A law meant to protect Afghan women from a host of abusive practices, including rape, forced marriage and the trading of women to settle disputes, is being undermined by spotty enforcement, the UN said in a report released Wednesday.
Afghanistan’s Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was passed in August 2009, raising hopes among women’s rights activists that Afghan women would get to fight back against abuses that had been ignored under Taliban rule.
The law criminalised many abuses for the first time, including domestic violence, child marriage, driving a woman to resort to suicide and the selling and buying of women.
Yet the report found only a small percentage of reported crimes against women are pursued by the Afghan government.
Only 26% of complaints investigated, only 7% prosecuted – 155 cases out of 2,299 complaints.
Sometimes victims were pressured to withdraw their complaints or to settle for mediation by traditional councils, the report said. Sometimes prosecutors didn’t proceed with mandatory investigations for violent acts like rape or prostitution. Other times, police simply ignored complaints.
In one such instance in Kandahar in March, a woman reported that after her daughter got married, in-laws used the young woman as an unpaid servant and forced her into having sex with visiting men. She committed suicide by setting herself on fire in her room and the mother brought the case to the police.