This is what protecting human rights looks like: responding to resounding national and international outcry, including the voices of Afghan women and Amnesty activists around the world, early this week Afghan President Karzai blocked a new discriminatory law that would have denied justice to women and girls subjected to domestic violence, rape, and forced or child marriage.
The revision to Afghanistan’s Criminal Procedure Code passed by the Afghan Parliament last month would have proven catastrophic for the ability of Afghan women and girls to seek justice when family members commit acts of violence against them by prohibiting the relatives of an accused individual from acting as witnesses during a criminal prosecution.
This draft code would have taken Afghanistan back decades in terms of discrimination of women and girls in the country.
Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan researcher said, “this draft code would have taken Afghanistan back decades in terms of discrimination of women and girls in the country. President Karzai has taken a crucial step by refusing to sign the amended code.”
Yet all eyes will remain on Afghanistan to gauge whether the forthcoming changes from the Ministry of Justice will not only uphold women’s rights but reflect the recommendations of Afghan women activists and civil society leaders.
While the human rights community celebrates halting a clear threat to progress made by Afghan women for their rights, we all know much remains to be done: support must continue for the women in Afghanistan who are working so hard to advance their human rights in the midst of unrelenting efforts to erode what they’ve gained.