News / Asia

Afghan Women Silenced by Fear

FILE - Women listen to a speech by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai during a district assembly gathering in Kabul on May 30, 2013.FILE - Women listen to a speech by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai during a district assembly gathering in Kabul on May 30, 2013.
x
FILE - Women listen to a speech by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai during a district assembly gathering in Kabul on May 30, 2013.
FILE - Women listen to a speech by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai during a district assembly gathering in Kabul on May 30, 2013.
Sharon Behn
Women in Afghanistan are increasingly worried about a return to the repressive policies of the past as international combat forces leave the country. Following years of outspoken activism, women are retreating into public silence to avoid being targeted by extremists.

Even after defiantly dropping the all-covering burqa following the fall of the Taliban government a decade ago, many women in Afghanistan now are reluctant to speak their mind on camera. Many women fear a family backlash, or worse, punishment by extremists in a highly conservative society.
 
Until recently, women activists were noticeably different.

But as international forces start to leave Afghanistan and uncertainty hovers over the country’s political future, women’s rights activists, female politicians and women leaders are being targeted more often.
 
Those defending women's rights are receiving death threats, said Susanne Baberg, Afghanistan project manager for Medica Mondiale, a women's rights advocacy group that works closely with Afghan activists. And they are coming under increasing pressure from their families to stop working.
 
"Given the current circumstances, it is not very advisable or popular to give public interviews, to go into debates on television, on radio, or in other media," Baberg said. "They are really trying to keep a very low profile, particularly if you take into account the threats and the assassinations of popular, active women in society in the last two, three months."
 
A high-ranking Afghan police woman died Monday after being shot by insurgents in southern Helmand province. Her predecessor was killed by unknown gunmen in July. The latest killing comes after a number of attacks on Afghan women lawmakers.
 
Baberg said the fallout from attacks on high-profile women is far-reaching.
 
"Besides keeping a low profile in the media, avoiding high level advocacy meetings, and varying routes on their way to work, our Afghan colleagues have ceased to visit their clients in their homes," she said. "They meet the women in different places in the community. Then community-level meetings with mullahs and village elders, which are part of several projects involving mediation and increasing the number of police women, are reduced to an absolute minimum."

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned this week that human rights achievements in Afghanistan during the past 12 years were fragile. She expressed concern that the withdrawal of international combat forces could trigger a serious deterioration in human rights, especially regarding women.
 
“So then this is the moment for human rights to be strengthened, not weakened or sacrificed," Pillay said. "The Afghan government has made many statements proclaiming their commitment to strengthening human rights, which is reassuring, but action is needed now, more than ever."
 
Analysts say there are concerns that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other political leaders may be willing to surrender ground on women's rights issues in order to gain support from more conservative and extremist elements on a negotiated settlement.
 
Pillay said in her discussions with Karzai, she emphasized that justice and human rights should not be sacrificed to political expediency.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid