Fears about possible repercussions and a lack of awareness about their rights contributes to the relatively low reporting of violence against women in Kandahar province, according to legal experts and women’s rights activists at a UNAMA-supported workshop.
The workshop in Afghanistan’s south was jointly organized by the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association and UNAMA’s field office in the southern city to raise awareness of women’s rights. Participants included court-related officials and judges, representatives of provincial departments, members of civil society and women’s rights activists.
Participants pointed out that while the number of cases registered with legal institutions in Kandahar is less than in other provinces, anecdotal evidence suggests cases of violence against women are widespread in Kandahar province.
Other key topics discussed included the need for greater protection of women from violence, legal action against perpetrators of violence and civil remedies available to women victims of domestic violence.
Participants identified lack of awareness among women about their rights, enshrined in the country’s laws, as another key impediment to relatively low levels of registration of cases of violence against women.
The workshop follows the release in April of the UN report Justice through the eyes of Afghan women which called for access to justice for women victims of violence in Afghanistan to be strengthened.
Afghanistan’s law on Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW)—enacted in August 2009 through a Presidential decree – criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women, including child and forced marriages, rape and beating, and specifies punishment for perpetrators.