News / Asia

Sharp Rise in Afghan Women Imprisoned for 'Moral Crimes'

An Afghan inmate watches from behind a barred window during a media event at a women's prison in Kabul, March 30, 2010.
An Afghan inmate watches from behind a barred window during a media event at a women's prison in Kabul, March 30, 2010.
Reuters
About 600 Afghan women and girls are behind bars for so-called moral crimes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday, the highest number since the Taliban were toppled almost 12 years ago.
 
Running away from home, usually from abuse and forced marriage, and alleged adultery, which often involves rape, have landed most of the 600 women in prison. That figure is an increase of 50 percent over the last 18 months.
 
“That increase reflects a shameful lack and failure of political will by both the government of Afghanistan and its foreign donors and allies,'' Phelim Kine, HRW's deputy director of Asia, told reporters.
 
Women have won back rights of education and work since the Taliban were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001, but there are fears these freedoms could be curtailed after most NATO-led forces leave by the end of next year.
 
Rights workers and some Afghan female lawmakers accuse President Hamid Karzai's government of doing too little to protect women - allegations his administration denies.
 
The New York-based rights group said the statistics on girls and women in prison came from the Interior Ministry.
 
The findings come days after parliament failed to ratify an Elimination of Violence Against Women law, which would have strengthened a 2009 presidential decree banning forced and underage marriage, beatings and rape.
 
Conservative religious lawmakers blocked the decree's ratification, arguing some articles were un-Islamic, such as keeping the legal age for women to marry at 16 and maintaining the existence of shelters for domestic abuse victims.
 
“If the parliament were to in future reverse this law, that would have very, very serious consequences for Afghanistan,'' said HRW Afghanistan researcher Heather Barr. On Monday, the United Nations urged the government to ratify the law.
 
Barr said if the abuse of girls and women continued, countries that help Afghanistan might not be willing to.
 
“International donors will not support a country where girls who are 9 or 10 years old can be married,'' she said.
 
While HRW said it was difficult to pinpoint the reason for the increase in the imprisonment of women for "moral crimes,'' Barr said incarceration of both men and women had risen across the country in recent years.
 
The pending withdrawal of foreign troops and dwindling global interest in Afghanistan may also play a role.
 
“As everyone anticipates the departure of foreigners, there is a feeling that, in a sense, things can go back to normal,'' she said.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid