Human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) has warned about escalating violence, including threats, sexual assaults and assassinations, facing female Afghan activists.
In a report released Tuesday, the rights group said the Afghan government and the international community are doing nothing to stop the trend of mounting violence targeting women human rights activists in the country, despite the gains they have made in the past decade.
“Women human rights defenders from all walks of life have fought bravely for some significant gains over the past 14 years - many have even paid with their lives,” Amnesty chief Salil Shetty said.
“It's outrageous that Afghan authorities are leaving them to fend for themselves, with their situation more dangerous than ever," he added.
The rights organization said, “While Taliban are responsible for the majority of attacks against women defenders, government officials or powerful local commanders with the authorities’ backing are increasingly implicated in violence and threats against women.”
Amnesty also lashed out at the international community for “doing far too little to ease” women’s plight.
The group said international investment to support Afghan women “has been piecemeal and ad hoc, and much of the aid money is drying up.”
Amnesty said it had found “a consistent pattern of authorities ignoring or refusing to take seriously threats against women.”
“Few investigations were carried out, while prosecutions and convictions were even rarer,” AI noted, adding, “In many cases, women defenders who reported violence or attacks were put at further risk, facing stigmatization or threats simply for speaking out.”
Afghan protesters hold banners as they shout slogans during a rally in front of the Supreme Court in the capital Kabul on March 24, 2015, against the killing of Afghan woman Farkhunda. © AFP
Amnesty further pointed out that those facing threats and violence range from rights activists, politicians, lawyers, journalists, and teachers.
“Even women in the police force are under threat, where sexual harassment and bullying is rife and almost always goes unpunished,” the report said.
The Amnesty report came less than three weeks after an Afghan woman was killed by a mob in the capital city of Kabul after being falsely accused of burning the holy Qur'an.
On March 19, the 27-year-old theology student named Farkhunda was brutally beaten with rocks and sticks before being run over by a car in front of one of Kabul’s most venerated shrines.