Police and said the academy has stepped up efforts more than any other time to provide professional training to the police cadets.

Gen. Pardeli further added that the newly graduates have already been trained for a period of six months in Turkey and the two months courses will further help to improve their grading.

According to Gen. Pardeli, the Ministry of Interior has considered promotion to those policewomen who are having Bachelors degree.

 See original article in Khaama Press HERE.

Farkhunda Trust Anniversary Event – SOAS

On the 29th March 2017, the Farkhunda Trust, in collaboration with the SOAS Afghan Society, held the second anniversary event of the London Vigil that took place in Trafalgar Square on the same date in 2015. The main aim of the event was to raise awareness of the very issues the organisation wishes to tackle and to promote, engage and advance Farkhunda Trust’s mission to get as many disadvantaged yet bright Afghan girls into higher education. The Trust was set up through an initial grant from V-Day/One Billion Rising and continues its work with the support of Tides Foundation, volunteers, British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG), fundraising events, handicraft-raffle tickets and most importantly through Afghan and British friends personal contributions to the £1 a month fundraising campaign.

Organized and run by a group of incredibly engaged young Afghan-British women, Yusefi, Sahar Yusefi, Ghatoul Sediqi, Dina Wahage, Sunbul Azizzada, the 29th March event included highly-esteemed guest speakers who inspired us with their thoughts and their show of commitment to our organization.

After an informative and well delivered speech by our founder Ms. Rahela Sidiqi, and the volunteers, Mr. Mohammad Asif Noorzai, Consular from the Afghanistan Embassy, kick-started the event as the first speaker who promised his full support and commitment to our £1 a month campaign, strongly encouraging the audience and the wider Afghan community to follow in his generous footsteps and contribute.

Our second speaker was the Vice Chancellor of Dunya University, Mr. Ahmad Shah Sankdel, who had come all the way from Kabul for our event. Mr Sankdel gave a wonderfully inspiring speech congratulating and encouraging the support and dedication of the Afghans

in the diaspora to their home, their people and the issues that strike at the heart of the households of Afghanistan, including financial instability and a lack of access to education. He concluded his speech by promising the admission and scholarship of an additional 3 scholars with zero tuition to come and study at Dunya University.

Our third speaker was the Founder of Afghan Voice Radio, Gharghasht Gharghakht, who gave a speech on the importance of using media in a way that is beneficial and positive. He also cast open the issues that are at the centre of the Afghan community, focusing on missed opportunities which fit precisely with Farkhunda Trust’s ethos. “We will regret as a society the things we could have done to help those whose shoes could easily be ours, whose destinies could easily be our own.”

Our last speaker of the evening – but certainly not the least – was the Founder of Avizeh Jewellery, an inspiring and incredibly creative young Afghan- British woman and entrepreneur. She began her speech by expressing gratitude for the support she has received and for her invitation to speak. Miss Avizeh appealed to the youngsters of the audience by focusing her talk on what constitutes an entrepreneurial spirit. She shared with us the very values and disciplines, such as confidence and inherent creativity, that has given birth to the outstanding success of her business. She also spoke with our founder, Mrs Sidiqi to offer £1 from each sale of her business.

In addition to our speakers, we had notable contributions from guests such as Jawed Ahmadzai who promised to introduce universities for next year to grant more students, access to higher education.

Critically acclaimed Afghan filmmaker, Assad Sekandar, also promised to produce a documentary for Farkhunda Trust, sounding very promising indeed and for which we are massively grateful.

Mr Gharghakht introduced more volunteers including Meral Alizada who has now launched a charity skydiving campaign for the Farkhunda Trust to ensure substantial progress in achieving its short and long-term goals.

Fortunately, the event received a great turnout with both esteemed guest speakers and audience members, and we received positive feedback and encouraging words and comments.

We would like to add as a final point, a huge conveyance of our gratitude for the support we receive daily through emails, messages and our social media outlets.

No young girl should be stripped of her absolute right to an education and together, we can be the collective force that will grant the education of an entire generation.

Thank you very much.

Herat’s silent killer

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death for Afghan women, but there is little public awareness of the disease writes  Marzia Husseini

In a dark, narrow hallway at the Herat breast cancer treatment centre, women with anxious faces wait for their diagnose.

