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Closing Secondary Schools to Girls Causing Lasting Harm

“I want to go to school and become an independent woman who chooses and decides for her life,” 16-year-old Nasiba told me. “If I am educated, men wouldn’t dare to interfere but if I am not, they will decide my whole life for me.” She lives in Kabul…
Women demonstrate for their rights during a gathering for National Teachers Day in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 5, 2021.
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For Survivors of Abuse, Shelters Offered Lifeline

“My parents warned me they will kill me if I ever leave this shelter,” Najla, a woman of about 30, told me. “The worst thing is that I don’t have anyone to support me.” She has been in a shelter in Afghanistan’s western city of Herat for several years…
Afghan women sew in their bedroom at a women's shelter in Kabul, March 20, 2017. A non-descript building tucked away in a residential neighborhood is one of the few hidden sanctuaries where battered women can seek support. 
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Twenty Rights Groups Call for Justice and Accountability

Human Rights Watch today joined Afghan and international human rights organizations calling for a United Nations-mandated fact-finding mission to investigate escalating attacks on civilians in Afghanistan to promote justice and accountability.…
The mother of a schoolgirl who was among those killed in the brutal May 8, 2021 bombing of the Sayed ul-Shuhada girls' school stands inside a classroom with bouquets of flowers on empty desks as a tribute to the dead, in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 16, 2021. 
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New Global Numbers Show Backsliding Even Before Covid-19 Pandemic

Ahead of the World Day Against Child Labor this weekend, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have just released shocking new figures. They estimate that 160 million children were engaged in child…
A boy sits atop a wheel barrow
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Donors Should Sustain Vital Services While Decrying Violations

Donor countries to Afghanistan say they want to keep protecting the human rights of women and girls, even as international troops prepare to depart the country. But a bill introduced in the United States Senate last week raises tricky issues about how…
Women walking Nadir Khan Overlooking Kabul womens rights us withdrawl
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Attackers Target Girls Leaving Kabul High School

Scenes from Sayed ul-Shuhada High School in Kabul, Afghanistan, where as many as 85 people including many schoolgirls were killed in an attack this weekend, should break anyone’s heart. They certainly broke mine. In 2017 a filmmaker and I spent a week…
Books, notebooks, and other school supplies are left behind after May 8's deadly bombings near a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 9, 2021.
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Government Proposal for Mosque-Based Primary Schools Raises Concerns

An Afghan government proposal that children study in mosques for the first three years of primary school raises concerns about its commitment to the right to education. “We are working to transfer the first, second, and third grades of the school…
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Pandemic Creates New Barriers for Women and Girls Already Facing Deep Inequality

On May 28, 2020, Human Rights Watch launched a survey to learn more about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on students, parents and caregivers. As of June 6, people in 54 countries had completed the survey; it’s still open here—please fill it…
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Investigate Alleged Rapes by Teachers, Police

When allegations of widespread sexual abuse of children surface, it’s supposed to be the perpetrators who get investigated and taken into custody. But not in Afghanistan. Mohammad Musa Mahmudi and Ehsanullah Hamidi are two…
Afghan police officers search a vehicle at a checkpoint on the Ghazni highway, in Maidan Shar, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018.
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Attacks in Civilian Areas Kill and Injure Hundreds

On July 1, a Taliban truck bomb apparently aimed at a Ministry of Defense facility in Kabul blew out the windows of a nearby school, injuring many civilians, including dozens of children. The attack is a grim reminder of the war in…
A security forces soldier arrives at the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan
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Suicide Bombing Latest Attack Targeting Shia Community

Madina, 17, headed off to class last Wednesday as she had always done, pursuing her hope to go to university and earn a business degree so she could start her own company. But for Madina and 39 other students – all under 20 years old –…
Men carry the coffin of a relative who died in the suicide bombing at Mawoud Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2018.
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Policy Bans Government Doctors from Conducting Abusive Tests

A new policy in Afghanistan promises to bar government health workers from engaging in the abusive practice of forcing women and girls to undergo invasive and medically meaningless vaginal and anal exams to determine whether they are “…
A demonstrator attends a rally outside the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, Belgium, October 5, 2016.
News

Groundbreaking 2009 Law Hasn’t Brought Justice for Victims

It seemed like a breakthrough. In 2009, when then-President Hamid Karzai signed Afghanistan’s Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW Law), women’s rights activists celebrated a hard-won victory. They looked to a future…
Members of civil society organizations chant slogans during a protest to condemn the killing of 27-year-old woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten with sticks and set on fire by a crowd of men in central Kabul in broad daylight on Thursday, in Kabul March 24, 2
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Governments Need to Better Protect Girl Students from Attack

“There were two bombs in the school,” said 16-year-old Malalai, describing an attack in January 2016 against her girls’ school in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. She said the Taliban had left a letter in the schoolyard: “They said…
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Still No Concrete Plan Despite Early Promises

Progress towards ending child marriage in Nepal appears to have ground to a halt, despite early hopes. Nepal, with the third highest rate of child marriage in Asia – 37 percent of girls married before 18, and 10 percent married by 15 – had been…
17-year-old Anjana M., married at 14, sits outside her home with her two-year-old daughter Ishita. Anjana’s aunt and uncle pressured her to marry her husband because of rumors about her relationship with him. Anjana’s father sent her to Pokhara when she w
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Afghan Military’s Sexual Exploitation of Boys Persists

A United States government oversight agency has slammed Afghan government officials for active complicity in the “in the sexual exploitation and recruitment of children by Afghan security forces.” In its most recent quarterly…
An Afghan military honor guard waits to greet U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis upon his arrival to meet Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan April 24, 2017.
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UN Expert Body Calls for Regional Processing Centers to Close

This week, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reviewed Australia’s asylum policy. Once again, Australia’s officials were both disingenuous and unconvincing in their appearance before the committee, which monitors state…
A protester from the Refugee Action Coalition holds a placard during a demonstration outside the offices of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Sydney, Australia, April 29, 2016.
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Urgent Action Needed to Help Millions of Children Forced into Work Each Year

Rahimullah, a 15-year-old Afghan boy, told Human Rights Watch last year that he has worked as a brick maker for five years, working from 4:00 a.m. until nightfall. “My smaller siblings also work,” he said. “When they turn five,…
Hazrat Hussain, 10, loads bricks onto a truck. Hazrat doesn’t go to school and works alongside his two teenage brothers at a brick kiln outside Kabul.
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One-Third of Casualties from IEDs, Unexploded Ordnance, and Airstrikes are Under 18

If you had any doubt the war in Afghanistan is getting worse for civilians, statistics out today show that in the first quarter of 2017, children were increasingly bearing the brunt of the bloody conflict. While there was a…
Residents walk past damaged shops after a suicide car bomb attack on a government security building in Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016.
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Up to One-Third of Afghan Girls Married Before Age 18

The Afghan government launched a National Action Plan this week to end child marriage, an important initiative in a country where about a third of girls marry before age 18. Child marriage is deeply harmful, leaving girls at increased risk of leaving…
An Afghan girl (R) jumps rope on a hilltop in Kabul, Afghanistan May 18, 2015.