Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Women: Victims of Electoral Violence

Violence is one of the major obstacles to growth and development. It is self-evident, that violence against women particularly hinders progress in achieving development in the society. Based on the 1995 Bejing Declaration and Platform for Action, violence against women is any acts or gender based violence as a result of physical, sexual or psychological harm of suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty-whether occurring in public of private life.
Elections are accepted as the backbone of democracy and participation in elections is both the fundamental human right of citizens and democratic responsibility of the citizens to take part in elections to uphold the democratic values and norms in their society. Indeed, such elections should be free and fair, the rule or law should enable the elected representatives to practice their decision-making power and the constitution should curb it by emphasizing on the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals and should develop mechanisms to place checks on the leaders and ensure the will of majority is exercised against the rights of minorities. Though there is a specific legal framework that directs the electoral process, there is usually a rivalry between those who want to gain power and those who may lose power which more often than not, results to violence during the electoral process, regardless of the time and place in which electoral process occurs there.
Considering the importance of the elections and the power it gives to the people, electoral violence is the biggest blow to democracy: It is the biggest enemy of democracy, that can delegitimize the process and gets democracy fail. Democracy in Afghanistan, specifically the conduct of elections, has nearly always been characterized by doubt, uncertainty, gossips, and fears of the safety of people’s lives and property. In Afghanistan, conflict ridden situations are the historic features of elections. This is due to the prolong rule of authoritarian regimes and ethnic oriented features of elections in Afghanistan. To say it in another word, we usually are not willing to improve and institutionalize the core democratic values in our country but want to maintain our ethnic preferences and privileges by electoral fraud that  follows electoral violence in the given society. Therefore, issues surrounding the election process lead to violence and violations of rights of individuals. As a result, elections instead of serving as a means and process of exercising legitimate political rights, turn out to be a serious political liability: that cause serious political turmoil and conflicts threatening the social cohesion of the Afghan society.
Women due to traditional society norms and values are more vulnerable than men to violence. As the democratic history of Afghanistan show, there has been recurrent trend of gender based violence before, during and after elections in Afghanistan. As Afghanistan approaches to the Wolsi Jirga and District Councils general elections, most Afghans, and especially women political activists and other participants are concerned about their security and doubt about the police force to provide them enough protection against terrorist attacks. It is worthy to mention that, it applies to the men political activists and participants, but the situation is far graver for women than men. As women form nearly half of the population of the country, their active participation both can highly improve the legitimacy of the elected officials and uphold the democratic of values in Afghanistan.
Electoral violence has been identified as one of the major factors of limiting political participation of women in Afghanistan. It has deprived women of their political human right and as a result their voices have not been heard enough through the Afghan Parliament and other elected institutions. Therefore, the government should take all the necessary measures to ensure a free and fair elections. It also should take specific measures to protect women against different forms of electoral violence, and especial measures should be put in place to ensure protection of women against violence and security threats in the country. Further, as the electoral processes in Afghanistan has nearly always been accused of widespread fraud, full participation of women can revive the legitimacy of the electoral process and would improve the core democratic values in the country.