Nafas Gul (not her real name), a woman in her forties, said that she had been in pain for a long time but the cost of seeing a doctor meant that she had not sought medical advice. She also said that she had not realised that the problem might be cancer.

“My right breast has been painful for the past two years,” she told IWPR. “It has grown very swollen. I had an ultrasound and I’m waiting for the result. I hope I don’t have cancer.”

Alongside her in the waiting room, Fatima is weeping, apprehensive about the fate of her daughter-in-law.

“My daughter-in-law’s breast has recently become very painful. At first we didn’t pay any attention to it, we didn’t know [it could be dangerous]. We came to the centre today to find out the diagnosis. Let’s pray that the result is negative.”

Officials at Herat’s only breast cancer clinic say that patient numbers are soaring, although they have few diagnostic resources and no treatment facilities.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death for women in Afghanistan after maternal mortality. But there is little public awareness around the issue, including encouraging women to be vigilant for signs which include breast lumps, swelling, changes in colour or texture and a nipple that is inverted or bleeding. There are no routine screenings or treatment available at the primary health care level.

The Herat centre’s head of mammography, Sayyida Sayyid, said that her clinic had seen more than 1,100 women since the beginning of the last solar year ten months ago.

Of these, she said, “300 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer, out of whom 40 have been sent abroad for treatment as they were in a critical condition.”

Although the existence of the clinic was little known outside the provincial centre, Sayyid said that numbers of patients were rising year on year.

“We had 58 visitors in 1393 [2014/15], out of which nine of them were diagnosed with cancer. In 1394[2015/16], we had 1,053 visitors with 384 people diagnosed with cancer, out of which 31 were sent abroad [for treatment].”

However, she noted that the clinic was only equipped with ultrasound and mammography devices and had no surgery or chemotherapy facilities, although there were plans in process to create a pathology service and send doctors to Italy for further diagnostic training.

There were no other facilities in Herat to treat breast cancer, and only limited resources for treatment in the capital, Kabul.

Afghan ministry of public health figures show that 3,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Afghanistan each year. The minister of public health, Ferozuddin Feroz, told a national workshop on breast cancer five months ago that the disease was fatal in 1,700 of these cases.

The minister stressed that breast cancer could be treated if diagnosed in time.

“Based on the national health programme, the ministry of health has pledged to lower the level of breast cancer through awareness for women, using simple methods for diagnosis of the disease, training of health personnel, and establishing of diagnosis and treatment centres for the disease,” he said.

In Herat, provincial council members say that the local department of public health should itself take the initiative to raise awareness about the disease.

“I can say without hesitation that the women who have sought treatment at the centre found out about it through personal contacts, otherwise, nothing would have been done,” said Sakina Husseini, who sits on the council.

She conceded that she herself was yet to pay an official visit to the centre, adding, “I have only seen its sign and that’s all.”

Local health officials said that they were doing their best to boost both diagnostic capacity and train more specialists.

Asif Kabir, deputy director of public health, said, “The work done by the department on this issue so far has been to prepare the mammography facility. We have coordinated with partners in Germany and a number of doctors will be sent there for pathology training. The association of surgeons has also promised to cooperate.”

Mahbuba Jamshidi, the director of women’s affairs in Herat, said that her department hoped to launch its own educational programmes about the disease.

She said that her own department were happy to work with women’s rights’ defenders to raise awareness, but said that they needed the support of the local department of public health to begin.

And she stressed that even if women understood the warning signs of breast cancer, there was no hope of treatment within the province.

“Unfortunately, we do not have a specific unit to treat the disease in Herat,” she said. “Some facilities have been planned but only in the capital.”

This report was produced under IWPR’s Promoting Human Rights and Good Governance in Afghanistan initiative, funded by the European Union Delegation to Afghanistan.

 

https://iwpr.net/global-voices/afghanistans-silent-killer

Women’s Day, Afghan Style: Headscarves and flowers

The other day I was on the street reporting on a suicide bombing. Policemen and even some of the male journalists at the scene kept asking what I was doing, as if I were engaged in work unbecoming of a woman. The nicer ones were worried I would be scarred by the experience, and couldn’t handle it. The ruder ones felt I was stepping out of my lane.

One official suggested that it was dangerous for me to be out that late at night.

