UN: Spotty enforcement undermines Afghan law to protect women from abuse

KABUL, Afghanistan — A law meant to protect Afghan women from a host of abusive practices, including rape, forced marriage and the trading of women to settle disputes, is being undermined by spotty enforcement, the U.N. said in a report released Wednesday.


Afghanistan’s Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was passed in August 2009, raising hopes among women’s rights activists that Afghan women would get to fight back against abuses that had been ignored under Taliban rule. The law criminalized many abuses for the first time, including domestic violence, child marriage, driving a woman to resort to suicide and the selling and buying of women.


Yet the report found only a small percentage of reported crimes against women are pursued by the Afghan government.


Between March 2010 and March 2011 — the first full Afghan year the law was in effect — prosecutors opened 594 investigations involving crimes under the law. That’s only 26 percent of the 2,299 incidents registered by the Afghan human rights commission, the report said. And prosecutors went on to file indictments in only 155 cases, or 7 percent of the total number of crimes reported.


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