AFGHANISTAN: Human rights concerns grow for women and girls advocates
(WNN) Kabul, AFGHANISTAN: As the governing lower Parliament of Afghanistan approves an extended presence of the United States government in the region on Saturday, advocates for human rights and women’s rights sit in the wings.
Recent attacks by suspected insurgents on schools for girls in the Takhar province have brought 122 girl students and 3 teachers to the hospital from exposures to dangerous levels of poisoned air inside their school building. This has come following other events of intimidation and danger for girls trying to receive education throughout the Afghan region.
“As champions of women’s rights who are dedicated to protecting women’s human rights, we are deeply concerned that the significant gains made by women and girls in Afghanistan may be threatened as U.S. and allied troops leave the country,” said Amnesty International May 18, 2012 in an open letter to President Barrack Obama and Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. “We urge you to adopt a comprehensive action plan to guarantee that the clock is not turned back on a decade of strides in education, health, security and employment for women and girls,” continued the letter.
Reversals for women and girls in the region has come at a crisis pace as Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education has recently conveyed that 550 schools in 11 provinces have been closed down recently where the Taliban currently has its strongest foothold in Afghan communities.
The process appears to have left women and girls last in line for any progress the country could be taking.
“Evidence shows that peace processes are considered more credible and more likely to succeed when they include women,” Amnesty added. “The latest statement by the Ulema Council of Afghanistan that women should “respect the right of men to polygamy” and “not travel without a close male relative,” must be viewed as a threat to women’s human rights. The Council has proclaimed that men are superior to women.”
Although there is no current plan for the U.S. government to continue to keep military bases open once the approved 2014 operational shift occurs with the removal of over 87 thousand troops, the U.S. has pledged that a decade of financial support will be maintained in the region.
In the meantime advocates inside the region worry that women and girls will be hurt in the process.
“When it comes to civil rights in Afghanistan, Karzai should respect the constitution,” Afghanistan parliamentarian Ms. Shukria Barikzai said recently. Although women have made progress in the region the Afghan equal rights for men and women as outlined in the Afghan constitution has not been a priority. Ms. Buarikzai has worked to provide voice for women’s rights inside the Parliament in Kabul.
In March 2012 Karzai backed and approved a reversal for women as restrictive language for women was presented by clerics in the Ulema Council outlining “Men are fundamental and women are secondary.”
The costs for women are coming as an increased “green light for Talibanization” is occurring inside the region, said Parliamentarian Ms. Fawzia Koofi.
“It sends a really frightening message that women can expect to get sold out in this process,” said Afghanistan research expert Heather Barr for Human Rights Watch last March.
“In this climate, we are alarmed that inadequate attention is being paid to women’s rights and participation in peace talks with the Taliban. Women must be empowered in the educational, economic and political life of Afghanistan or the country will fail to achieve a stable and prosperous future after a decade of effort to secure and rebuild the country,” continued the recent Amnesty International letter.
To see the complete recent letter sent by Amnesty International link HERE
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