It isn’t easy being a woman journalist in Afghanistan; it isn’t easy being a woman here, for that matter. But for many Afghan women, that is not what comes across in all these celebrations. It often appears that many institutions use Women’s Day to show a liberal face, but just for a day.

“On every International Women’s Day, I keep thinking more of how suppressed we are within this patriarchal society,” said Sahar Fetrat, a filmmaker and women’s activist. “The symbolic celebrations, flowers, gifts and some words of empathy and sympathy are always given to women every 8th of March while on the same day, sexism, inequality, harassment and violence against women screams from all the streets and corners of this country.”

Women’s activists say that donors find it easy to give money for celebrations, which no one criticizes, while it’s much harder to support programs that produce real — and therefore controversial — change.

“We do not want to get flowers and head scarves,” said Zubaida Akbar, an advocate for women’s rights. “Instead, respect us as humans.”

Nearly a billion dollars of foreign aid to Afghanistan, maybe more, has gone into programs meant to make women’s lives better. But according to a new report by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, violence against women has increased 8.6 per cent this year.

Still, while many women scoff at the gift of head scarves, at least, they acknowledge, they are not being given burqas.

First anti-harassment law and why it should be amended

In November 2016, Parliament passed a law to protect women and children against harassment. A great step forward, but not enough.

Legal aid organization, Medica Afghanistan, led a Petition to His Excellency President Ashraf Ghani, to amend the anti-harassment law, in Kabul, on 19 February 2017.

Many called it a “courageous” act, to bring up the matter through an official Petition to the Presidential Palace. Medica’s Executive Director, Humaira Rasuli says:

 

 

 

“For us, it was absolutely necessary. The government has asked us to provide critical and technical reasoning. So we took up the challenge. My lawyers interviewed and spoketo lawyers and judges from India, Nepal and Singapore to learn from their experiences. We also reviewed many laws. We also learned a lot from technical meetings with the Afghanistan Ministry of Justice held between August- October, 2016.

The Petition drew from lessons learned by Medica’s legal cases, as well as, the laws of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, and their impact on women’s lives on the ground.

Like many countries, women and children in Afghanistan are sexually harassed daily, causing them to fear their surroundings, suffer mental trauma, resign from their jobs and drop out of school and social activity. Medica’s legal and psychosocial teams handle these cases on a daily basis.

“The effects of trauma from sexual harassment can last very long. Our clients say that they feel like they lose control over their bodies…” says one of Medica’s psychologists.

Medica also provides psychosocial support to women who experience violence and sees sexual harassment, as a serious public health issue.

The law seems to have been passed with good intentions. However, the Petition warns against loosely drafted laws which might end up harming women, instead of helping them. The Petition described the law as incomplete, replete with errors and largely unenforceable. It forewarns that the law, however well-intentioned, may lead to mishandling of complaints and cause harm to survivors who are depending on the law for redress and justice.

The team of lawyers who are leading the Petition, says: “The focus of the law should not just be to punish. Before and after the incident, it is necessary and important to ensure that there are protective measures for women. Also, we need to do a lot of awareness raising sessions and use the media to let people know about the law, once it is amended.”

Medica Afghanistan PRESS RELEASE

*

A supporter of the Petition who does not wish to be named shared: “The law vaguely define harassment and its different types. It does not protect survivors. And the cash fine and sentences are very basic.”

It is not too late to sign the Petition, which you can do so by clicking here or copying this link into your browser:

[https://www.change.org/p/amend-the-anti-sexual-harassment-law-of-afghanistan]

For further information, please contact:

Yalda Ahmadi

Phone: +93(0)793 200 524

Email: lap.lawyers@medica-afghanistan.org

Website:www.medicaafghanistan.org

اولین قانون منع آزار واذیت جنسی زنان و اطفال در کشور که ضرورت به باز نگری دارد

قانون منع آزار واذیت جنسی زنان و اطفال به تاریخ 91 عقرب 9911 در سه فصل و 91 ماده توسط پارلمان کشور به تصویب رسید که یک قدم بزرگ به پیشروی میباشد ولی هنوز هم کافی نیست. از این رو موسسه مدیکا افغانستان در ماه فبروری از رئیس جمهور کشور جناب اشرف غنی خواست که این قانون را باز نگری کند.

