By Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.
The recent move by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women Affairs (MoWA) to take control of women’s shelters is deeply worrying. I have spoken to NGO workers who run these shelters, and they have been outraged by the new legislation.
Over the past few years I have personally been able to see the work of five of these shelters out of a total of 14 set up around the country by NGOs after the Taleban’s fall. The shelters house hundreds of Afghan women and girls whose lives are at risk due to forced marriage, underaged marriage, and other forms of violence.
Amnesty International urges the Afghan government to reconsider this terrible piece of legislation and, instead, recommit itself to protecting the women of Afghanistan and those courageous human rights defenders, many of them women, who are trying to counteract years of discrimination and sexual violence against the women of Afghanistan.
As an Afghan woman I was extremely proud of the work of my colleagues in establishing these shelters, despite lack of resources, cultural prejudices, and intimidation. Intimidation, from the family members of the women seeking shelter, from the government, from political figures supposedly allied with the government, and from the Taleban and other anti-government groups.