in brief: UN watchdog says women’s rights threatened in afghanistan
Women’s rights in Afghanistan are at risk of being undermined in the peace process, according to a United Nations watchdog.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women says patriarchal attitudes and the country’s political turmoil are partly to blame for existing problems and that the peace process may have a twofold effect on women’s access to educate and other matters.
Rates of violence against women in Afghanistan are extremely high. A 2008 report found that 87.2% of women suffered from some form of domestic violence in their lives. As of 2009, the maternal mortality rate was the second highest in the world. Female literacy is at 15%, compared to 47% of male adults. Progress has been made in these areas since the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, but the UN’s report indicates that this movement could be destabilised in the peace process.
Such threats to women’s rights include access to education, which may be curtailed. Afghan women have fought long and hard for the right to be educated. Without foreign troops to assist in the administration of justice, the UN believes that these rights could be revoked if the Taliban is to regain its grip on power.
In addition, the chair of the UN committee, Nicole Ameline, is concerned that women’s rights are being sacrificed in order to negotiate with Taliban groups.
‘Women’s interests and needs may be compromised in the peace negotiations due to deep rooted patriarchal attitudes,’ she says.
‘We have 18 months [before the NATO withdrawal].
‘There could be backsliding and we cannot accept that.’
Do you think the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan will negatively affect women’s rights?
Is the UN an effective judge of these things?
Is concern over women’s rights in other countries another form of cultural imperialism?
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