The Need for Supporting the Pro-women Law
Echoing concerns of Afghan civil organizations, Jan Kubis, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and UNAMA head called on the government and parliament of Afghanistan to step up efforts for fully implementing the law on Elimination of Violence Against Women. In response to the UN representative’s call, many of the Mishrano Jirga lawmakers scorned his statements regarding the need for supporting protection for the Afghan women. Jan Kubis on Monday said progress in implementing the EVAW law contributed to protecting women from violence in their daily lives. He said the law was critical, not just for women and girls, but for all of Afghan society. Kubis also stressed the international community also had firm expectations of the Afghan government in increasing respect for women’s rights.
The move against the Elimination of Violence Against Women has raised concerns among the civil organizations and the pro-women groups who have been fighting for improving the rights and the status of the women in Afghanistan. As the UN is joining the campaign for supporting the law, the conservatives who have influence in the parliament are stepping up pressures on supporters of the law. All supporters of the women’s rights know well that the pro-women law is facing a decisive in the parliament and rejection of the law would be a heavy blow to all the achievements of the past decade.
Hopefully, despite the bitter arguments of the conservatives against the law, the human rights groups are not alone. Afghanistan is funded by the international donors and the country is obliged to support the basic rights of its citizens and particularly the women to receive funds from the international community. The government of Afghanistan is also willing to support the law but is hesitant about putting pressure on the lawmakers and the conservative circles to give up insistence for impairing the anti-violence law that is devised to support the vulnerable women against male-inflicted violence in the society.
In the past, the conservatives tried many times to restrict the role and presence of women in the society particularly in the media. In a controversial move, the Council of Ulema even issued a ‘code of conduct’ for the women, considering them as inferior to the men and obliging them to be accompanied by men when going outside of the home. Even more concerning issue is that Hamid Karzai, who passed the Elimination of Violence Against Women law in 2009, does not seem to be firm in protecting rights of women against retrogressive moves by the mullahs and conservative elements in the Afghan society.
As the government of Afghanistan is trying to negotiate with the Taliban, women and human rights activists are concerned that the rights of women might be compromised in the process in order to appease the Taliban and persuade them to renounce violence. The hot debate in the parliamentary session on Saturday proved that the hard-gained progresses of the past could be reversible after the NATO withdrawal completes by the end of 2014, unless the government of Afghanistan press the house for remaining committed to preserving the rights of women. Clearly, putting the law for debate in the conservatives-dominated parliament was a mistake. But now, all civil organizations, the media and the international community should spare no efforts to put pressures on the Afghan parliament as well as the government of Afghanistan to not impair the crucial law.