New UN report takes firm stand on women's rights in Afghanistan

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Kabul (Afghanistan), July 9 (ANI): A new United Nations report has called for an end to the prevailing abuse against women in Afghanistan, and warned that ignoring this culture of impunity will create an environment of political and social insecurity.

The report, titled "Silence is Violence," documents the increasingly insecure environment for women in public spaces and the failure of state institutions to deal with it, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

The document, which was co-written by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCR) and the UN's Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), says that the argument that it's more important to "have security rather than human rights ... is absolutely the wrong concept, since you need human rights for sustainable peace."

Dr. Sima Samar, the chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, explained that the denial of women's rights is usually on the grounds of culture and tradition.

The report documents violence that inhibits participation of women in public life, identifying perpetrators as anti-government elements, local traditional and religious power holders, women's own families and communities and, in some instances, government authorities.

Sexual violence against women was found to be perpetrated by close family members, staff of prisons and rehabilitation centers, military commanders, and members of illegal armed groups and criminal gangs.

"The pattern of attacks against women operating in the public sphere sends a strong message to all women to stay at home," says the report.

"This has obvious ramifications for the transformation of Afghanistan, the stated priority of Afghan authorities, and their international supporters."

"Rhetoric [has not been] matched by reality," says the head of UNAMA's human rights unit, Norah Niland.

The UN report and its message were backed at the highest level of the UN's presence in Afghanistan. It was released in the residence of the UN secretary-general's special representative, Kai Eide, the top UN diplomat in Afghanistan. (ANI)

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