On Saturday 18/May a number of Afghan parliamentarians have branded the law on the Elimination of Violence against Women as un-Islamic.
The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, which has been enacted through a decree of President of Islamic Repuublic of Afghanistan in 2009 is considered a major step forward in the legal protection of women's rights after the Afghan constitution. The EVAW law which aims at addressing the grieve situation of violence against women and young girls in the country is a joint achievement of Afghan women from civil society, parliament and government.
EVAW law criminalizes child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying of women for the purpose or under the pretext of marriage, b a'ad (giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute), forced self-immolation and 17 other acts of violence against women including rape and beating.
The EVAW law is already enforced by Attorney General Offices and Courts around the country and is becoming an important reference for women's rights. Reports have shown that more than 60% of family courts all around the country are using EVAW law as a reference for resolving cases of violence.
Afghan civil society in cooperation with other stakeholders has invested immense time and resources to raise awareness about this law, provide technical training and advocate for its implementation all around the country. Several efforts has been in place in last two years to ensure and safeguard of women's rights from any unnecessary scrutiny of the law in Afghan Parliament, where law already has legal status of being published in official gazette (989) and enforced and acted upon in attorney offices and family courts around the country and has proven to be an important reference of women's rights defenders.
We Afghan Civil Society therefore once again call on Afghan Government, Parliament and International Community to support the call of the civil society in safeguarding of the law in best interest of women and children rights in the country.
We call on Afghan President and Government to safeguard the important achievement of its time. The implementation of the
EVAW law and protection of women's rights is among the key indicators of Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (2012). While Afghanistan has too much to prove on good governance and eliminating corruption front, EVAW law remains as one of few landmark achievement to bring pride to this nation to avert all the images of past brutality and medieval treatment of women in the country.
We ask once again the Afghan Parliament to embrace the EVAW law as a legal tool to address the grieve situation of violence against women of the country and endorse the law as it's in the best interest of children and women of the country. No doubt Islam is a religion of ‘rights', ‘tolerance' and ‘justice', and just because of negative tradition and ignorance that is prevailing in the country we cannot choose for women; dismembering of their bodies organs, slaughter of children and women while the rest of Afghan society is enjoying democratic exercise of elections, campaign and deciding policy and legislative in the parliament.
The EVAW bill has been drafted through efforts of committed men and women's research of different interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence, study of Islamic laws of other countries besides consulting national and international legal binding that Afghan State is party to.
We remind Women Commission of Parliament as central legislative body for Afghan women to prioritize women's rights protection, promotion in more strategic way over any other internal and external politics of the parliament. To respect and value the transparency of democratic processes and consider the vitality of civil society and women's right movement as genuine alliance for building a strong and just Afghanistan. Consultation, consensus building with your natural constituency is only strengthening democratic process not challenging individual credential of any Member of Parliament. A visible distinction of Afghan parliament and due presence of 69 women in lower house is not by chance but due to efforts of activists and struggle made by young movement of women in constitution development Loya Jirga (2003/2004).
Last but not least we urge International Community, that your interlocking and intervention in last 12 years brought a lot of changes in politics and development that today Afghan Nation are enjoying. We stress that fund allocated for women's progress to be used in more strategic way and to respect Do NO Harm principal.
Improving women's rights situation has been an important wove that International Community made to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001. Before beginning of 2014, it is important to see consolidation of these efforts and let not Afghanistan fall back on its promises of London, Bonn and Tokyo agreements. We consider EVAW law as an important benchmark of lasting peace, security that needs to be safeguarded.