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Afghan Women in Pursuit of Justice - March 2017

Afghan women in pursuit of justice7th March 2017 |by Wazhma Frogh | Originally posted on Sister-hood Magazine  Last week we were shocked by the reports of an angry mob that attacked the police station in Nuristan and shot a couple that had eloped to marry without the consent of their families and communities. The family and community that killed the couple claimed they were restoring their ‘honour’ by shooting them with rifles and scores of bullets. I was once again reminded of Farkhunda, who was lynched and murdered on the streets of Kabul. In Afghanistan, when a man takes the life of a woman and claims that he did so because she was guilty of immorality, adultery or ‘dishonoring religion and culture’, he is rarely punished for his act. In return, that man is in fact praised for having acted to ‘protect’ the religion, culture and the family’s ‘honour’. The same men, with the same mentality, brutally attacked, tortured, killed, threw her body into the river and burned it. This was me…
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What went wrong? Part-1

When it comes to women's rights in Afghanistan, almost everyone has a viewpoint. One says, its all about NGOs, and getting money through donor projects, another says, women's rights is a political tool of the international community to continue engaging in Afghanistan. For someone, its just an empty slogan, for another its hatred for women's activists who haven't been able to change anything in their own lives so how can they change the lives of other women and the labels would never end when you start the discussion on women's rights in Afghanistan. 
Many of the critiques dismiss women's rights as a non existing phenomenon in Afghanistan and consider women's Islamic rights the only rights of a woman, even when the men and women of this country hardly know anything of those Islamic rights, but are the strict guardians of the term. Critiques also object women's rights because they think that women's activists don't believ…

My Afghanistan Story ( The Hill)

After 20 hours flying from Kabul airport, I finally arrived in New York to attend the Afghanistan Panels at the Commission on the Status of Women at the U.N., inaugurate a photo exhibition of Afghan women at the Congress, and launch the Resolution to Act which is ensuring that Afghan women are at the table during talks with the Taliban. While coming to the United States, during the flight from Dubai to JFK, I was preparing my talking points and presentation on the situation of Afghan women, and kept comparing our lives with the situation 12 years ago, and only one statement kept echoing in my head that we’ve come a long way.

For me the progress that is made in Afghanistan is beyond President Karzai or any other individual in the government. This progress is about our own lives. Our struggles to change our own lives from complete isolation to getting on to the world stage, and that in 11 years, has been realized to some degree. This progress is about the female MPs that lobby politics i…

The Problem With One Donor's Attempt to Save the 6-year-old Girl Profiled in the New York Times Last Week (The Atlantic)

In January, many of us activists in Afghanistan were enraged as we read in the BBC about a 6-year-old girl named Naghma who was going to be sold by her father to settle a family debt. Naghma's father had taken some 250,000 Rupees (around $2,500) from a relative a year back, and having suffered the insecurities of Helmand, they took refuge in one of the camps in Kabul. Now, he was prepared to give away his daughter to the other family in order to settle the debt.

Since I work on cases of violence against women and provide support to women at risk, I immediately contacted the Ministry of Interior to intervene against the proposed sale. According to the laws of Afghanistan, selling anyone for any purpose is illegal and, as per the 2009 Elimination of Violence against Women Law (considered a huge achievement here), the father, the tribal elders who held the trial-like jirga process, and the relative who agreed to the engagement would all be jailed for at least three to six years.

To fin…

Freedom of speech ...but for your homes first!

There is this television channel that keeps promoting negative propaganda about women and generally the journalists from that network that has alot of viewership are rather critics than journalists and usually they talk more than the people they interview, so I stay away from them most of the time. 
This time the head of the television network found a very good friend of mine and made him request me for an interview. I couldnt say No and agreed to meet the crew in my office around 9 am, Tuesday today. 
As I got to the office from the snowy roads and crazy Kabul traffic, my colleague came that a group of cameramen, journalists are outside and say they have an interview with you. I remembered my promise and with lots of hesitation, called them inside. Next, were around 5 young men, three of them camera men and technical staff and two were apparently the anchors who wanted to host this question time. I welcomed them all and offered them a glass of green tea as they prepared their camera…

Lal Bibi's journey for justice

Who is Lal Bibi? to those who havent read her story in NYT and other places, I will summarize that Lal Bibi, 21, was abducted, raped & tortured for five consecutive days by the armed men who are incharge of the Afghan Local Police ( an auxilillary militia called Arbakis) in Kunduz during May 2012. She was punished for the animosity that her cousin had with the armed men of ALP. In Afghanistan, a family's 'honor' is tied with a woman of the family and she is punished to account for someone els's deeds...that is a long story.
There is nothing new about this story either. We have rape cases taking place in this part of the world almost every day but what was so strange about Lal Bibi's case was that her whole tribe stood up for her. For whatever reason ( many say its political) but seeing 50 bearded turbaned men who are the village council's head, provincial council's members, tribal leaders, the mosque mullahs and the community members coming to Kabul acc…

Struggle....even at the doorsteps

This evening I was returning home from a tough day of struggle. A morning that started hearing about the uncertain future of the country's National Human Rights Commission, one of the few semi-government institutions that support us activists and civil society, continued with a review of one of the projects I am supporting in Kunduz and Hirat provinces in which we are tracking the cases of violence against women, and just reviewing 45 cases reported in three weeks in one province, horrified me. There are hundreds of other cases that never get registered nor those silent victims have ever the opportunity to complain to a women's affairs office in their province. The afternoon was spent in another struggle of trying to find a DNA testing facility for a woman whose husband has accused her that their second child, is not his. He is powerful and can easily prove that, and our legal system that is inherently a woman's enemy, wont think twice before convicting her guilty, in whic…

Our voices are not stoned to death!!!

On Friday, 06 July 2012, Ms Fawzia Koofi, one of the prominent female MPs called and with a disturbingly quiet tone asked whether I knew about the Parwan incident. I said Yes, saw a tweet from one of the BBC journalists but dont know if its true or not. She said its true and she saw the video. After we both mourned the incident, she said if women dont stand all these violence, we will all face this fate, one by one. We hanged on the phone and I started digging deeper to find out what happened. 
Though, we still dont know the exact account of the heinous act of violence and oppression that we all witnessed in that video- we are all so shocked & furious over the fact that najiba  was brutally murdered. No matter who did it, that does not make any difference. The information that we have been able to obtain to date is that Najiba, 21 year old who was either kidnapped or forced to come to the house of one of the armed commanders (apparently a taleb as the Parwan governor emphasizes) …