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Protect the Vulnerable Segments of Society

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After more than twelve years of internationally-backed efforts for improving human rights, the situation of vulnerable parts of the society including women, children, religious minorities and other underprivileged parts of the society remain distressing. As the international coalition is withdrawing from Afghanistan, there are increasing reports of the violation of human rights and deteriorating situation of women. According to Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the violence against women has seen a sharp rise of 25 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2012. Another report says that a young couple who eloped from home in Baghlan province had been executed without a legal trial and based on decision of the tribal council.

This is while there are renewed efforts to revive the abolished laws for the harsh Taliban-style punishment of stoning to death. The Human Rights Watch, a New York based rights advocacy group, has called on the Afghan government to act and foil the efforts for revival of the horrifying method of punishment. According to HRW, a commission headed by the Afghan Ministry of Justice, which is considering a law, has proposed an article for inclusion of the Sharia style punishment of stoning to death for “honor crimes”. The call by the HRW echoes concerns that the human rights and the situation of Afghan women may further deteriorate ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops. As highlighted by the HRW, the Afghan government must redouble its efforts for reversing the current worsening of women and human rights.

If the Afghan government fails to act on the issue, human rights may quickly get worse. Afghanistan is now particularly prone to vulnerability regarding the situation of women and human rights. This is because; the NATO mission is ending and foreign forces withdrawing from the country, while concurrently a political transition process is going on with the election set for April to elect a new president for Afghanistan. Given the two processes of security and political transition, there is a broad sense of disengagement of the international community after the NATO ends its mission by end of next year. This general fear is intensified by the ongoing insurgency with the high rate of casualties among security forces and civilians.

Whether the widespread skepticisms and concerns about the future is justified or not, it is true that the situation for human rights is worsening in the country and violence against women and other vulnerable segments of the society is on the rise. Moreover, what further make the prospect of the future dim are the efforts with direct involvement of the government offices to revive Taliban-style punishments. If there is no sufficient efforts from the Afghan government to preserve the achievements of the last decade and if the negligence of the non-governmental organization for monitoring the government’s commitment continues, there would be no doubt that we would witness a reverse in human rights improvement. Therefore, the government of Afghanistan should to take concrete measures to preserve the hard-gained achievements of the past decade.

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