<\body> Stories in America: Rise in 'Honor Killings' in Afghanistan

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rise in 'Honor Killings' in Afghanistan

From a friend:

October 7th 2006 marks the 5th anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom. The plight of Afghan women for equality, justice and peace made headlines five years ago. However, violence against women is on rise in public and private spheres. During my visit to Kabul in May 2003 as part of Women's Intercultural Network's (WIN) delegation, Afghan women repeatedly expressed their concerns and asked us to bring this message to their American sisters and society at large. "Do not forget us".

All the recent reports indicates that the Taliban culture and it's presence is at rise in the life of Afghan women. It is a harsh reality of our world that women's rights, security and empowerment is a benchmark of the presence of religious extremism/fundamentalism. No matter in Iran, India or Afghanistan , the regressive forces attempt to redefine the position of women at home and in society and violate their rights as an equal human being. "Oppression can only survive through silence " and that is the reason that Afghan women will not be silent and coming to the streets of Kabul to protest the rise in honor killings.
A weak judiciary, a lack of law enforcement and widespread discriminatory practices against women are fuelling a rise in honour killings in Afghanistan, officials from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on Friday.

Bebi (not her real name) fears for her life after fleeing her house in the southeastern province of Paktia in June. The 15-year-old said she was forced into a marriage that she did not want. I was engaged to an old man when I was only six months old, how can that be right?

She's now living incognito with friends in the capital Kabul. Facilities to protect women like Bebi are virtually nil in Afghanistan and many resign themselves to their fate.

My husband treated me like an animal, not as a human, with daily beatings and torture and locking me indoors, Bebi said. I know he [husband] is pursuing me to kill me because he thinks I have disgraced him but God knows it is he who was guilty.

So-called honour killings, which rights activists say have become increasingly common in Afghanistan, are murders of women or girls who are believed to have brought shame on the family name. They are usually carried out by male family members, or sometimes by contractors who are paid to carry out the killing and occasionally by children too young to face the law.

The killings are commonly carried out on women and girls refusing to enter into an arranged marriage or for having a relationship that the family considers to be inappropriate. Due to such pressures from families, many women are driven to suicide or flee their homes to escape an honour killing.

According to AIHRC, some 185 women and girls have been killed by family members so far this year, a significant increase on the previous year. But rights activists say that the real number is much higher as many such cases go unreported, particularly in rural areas.

Unfortunately, many women and girls continue to lose their lives due to this [honour killing] brutal crime. Sadly, its totally ingrained in [Afghan] culture, particularly in rural areas of the country, Soraya Sobrang, head f AIHRC, told IRIN.

Sobrang blamed weak prosecution of perpetrators and a lack of awareness among women about their rights as the key factors driving the practice.


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