Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Monday, September 1st, 2014

Silence over Brutal Murder of Anisa

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Silence over Brutal Murder of Anisa

On Sunday December 02, a tenth grader from Mahmoud Raqi Girls High School in Kapisa Province of Afghanistan named Anisa was shot seven times by a group of men while she was walking home from school. Anisa was also a volunteer for a polio vaccination campaign run by the Ministry of Public Health.

After Anisa's murder several contradictory accounts of it was given by the government. While according to Tolo TV, the head of the Women's Affairs Department in Kapisa said that Anisa was targeted and murdered, the Governor of Kapisa denied this and said she was a 35 year-old-woman caught in a cross fire. Reports by the Guardian brought to light that Anisa was in fact a student and targeted.

Recently, members of Anisa's family have criticized the government for covering up her case and saying that she wasn't a student and a volunteer for the polio campaign. They told 1 TV that Ansia's targeted murder has been covered and misused for political reasons by the government. Anisa's brother says that she volunteered for polio campaign and going into the 11th grade.

She also financially supported her three siblings. Social media activism led to President Karzai ordering an investigation on the case and promised to present details in three days at a press conference. However, the press conference was cancelled at the last minute.

Regardless of how old she was, we know that Anisa was killed for going to school. She was killed for vaccinating children. And she was killed for working outside her home.

Several civil society organizations have spoken out to demand justice for Anisa and have criticized the governmental authorities for their silence. On Wednesday December 05, at a press conference organized by Afghan Women's Network, activists demanded that more attention should be paid to Anisa's case so that justice is served. However, over and over again the Government has proven that girls' education and women's rights are not a priority unless they are deemed convenient bargaining chips for political agreements.

From the endorsement of misogynistic resolutions by the religious clerical establishment of the Government that demands women shouldn't travel alone, to the imprisonment of 700 young girls for running away from abusive families or getting raped, women's rights and security has been largely neglected. The government has remained silent more often than not when girls' schools have been burned and female students and teachers have been poisoned or attacked by acid.

Anisa's murder is one example of the many brutalities against women and girls in Afghanistan. Her murder is not just the women's rights activists' business or the governments' business — but the entire nation's business. It is time people started speaking out against crimes towards women and standing up for the daughters of this country, whose security and education, can lead to forming a more prosperous land.

Afghan civil society organizations need to focus on creating grassroots support for the cause of justice for Anisa that will lead to public pressure on the government as well as pressure by the usual suspects of women's organizations. Shortly after, Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan, Safe World for Women, Women for Afghan Women, Hadia, and Road to Equality and Development publicized another campaign for Anisa and an event was organized to ask everyone to take two minutes of silence to remember her. In addition to that, Afghan poets and intellectuals have already begun writing poems to remember her.

Recent activism on Facebook and Twitter led to the government making a statement that they will investigate the case. However, hundreds of cases are announced to be investigated and then forgotten in days or weeks and Anisa's case might suffer the same fate.

In Pakistan, local women from around the country spoke out against the attack on Malala and there was a national and international mobilization of youth and women for advocacy. The same kind of advocacy needs to happen in Afghanistan if Afghan civil society is looking for long-term methods to pressure the political powers into bringing to justice the criminals who killed Anisa and continue to persecute other Afghan women.

Noorjahan Akbar is an Afghan women’s rights activist. She can be reached at akbarnoorjahan@gmail.com. This piece was first published at the UN Dispatch blog.

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