Women Under Attack in Iraq, Afghanistan
"We are only a few years removed from the rule of the terrorists, when women were denied education and every basic human right. That tyranny has been replaced by a young democracy, and the power of freedom is on display across Afghanistan."
-Laura Bush, "highlighting" women's achievements in Afghanistan, March 30, 2005
Women are facing increasing violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, especially when they speak out publicly to defend women's rights, a senior U.N. official told the U.N. Security Council.
Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of the U.N. Development Fund for Women, called on for fresh efforts to ensure the safety of women in countries emerging from conflicts, to provide them with jobs, and ensure that they receive justice, including compensation for rape.
"What UNIFEM is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking," Heyzer said Thursday. "Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare defend women's rights in public decision-making."
Heyzer spoke at a daylong open council meeting on implementation of a 2000 resolution that called for women to be included in decision-making positions at every level of striking and building on peace deals. It also called for the prosecution of crimes against women and increased protection of women and girls during war.
Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno said that, in the past year, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the first woman head of state in Africa, Liberia adopted an anti-rape law, women in Sierra Leone pushed for laws on human trafficking, inheritance and property rights and women in East Timor submitted a draft domestic violence bill to parliament.
Despite these positive developments, he said, women face widespread insecurity and in many societies violence is still used as a tool to control and regulate the actions of women and girls seeking to rebuild their homes and communities.