A brutal reminder of the danger still facing Afghan women
In the week that one of the most powerful women in the world – Hillary Clinton – visited Afghanistan, the harsh reality of life for many Afghan women was starkly illustrated by two brutal murders in different parts of the country.
On 7 July, the same day that the US Secretary of State announced that Afghanistan would be considered a ‘major non-NATO ally’, a video emerged of a 22-year-old woman being killed in public, supposedly for adultery.
The woman, who has been named as Najiba, was forced to kneel in the dirt and was shot five times at close range, as a jubilant male crowd cheered in Parwan province, just an hour from Kabul.
Later that week, the head of women’s affairs in Laghman province was killed when a bomb that had been attached to her car exploded. Hanifa Safi is the second provincial head of women’s affairs to be assassinated in the decade since the roles were introduced.
After Mrs Clinton’s trip to Kabul, she accompanied President Hamid Karzai to an international donors’ conference in Tokyo, where Afghanistan was granted $16bn in development aid until 2015.
The EU pledged €1.2bn a year, but warned that if progress was not made with the rule of law and women’s rights, it could be difficult to continue.
It is crucial that the international community works with the Afghan government to ensure that Afghan women are represented in discussions about Afghanistan’s future and women’s rights are one of the key indicators of progress towards peace and security.
However, there was some evidence of the progress that has been made there, as a group of at least 100 brave women, and a few men, took to the streets of Kabul to protest at the murder of Najiba. It was an act that would have been unthinkable during Taliban rule.
They held up banners calling for justice and asking the international community to take action. It was a small but striking show of defiance on the part of those Afghan women, in what has been another dark few days for women’s rights.
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