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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…
News

Dropping Donor Support Threatens Essential Services

(New York) – Falling donor support for essential services in Afghanistan is reducing women’s access to essential health care, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. More cuts are likely in coming months following the announcement by…
A new mother holds her hour-old baby in the maternity ward at Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 2020. She had travelled from neighboring Laghman province to give birth at the hospital. On May 12, 2020, unidentified gunmen attacked the hospital’s maternity ward, killing 24 people, including 16 mothers, 2 children, and a midwife. Three new mothers were killed in the delivery room. Another 20 people, including babies, were injured in the four-hour attack. Ongoing security concerns have lef
News

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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News

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

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

African Governments Should Ensure Right to Education

  (Nairobi) - Tens of thousands of pregnant girls and adolescent mothers are banned or discouraged from attending school across Africa, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today, ahead of the Day of the African Child…
Students enrolled in the final year of lower secondary school in the classroom in a village in Kolda region, southern Senegal. Adolescent mothers and married girls study in this school.
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
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…
News

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
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

Implement Elimination of Violence Against Women Law

(New York) - The Afghan government should hold accountable those who seek to impose brutal customary punishments such as baad, where women and girls are given as compensation for crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. In order to eradicate such abusive…
News

Testimony of Rachel Reid to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Thank you, Senator Boxer and Senator Casey, for the invitation to testify at this important and timely hearing. I have been working on Afghanistan since 2006, and living there for most of the last three years. For the past year much of my focus has…
News

Extremist Threat to Women Increasing, Government Failing to Protect

(New York) - Eight years after the fall of the Taliban, women and girls suffer high levels of violence and discrimination and have poor access to justice and education, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.  The Afghan government has…
News
Images of long lines of Afghan women patiently waiting to cast their votes in last October’s presidential election, and the candidacy of a female doctor for president, seem vividly to symbolise the progress of women since the fall of the Taliban just over…