بعضی ها به این باور اند که فرستادن درخواست به دفتر ریاست جمهوری به جرئت کافی ضرورت دارد. رئیس موسسه مدیکا افغانستان به این نظر است که :

“برای ما این یک اقدام کام ضروی و بجا است. حکومت باید به حرف ما گوش بدهد اما حکومت میخواهد که ما باید د ئل کافی تخنیکی داشته باشیم. ما این چالش را پذیرفتیم. حقوق دانان مدیکا افغانستان با قضات و حقوق دانان کشور های هندوستان ، نیپال، سنگاپور در مورد تجارب شان صحبت کردند. ما هم چنان در جلسات تخنیکی

با وزارت عدلیه افغانستان اشتراک نمودیم. “ این درخواستی به اساس درس های آموخته شده از قضایای حقوقی مدیکا افغانستان و قوانین هندوستان، پاکستان ، نیپال،

سنگاپور ، فلپین ، مالیزیا و تاثیر آن با ی زنده گی مردم ترتیب گردیده است.

زنان و اطفال در افغانستان مانند بسیاری کشور های دیگر بصورت روزانه مورد آزار و اذیت جنسی قرار میگیرند که باعث ترس از محیط ،صدمه روحی ، ترک وظیفه و ترک مکتب و تحصیل شده و باعث دوری آنها از فعالیت های اجتماعی میشود. همکاران بخش روانی اجتماعی و حقوقی مدیکا بصورت روزانه با چنین قضایا سرو کار دارند.

به گفته یک روان شناس موسسه مدیکا افغانستان : “آزار جنسی ممکن است باعث ضربه روانی نزد دختران و اطفال شود که تاثیرات آن برای مدت طو نی با ی آنها باقی بماند. این باعث بروز اعراض مزمن نزد بازمانده گان آزار جنسی می شود که تمام زنده گی آنها را متاثر میسازد که این خود یک مساله صحت عامه میباشد”

حقوق دانان که این درخواستی را پیشنهاد می نمایند میگویند : “ما یک قانون مکمل و همه جانبه برای مبارزه علیه آزار جنسی زنان و اطفال میخواهیم. محراق توجه قانون تنها مجازات مجرم نباشد بلکه موادی وجود داشته باشد که قربانی را نیز محافظت نماید. ”

جای شک نیست که این قانون با قصد خوب ساخته شده است. اما در درخواستی بخاطر تعدیل قانون این را یاددهانی میکند که اگر قانون نا مکمل باشد به عوض کمک به زنان باعث متضرر شدن شان خواهد شد. دراین درخواستی آمده است که قانون نامکمل بوده دارای ابهامات و مشک ت میباشد که بصورت عموم قابل تطبیق نیست. این درخواستی هشدار میدهد که باوجود که در ترتیب این قانون قصد نیک وجود دارد ولی باعث عدم رسیده گی درست شکایات شده و باعث متضرر

شدن آن عده از کسانی شود که برای رسیده گی به قضیه شان به این قانون ضرورت دارند.

1

یکی از حامیان درخواستی ما چنین مینگارد” این قانون آزار واذیت را دقیق تصریح نکرده است ، متضررین را حمایت ننموده است و نکته مهم اینکه مجازات پیش بینی شده برای عاملین ناچیز اند”

تاکنون معلوم نیست که آیا قانون متذکره توسط رئیس جمهور کشور توشیح گردیده است یا خیر، شما میتوانید که ذریعه لینک ذیل:

https://www.change.org/p/amend-the-anti-sexual-harassment-law-of-afghanistan

درخواستی ما را مطالعه و حمایت خویش را از درخواستی ما اع ن بدارید.

اکثر باز مانده گان آزار جنسی بخاطر ترس، شرم و یا تهدید که می گیرند به کدام مرجعی شکایت نمی کنند. هدف

ازخواستی تهیه شده این است تا قانونی ساخته شود که بازمانده گان آزار جنسی توانائی آنرا پیدا کنند که قضیه شان مورد

تعقیب عدلی قرار گیرد و خود شان در مقابل مجرم محافظت شوند.

