Afghan Women's Rights




Women’s rights remained under threat in 2014. In January, a provision in Afghanistan’s draft criminal procedure code became the latest in a series of attempts to roll back the already fragile legal protections for women and girls. As passed by parliament, article 26 of the draft code included “relatives of the accused,” among a list of people who “cannot be questioned as witnesses” in criminal proceedings, thereby making successful prosecutions of those committing domestic violence extremely unlikely. In late February, President Hamid Karzai signed the law but amended article 26 by decree to state that relatives of the accused are permitted to testify voluntarily. It also allows compelled testimony from any “complainant or informant regarding the crime” and slightly narrows the definition of “relatives.” However, the amended article still exempts many family members from being called as witnesses.

In June, the government rejected recommendations from UN member countries to abolish prosecution of women for so-called moral crimes. Other setbacks for women’s rights in 2014 included a continuing series of attacks on, threats toward, and assassinations of, high-profile women, including police women and activists, to which the government failed to respond with meaningful measures to protect women at risk.

The implementation by law enforcement officials of Afghanistan’s landmark 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women remained poor, with many cases of violence against women ignored or resolved through “mediation” that denied victims their day in court.

More positively, women’s rights activists through hard work and constant advocacy were able to inject some discussion of women’s rights into the election process. This included a successful effort by the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) to obtain signatures from Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, after both survived the first election round, to commit to following 30 recommendations that support women’s rights. AWN and its member organizations planned to follow up with the new president to ensure his compliance.


World Report 2015: Afghanistan