Afghanistan: Protect women & girls from violence. Don’t sign new law rolling back women’s rights. - Equality Now

Afghanistan: Protect women & girls from violence. Don’t sign new law rolling back women’s rights.


17 FEBRUARY 2014 UPDATE: Your voices were heard! Following intense international advocacy, The Guardian has reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered changes to the new proposed legislation that is threatening the safety and rights of Afghan women and girls. On 17 February, Karzai’s spokesperson is said to have stated that the new “Afghan criminal prosecution code won't come into force unless new amendments are made." Specifically, rewrites were requested to allow a woman or girl who was assaulted by a relative, as well as any close relatives who may have witnessed the attack, to be able to testify against the attacker (Article 26).

Equality Now and our partner, Women for Afghan Women, welcome this news but until the official revisions are made available for review, please continue to keep up the pressure to stop signature of this bill into law.

New legislation recently passed by the Afghan parliament is threatening the safety and security of Afghan women and girls. If signed into law, the effects would be devastating – rapes, beatings and “honor” killings could occur with relative impunity, fathers could more easily arrange child marriages and women and girls would have little chance of getting justice for violence against them. If a woman or girl is assaulted by a relative, not only would she be prevented from testifying against her attacker, but any other close relative of the accused assailant who was a witness, would also be barred.

Silencing witnesses, who include not only relatives of the accused…does far more than allow these acts to occur with impunity. It encourages them to take place,” says Women for Afghan Women.

Afghan women have been fighting for equal rights and protection under the law, and they are in imminent danger of losing their hard won gains. Please stand with Equality Now and our partner, Women for Afghan Women, in urgently calling on President Karzai to not sign the code into law.

Take Action

1) Urge President Karzai not to sign the new criminal procedure code into law in line with Afghanistan’s international and constitutional commitments to protect women’s rights and ensure equal rights for women under the law.

President Karzai
Presidential Palace
Tel:  +93 (20) 210 2853, +93 (20) 210 3705, +93 (20) 210 3705 
Email: [email protected]

2)  Sign Women for Afghan Women’s petition to President Obama and Secretary Kerry calling on the United States government to live up to its promise to not abandon Afghan women as it prepares for troop withdrawal.

3) Help spread the word! Share this with your networks and tweet the following message to the President. You can also retweet from @equalitynow.

@ARG_AFG Protect the human rights of Afghan women and girls. Don’t sign the new criminal code into law. #VAW

Dear President Karzai,

I am deeply concerned about the new criminal procedure code, passed by both houses of Parliament, which would erode important legal protections for women and girls. I urge you not to sign it into law.

I understand that Article 26(4) of the new criminal procedure code prevents relatives of the accused assailant who are witnesses to these crimes from testifying in court, even voluntarily. This would effectively provide impunity for those who violate women’s and girls’ rights including those who subject them to domestic violence, forced and/or child marriage, and trafficking.

Afghanistan has ratified both the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which calls for the equal protection of women and girls, including from gender-based violence. We urge you to comply with your international legal obligations, including by enforcing the 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women and calling for the revision on the new legislation.

Thank you for your attention.