موسسه حمایت از زنان – میدیکا افغانستان یک مؤسسه زنان افغان است که برای تحقق حقوق زنان به اساس مساوات و

عدم تعبیض کار میکند. ما از طریق ارائه خدمات، بلند بردن آگاهی و ظرفیت سازی در ساحات روانی- اجتماعی، صحی

، تعلیم و تربیه و مساعدت حقوقی برای محو خشونت علیه زنان و دختران و بلند بردن حیثیت اجتماعی زنان داد خواهی

مینماییم. مدیکا افغانستان همکاری و تبادله تجارب بین زنان از کشور های مختلف ، کلچر های مختلف و طرف های

مختلف در گیری را تشویق میکند تا بتواند در پروسه صلح و آشتی ممد واقع شود.

میخواهیم از موسسه AWEC, WAW, CW4AW, WAWI, AWSDC و شبکه های AWN و ACBAR

بخاطر شریک ساختن نظرات شان و حمایت شان ازاینکه قانون باید تعدیل شود ابراز امتنان نمایم تا این قانون بتواند به

بازمانده گان آزار جنسی بصورت واقعی کمک نماید.

بخاطر معلومات بیشتر به این آدرس به تماس شوید :

lap.lawyers@medica-afghanistan.org

آدرس انترنتwww.medicaafghanistan.org

Depression rampant among Afghan women

 Gender violence, poverty and associated social problems fuels widespread mental health problems.

 By Sudabah Ehrari

The razor scars on 18-year-old Leila’s hands and neck bear witness to her past attempts at suicide. The Herat teenager told IWPR that she had become deeply depressed after her marriage to a 45-year-old man.

“I married a much older man because of my parents,” she said. “Later, I realised that this was not what I wanted. I was controlled and banned from going anywhere, and his interference in every little detail of my life became unbearable. I was so aggravated that I decided to end my life by taking poison, but survived. Later, I tried again to commit suicide with a razor, but again I was rescued.”

Leila subsequently sought treatment for her mental health problems.

“Now, I feel better following medication and a long series of consultations,” she said.

Mental health issues are rampant across Afghanistan, fed by the legacy of more than three decades of conflict. Psychologists note that women bear the brunt of the problem.

Experts in the northern province of Herat say that rates of depression are rising among women, fuelled by factors including gender violence, poverty and associated social problems.

Local mental health practitioners estimate that they have dealt with 20 per cent more referrals this year than last year.

Abd Al Rahman Hamraz, an official with the Herat department of public health, told IWPR, “Our statistics show that rates of depression have risen, with more referrals to mental health services.”

Wahid Nourzad, head of mental health services in Herat Regional Hospital, said that this reflected a growing awareness of the problem among women.

“I estimate that this same high rate of depression was also true in the past, except it wasn’t reflect by statistics due to a lack of awareness and fewer mental health clinics.”

Herat psychologist Mahdi Hossaini said that the condition could be categorised as minor, mild, and major depression.

He said that symptoms included “aches and pains, feelings of sadness, reduced energy, fatigue, helplessness and crying, guilt, anger, and [social] withdrawal”.

Treatment involved a combination of counseling and medication, he added.

Nourzad said that the treatment offered in state-run clinics was tailored to the severity of the individual’s symptoms.

“Those presenting with mild depression are treated with four to five consultation,, whereas patients with symptoms of major depression are hospitalised for a six-month period where they receive medication as well as counseling,” he said.

Mohammad Asef Kabir, head of Herat’s public health department, said that psychotherapy and medication were available at all the province’s health centres.

In addition, he continued, “There are ten clinics dedicated to patients suffering minor [mental health issues] and one, located in the Herat Regional Hospital, for severely ill individuals.”

Kabir added that these clinics also raised public awareness of mental disorders and how to prevent them.

Zahra, 38, who has a long history of depression, spoke to IWPR while an in-patient at Herat Regional Hospital.

“I’ve been suffering from this illness for 15 years, trying different medications in several places like Iran and Pakistan; however, all treatment ultimately failed although sometimes I feel better. Recently, losing my sister intensified my depression. I frequently struggle with headaches, I always quarrel about nothing with my family. This is my third day of hospitalisation.”

IMPACT OF GENDER VIOLENCE

Public health minister Firoozuddin Firooz announced on World Mental Health Day last year that 72 per cent of Afghan women had experienced depression.

He said that war, poverty and displacement and lack of resources were the main causes of mental health issues in Afghanistan. Psychological services were available at some 1,500 health centres around the country, he continued, with 300 dedicated mental health clinics. The government planned to create another 200 specialist centres, he said.

