By Civil Society and Human Rights Organisation in Herat
Women in Afghanistan continue to face social, political and cultural difficulties. These difficulties appear at home as well in the society as such.
The Civil Society and Human Rights Organization (CSHRO), feels responsible to work with other stakeholders and partners to reduce domestic violence in Herat province. The goal of the program is to promote human rights values in families in order to reduce any inhuman behavior in this sphere.
From January 2009, the CSHRO Office in Herat City has been organizing a campaign to reduce family violence in Herat city. CSHRO organized together with its member organizations debates and capacity building programs for its member organizations, some state institutions, religious leaders, the police, the justice sector and for the Ministry of Women Affaires about challenges related to family violence in Herat.
During the campaign, CSHRO faced the following challenges:
There are some institutions and individuals in Herat who are based on religious fundamentalism. They have a fanatical understanding of the role of religion in the society. They are the main challenge for reducing domestic violence in Herat . Spreading their message from mosques and larger gatherings, they propagandize against freedom of women in the society. Recently the Counsel of Religious Leaders released a statement, where it was announced that families should not allow girls and women to study outside of the country. According to this decree, women should furthermore always be accompanied by a close family member. The statement was published by the national regional TV and many other national media in the Herat province. We believe that such kind of statements limit the role of women in the society and retreat women freedoms and their social life. We believe that the governor of Herat must stop such behaviors which are against our constitution, and others national legislations related to civil and political rights in Afghanistan.
One of the important challenges for reducing family violence is the old educational system in Herat . The educational system in Herat is very outmoded and lacks human rights values. At the same time, the teachers who educate the children and the young generation do not have sufficient understanding of human rights values. Furthermore, some of the school teachers are to be regarded as fundamentalistic Islamic believers. Consequently, we believe that the educational system should be changed. It is very important that the educational system contains human rights values, moderate Islamic thoughts and respect for the family.
Police and justice sector:
The women in Herat do not have equal access to justice in the society. When a woman needs to go to the court, she faces a lot of problems. The court is a patriarchal system, which can have as a consequence that women feel discriminated in their access to justice. The lack of women lawyers in the justice sector limits the equal treatment of women in the judicial system. Several cases of debauchery among the police have badly damaged the role of women in the police. That means that the Afghan women in Herat do not have any interest in becoming police officers. Saying that, the role of the police becomes very critical amongst Herat women.
Corruption in the judicial and police systems is another main challenge for women in Herat . During family disputes between men and women, the man will often bribe police and hereby end the dispute in his favor. Therefore, we call for the government to make a proper strategy to eliminate corruption.
One of the main problems is the implementation of law. Unfortunately, sometimes the implantation of law causes problems in the society. The contravention amongst articles in the Afghan constitution causes problems in the implementation of law in heart, which is why the justice system uses the tradition and customary law. Because of this, women become victims of the judgments. We would like to ask why the justice sector uses traditional and customary law when we have a constitution and a law that prescribes the elimination of violence against women.
We suggest that the controversial understanding of the constitution should be tackled properly. The government must provide facilities for interpretation of these controversial elements in the Afghan constitution. We suggest that the Afghan government in Herat monitors the implementation of Afghan civil law in the Herat province. We also suggest that the judicial system starts using the Afghan civil law and the law of elimination of family violence in Afghanistan during the judicial dispute in the court. We also suggest that the Afghan women should have equal access to justice during any family dispute. The local government should monitor this process.
The outcome of this study shows that the civil society, governmental institutions, intellectuals and other human rights defenders must cooperate in order to reduce family violence in Herat . Furthermore, the study suggests the civil society and the state institutions to coordinate their activities to implement the law of elimination of family violence in Herat . For this propose, we suggest that a mechanism called Committee of Coordination to Reduce Family Violence should be organized amongst civil society and state institutions. The committee should consist of 13 members. These members should be representative of the local government, Ministry of Women Affairs, the police, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission , Ministry of Education, Ministry of Ahj-e- Awqaf, the general prosecution office, court, the Ministry of Information and Culture, provincial counsels, the media, Ministry of Justice and CSHRO.
The Coordinating Committee for Reduction of Family Violence in Herat will use the recommendations of this study and provide proper programs to implement the recommendations of this study. The committee will take the recommendations of this study as a starting point when making its agenda of activities. The committee will work in close collaboration with the local government. The committee will meet once a month. The CSHRO office in the West facilitates and coordinates the activities of the committee. The members of the committee meet every three month with the governor of Herat.