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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. 
Report
Summary The international reconstruction effort in Afghanistan after 2001 created an opportunity to advance human rights, and women’s and girls’ rights in particular. Although its achievements have fallen short of what was envisioned, significant…
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International Women’s Day Should Prompt Real Reforms

As 2020 drew to a close, protesters across South Asia took to the streets, calling on their governments to take widespread sexual violence against women and children seriously, and to implement real reforms. But rather than listening to experts and…
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Death Penalty Push Ignores Real Solutions to Regional Failings

(New York) – South Asian governments should disregard populist death penalty rhetoric and listen to their own experts to prevent and end sexual violence against women, Human Rights Watch said in a video released today. Experts on sexual violence from…
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News

Halt Executions

(Beirut) – Bahrain’s authorities should overturn the death sentences following unfair trials against two men who say they were tortured, Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said today. The Court of…
Mohamed Ramadan (left) and Hussein Ali Moosa (right).
News

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

Reports of Ill-Treatment Show Need for Transparency, Monitoring

(Paris) – Uzbek authorities should immediately and unconditionally release an Afghan citizen whose 13-year imprisonment and alleged torture in custody have only recently become known, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, International…
A guard in a solitary confinement block at an unidentified prison in Uzbekistan. Prisoners in solitary confinement in Uzbekistan’s prisons experience cramped cells without bedding—some in total darkness, others with permanent bright lights
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
News

Abusive ‘Virginity Exams’ Re-Traumatize Victims

“I will never report such a case again,” said Farida, a midwife in rural Afghanistan, after a judge humiliated her in a public courtroom for her efforts to document a case of sexual assault involving two child victims. Farida…
An Afghan woman in Chaghchran capital of Ghor province June 2, 2014.
News

Rape-marriage exoneration laws are relics of the colonial past. It's time to leave them there.

In recent weeks, the Tunisian, Jordanian, and Lebanese parliaments have repealed provisions in their penal codes that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims. Provisions like these, largely colonial-era relics, remain on the books…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
News
The US Defense Department reportedly meted out only administrative punishments to 11 military personnel involved in the October 3, 2015 airstrikes on a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders, MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that killed 42…
MSF Hospital Ruins
News
On Saturday, something rare occurred in Afghanistan: a Kabul court convicted a man of raping a 10-year-old girl. Rapes are rarely reported and even less frequently tried in Afghan courts. But the victim, Hamida (her real name withheld to protect her…
News

President Ghani Should Back Sweeping Reforms Now

(New York) – Afghanistan’s new government should take urgent steps to combat sexual harassment of women in education, employment, and public life, Human Rights Watch said today. There are no laws in Afghanistan that specifically prohibit sexual harassment…
News
On September 15, the Kabul Appeals Court turned a blind eye to serious flaws in the handling of the notorious Paghman gang rape case and upheld death sentences for five of the defendants. Two others were sentenced to 20 years in prison. The crime was…
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Review of Afghanistan by the Committee scheduled for 10 July 2013

We write in advance of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s upcoming initial and second periodic review of Afghanistan to highlight areas of concern. We hope our submission will inform your consideration of Afghanistan’s…
News

Anticipated Protests Risk Further Violations

(Beirut) – International racing bodies responsible for scheduling the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix from April 19 to 21, 2013, have taken no steps to address human rights abuses that appear to be directly linked to the event. Bahraini security forces…
News
As told by Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch's Afghanistan researcher It was winter when I interviewed Tahmina at a Kabul prison for girls. Six to eight girls lived in each room, and although I preferred to interview each of them privately, the girls all…
News
“If I looked nice, he hit me,” Ana L., a mother of five in Colombia, told me. Ana (not her real name) detailed years of abuse by her partner. He beat her when she was pregnant, and hit her head so hard that she suffered permanent vision damage. She sought…
News

Systematic and New Violations and Impunity

(Geneva) – United Nations member states should scrutinize Bahrain’s deplorable human rights record during the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council on May 21, 2012, Human Rights Watch said today. The international…