But others say that the impact of Afghanistan’s conservative traditions and associated gender inequality are central to the issue of women’s mental health. Little progress was possible with a fundamental change in attitudes.

Fatemah Bagheri, director of women’s affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), said, “Almost all women’s rights organisations as well as [the AIHRC] are concerned about the large number of women experiencing mental health problems.”

Madinah, who was diagnosed with depression more than a year ago, attributes her illness to the effects of poverty and her father’s drug addiction.

 “My only wish was to go to school, but I was beaten and deprived of education because of my father’s addiction,” she said. “I was in a constant state of distress, so I went to a psychologist and was told that I was suffering from depression.”

Mahboobeh Jamshidi, head of the department of women’s affairs in Herat, noted that the overwhelming majority of women who experienced domestic violence developed mental illness.

She said that her department had recently established a psychological consulting centre for women, but lamented the lack of a wider strategic plan to address mental health issues among women.

 “The initial treatment for a depressed woman is counseling, which is inefficient because medication, which is usually tried last, is more effective,” she said.

Hossniyah Nikzad, dirrector of the Afghan Women’s Network, agreed that discrimination both at home and in the wider society was the major cause of depression among women.

“The state must create a system under the auspices of the department of education, the department of information and culture and the department of haj [and religious affairs], to closely cooperate to reduce violence, since women’s depression is associated with increased violence,” she said. “If people are more are aware of the rules and regulations [governing gender discrimination], then violence and depression will be reduced.”

But with the proper treatment, some women say that they have been given new hope for the future. Leila, the 18 year-old with a history of suicide attempts, now works at a mental health centre which she said has helped her address her own trauma.

“I asked to work here since I understand what happened to these women and the pain that they went through,” she said. “I intend to help these women recover.”

This report was produced under IWPR’s Promoting Human Rights and Good Governance in Afghanistan initiative, funded by the European Union Delegation to Afghanistan.

https://iwpr.net/global-voices/depression-rampant-among-afghan-women
Distributed by:
The Network for Afghan Women List

* Information * Action * Capacity * Collaboration *

 

Maternal death rates in Afghanistan may be worse than previously thought

 Unpublished research from the UN Population Fund suggests the country’s maternal mortality figures may be higher than reported writes  Sune Engel Rasmussen in Kabul

For years, declining death rates among pregnant women have been hailed as one of the great gains of foreign aid in Afghanistan.

In reality, however, Afghan women dying in pregnancy or childbirth may be more than twice as high as numbers provided by donors would suggest.

Since 2010, published figures have shown maternal mortality rates at 327 for every 100,000 live births, a significant drop from 1,600 in 2002. Yet recent surveys give a different picture.

In one unpublished study, the Afghan government found an average level of maternal deaths between 800 and 1,200 for every 100,000 live births, according to aid workers in Kabul who have seen the research.

If accurate, this would mean that women in Afghanistan – despite more than 15 years of international aid aimed at improving maternal mortality figures – may be dying from maternal complications at rates similar to those found in Somalia and Chad, and only surpassed by South Sudan.

In another review, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) found as many as 1,800 maternal deaths a year in the remote Afghan province of Ghor. Nine out of 11 provinces had higher death rates than the number normally used by donors.

Both the UNFPA mortality numbers and the government’s own survey have yet to be released. A spokesman for the ministry of public health said the survey was not ready to be publicised yet, and declined to discuss findings.

The country’s emphasis on training midwives in recent years is slowly building numbers. Yet, despite this improved capacity, driving up numbers of health personnel is only half the solution, according to Bannet Ndyanabang, UNFPA’s Afghanistan representative: “Training is not the only thing. They have to be deployed in the areas where they are needed. It doesn’t matter that you have health centres if they’re not staffed with skilled personnel. [Midwives and nurses] have to be given incentives to work in rural areas.”

One reason for the discrepancy in the figures is a lack of reliable data. Collecting such information in Afghanistan is notoriously difficult. Worsening security prevents even officials from the ministry of public health, let alone foreigners, from travelling to rural areas.

In a recent audit of $1.5bn (£1.2bn) donated by the US to Afghan healthcare, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction – the US congressional watchdog – criticised the use of unreliable data to prop up claims of progress in Afghanistan.

