Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

“Elimination of Violence against Women”

Though Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law in Afghanistan was passed by a presidential decree in 2009, it has not been implemented in its true spirit; neither, there has been enough awareness and understanding of the law. To improve this situation, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan on Monday launched a national strategy and action plan with the motive of ensuring that the EVAW law is implemented effectively so that women have legal protection against different sorts of discriminations that take place against them within the society.
This effort by the Ministry is, in fact, a 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence so as to ensure that more women have access to protection services, shelter and justice and they should also make contribution in putting an end to impunity of perpetrators. It also highlights government's role in the protection of women and prosecution of perpetrators, requiring the police to register cases of violence against women and courts and prosecutors to prosecute them as per law.
EVAW law, basically, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and harmful practices including child marriage, forcing or prohibiting marriage, forced self-immolation, rape and beating. Proper implementation of the law will definitely support much in elimination of violence against women. Nevertheless, there are many conservative people who do see the law with optimism and unbiased approach. Therefore, it is really vital that proper interpretation of the law and its implications should be elaborated for them. There are hopes that the ongoing activism may play some role in this regard.
The important point is to realize the fact that Afghanistan is one of the countries where violence against women is very frequent. It can be easily observed that the incidents violating women rights in the country have not been stopped though there have been many claims of developments. In fact the changes are prevalent only on the exterior while from within the Afghan society still lacks the development it needs in order to reach to a respectable position. The support and assistance of the international community has only been able to provide clean and beautiful attire not a praiseworthy soul to Afghan society. The Afghan social structure has been vehemently dominated by religious extremism and tribal nepotism.
Most of the self-designed religious doctrines and tribal norms are against the women and discriminate their basic rights. Unfortunately, these norms and doctrines have even gone to the extent of violence and have tortured women physically – mostly in the public. They, in the name of dignity of women, have in fact degraded them. The concept of so-called tribal honor and dignity has not been able to provide safety and respect to Afghan women.
There have been many incidents in Afghanistan that have been shocking in their nature and they have shown the worst form of violence against them. Even then, they have not proved to be sufficient enough to convince the authorities that the situation is really grave and they need to take tangible steps to tackle the situation.
Violence against women can only be reduced in Afghanistan when the policies and perceptions regarding women start changing. The authorities can play a key role in this regard. Nonetheless, it is unfortunate to note that Afghan authorities and many important personalities themselves have favored the recommendations and suggestions to limit the participation of women in social and political lives. As most of these authorities are themselves nourished in an extremist patriarchal society and do not have much consideration regarding the role and empowerment of women and consider it against their tribal values that they come out of their houses. It is difficult for them to follow a movement to save women from violence and make them achieve their due place in Afghan society. The status and pursuit of EVAW law is one of the most evident examples. Most of the authorities have shown reluctance to pursue it in its true spirit. The reason is that they do not agree with the law as a whole and have certain objections. Most of them have their self-centered motives. Unfortunately, they use the name of Islam but it should be clarified that Islam does not tolerate violence against women and urge for social and political participation of women.

The ongoing movement for EVAW law can be used to discuss and consider the overall issue of violence against women in Afghanistan seriously along with raising awareness and sensitization regarding EVAW law. The movement can involve the political and religious leaders, especially the ones who have some interest in this regard. They can also involve the authorities that have important positions in the policy-making arena and make them realize their responsibilities. Ultimately, they, along with the people as a whole should continue their efforts in this regard and show that they have respect for women and their human rights.