5 Jan 2014

Crimes against Afghan women on the rise

6:15 am on 5 January 2014

Crimes against women in Afghanistan hit record levels and became increasingly brutal in 2013.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission chair Sima Samar.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission chair Sima Samar. Photo: AFP (file)

Restoring women's rights after the Taliban was ousted in 2001 was cited as one of the main objectives of the war.

Under Taliban rule, women were required to wear full-length burqa and barred from leaving their homes without being escorted by a male relative. Schools for girls were closed.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission chair Sima Samar said in a telephone interview on Saturday that the brutality of attacks on women greatly intensified last year.

"The brutality of the cases is really bad. Cutting the nose, lips and ears. Committing public rape," she said. "Mass rape ... It's against dignity, against humanity."

She attributed the increase in crime to a culture of impunity and the imminent departure of international troops and aid workers, leaving women more exposed to attack.

In addition, more cases were reported as women became aware of their rights.

Ms Samar said a deteriorating economy and growing insecurity had also contributed to the rise in reported incidents.

The AIHRC said the latest figures for 2013 showed a 25% increase in cases for March through September.

Another advocate of women's rights in Herat said improving the situation would be difficult as laws aimed at protecting women were notoriously hard to implement.

"Killing women in Afghanistan is an easy thing. There's no punishment," said Suraya Pakzad, who runs women's shelters in several provinces.

She cited recent cases in which women had been publicly stoned as Afghan troops looked on.

"Laws are improved, but implementation of those laws are in the hands of warlords ... I think we are going backwards."