According to Sigar, “missions are required to be transparent and communicate ‘any limitations in data quality so that achievements can be honestly assessed’. In all cases Sigar reviewed, USAid did not disclose data limitations.”

Sigar said similarly selective data use lay behind USAid claims that life expectancy in Afghanistan has risen by 22 years. More recent surveys by the World Health Organization show relatively modest increases of six and eight years for men and women respectively.

A USAid spokesperson said: “In Afghanistan, a country suffering from decades of conflict, reliable health and population data is scarce and difficult to obtain. USAid strives to use the best available data for programming decisions and invests to improve data quality for measuring progress. This commitment includes our continued support for independent nationwide surveys on the state of the health sector. These surveys, and the methodology they use, are publicly available.”

More reliable data is available, however.

While numbers used by international donors were based on samples from three of the 360 districts in existence at the time, the UNFPA survey was much more extensive, covering 70% of households in 11 of the country’s 34 provinces.

The UNFPA did not survey southern and eastern provinces, where rates are almost certainly high because conflict and poor infrastructure make healthcare inaccessible to millions of women.

In addition, a 2013 study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington reported 885 annual maternal deaths in Afghanistan. According to the researchers, that was an increase of 24% on a decade earlier.

In Afghanistan, reality often conflicts with official statistics. The UK government, for instance, claims that 85% of Afghans are now covered by basic health services.

Yet, in a 2014 Médecins Sans Frontières report, four out of five Afghans said they did not use their closest public clinic because they believed the quality of services and availability of staff was so poor. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 9 million Afghans are without access to basic health services.

Healthcare has also been a key priority for the British government in Afghanistan, though it’s not clear exactly how much money goes specifically to reducing mortality among pregnant women.

Since 2002, the UK has provided more than $1.7bn (£1.4bn) to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which allocates a significant portion to healthcare. Healthcare for mothers is a key priority, the UK embassy in Kabul said.

In a country where reliable data is so elusive, a stronger focus on monitoring progress, and further investment in it, is desperately needed, or the benefits of the large amount of aid going into healthcare will remain unclear.

See original article here: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/30/maternal-death-rates-in-afghanistan-may-be-worse-than-previously-thought

Afghan woman’s ears cut off by husband

A 23-year-old Afghan woman has described to the BBC how her husband tied her up and cut off both her ears in a domestic violence attack in the northern province of Balkh.

The woman – Zarina – is now in a stable but traumatised condition in hospital.

“I haven’t committed any sin,” she said. “I don’t know why my husband did this to me.”

The woman’s husband is on the run in Kashinda district following the attack, police have told local media.

Zarina told Pajhwok news that the unprovoked attack took place after her husband suddenly woke her up.

She was married at the age of 13, and told BBC that “relations with her husband were not good”.

Zarina complained that her husband had tried to prevent her from seeing her parents, she said in another interview, with Tolo News. She said she no longer wanted to remain married to him.“He is a very suspicious man and often accused me of talking to strange men when I went to visit my parents,” she said.

She has demanded his arrest and prosecution.

Her account is the latest in a series of high-profile domestic abuse incidents and cases of violence against women in Afghanistan.

  • In January 2016, a young woman, Reza Gul [pictured, below], had her nose cut off by her husband in the remote Ghormach district of north-western Faryab province
  • Some months later, a woman was critically ill after being nearly beaten to death by her husband
  • In November 2015, a young woman was stoned to death in Ghor province after she had been accused of adultery
  • Earlier that year, a young Kabul woman, Farkhunda, was beaten and burned to death by a mob over false allegations she had set fire to a Koran
  • In September 2014, a man cut off part of his wife’s nose with a kitchen knife, in central Daykundi Province, according to police. It is not clear whether he was ever caught
  • The case of Aisha featured on the front cover of Time magazine in 2010, after the 18-year-old was mutilated by her husband who cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away

The Afghan government has repeatedly tried to introduce laws to protect women from domestic abuse.

But President Hamid Karzai during his time in power was unable – or unwilling – to sign off legislation even though it had been approved by both houses of parliament.

In 2014, for example, he ordered changes to draft legislation that critics said would severely limit justice for victims.

Mr Karzai’s successor, Ashraf Ghani, has also yet to give his assent to legislation passed by Afghan parliament late last year. It was drafted to protect women and children from violence and harassment.read original BBC News report HERE.