The cultural inflexibility and approaches based on indecent traditions and harmful practices are an acrimonious result of a lack of awareness about human and women’s rights in Afghanistan. These practices are grounded in tradition and can be attributed to religion. They lead to pain, suffering, humiliation and the marginalization of millions of Afghan women and girls which violate the most basic human rights of half the population. The harmful traditional practices mentioned above include forced and child marriages, exchanging of girls to settle disputes, exchange marriages, and honor killing.
Such practices originate in entrenched discriminatory views about the role and position of women and girls in society. For more than three decades, harmful traditional practices have been further reinforced by widespread poverty and insecurity in Afghanistan. Almost all women are unaware of their basic rights. The seizure of women’s basic rights is considered the legitimate right of men, by both men and many women; even physical violence against women is considered the legitimate right of men.
To contribute to the reduction of violence against women, Shuhada Organization (SO) has implemented numerous projects under human and women’s rights. In twenty-four provinces of Afghanistan, 1,443,728 males and females have been beneficiaries over the past 26 years. SO conducted three significant projects in 2015, with 10,612 direct beneficiaries (Female: 5,968 – Male: 4,644) of the project. Overall 1,454,340 individuals were benefited from human and women’s rights projects for over 27 years. See 2015’s projects detail as in below:
2.1. Support to Provincial EVAW Commission:
The Afghan government, with the financial and technical support of UN-Women, has established a commission at the provincial level. This commision is comprised of the provincial governor, heads of line departments, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Provincial Council (PC) members and more. It was created specifically to work on the cases of violence against women under the shade of Elimination Violation Against Women (EVAW) law. The provincial governor leads the commission, while the Department of Women’s Affairs (DoWA) and SO support the commission to function as it is mandated.
In 2015, SO implemented the project to support the provincial EVAW commission in Bamyan, Daikundi, Kunar, Samangan and Takhar. They support these provinces with the specific services stated below:
– Technical and logistic support to EVAW provincial commissions
– Managing provincial resource centers
– Conducting legal awareness programs
– Capacity-building training for members of the EVAW provincial commissions and for the staff of DoWA, as necessary
The project in Bamyan and Daikundi began on 1st May 2015 and ended on 30th December 2015. By the end of this project, twenty-seven monthly EVAW commission meetings were conducted and 293 cases were followed by the EVAW commission, some of which were solved. Twenty-four community outreach sessions (eleven in Bamyan and thirteen in Daikundi) organized 962 individuals (Female: 768 – Male: 194) of the target community members on the context of EVAW law. A number of 3,239 individuals, (Female: 1,392 – Male: 1,847) including university and school students, government officials and NGOs staff, visited the Resource Centers (RC) in Bamyan and Daikundi provinces. Thirty EVAW members (Female: nine – Male: twenty-one) received trainings on Women’s Rights in National laws and International Conventions in Bamyan province and twenty-seven EVAW members (Female: twelve – Male: fifteen) in Daikundi province.
The total direct beneficiaries of the project in Bamyan and Daikundi were 4,258 individuals (Female: 2,181 – Male: 2,077).
The same project was implemented in Kunar, Samangan and Takhar provinces; it began on 20th October, 2014 and ended on 30th December, 2015. Thirty-four monthly EVAW commission meetings conducted and three hundred and eleven cases were followed up by the members of the EVAW commission. A number of 1,336 individuals (Female: 910 – Male: 426) participated in outreach sessions held in the target communities.
While visiting visited RC’s in the provinces, 3,332 individuals (Female: 1,858 – Male: 1,474) used the internet, books, copiers and scanners. In Takhar and Samangan provinces, 56 EVAW commission members (Female: 27 – Male: 29) provided proposal and report writing training, as well as fifteen EVAW commission members (Female: 4 – Male: 11) who received training on women’s fundamental rights in Kunar province. In total, 4,739 individuals (Female: 2,799 – Male: 1,940) benefited from the project.
Beneficiaries: 8,997 individuals (Female: 4,980 – Male: 4,017) – Indirect beneficiaries: 62,979 individuals
Duration: 12 Months (January 1, 2015 – December 30, 2015)
Location: Bamyan, Daikundi, Kunar, Samangan, Takhar Provinces
Donor: UN Women
2.1.1. Shamila Reached Her Right by the Help of EVAW Commission Members: (Success Story of the above Project)
On 30th July 2015, a case solved in a EVAW commission meeting was that of Ms. Shamila D/o of Hussain, resident of Kart-e- Sulh, Samangan province. Her domestic violence case was followed and discussed by EVAW commission members and consequently a decision was made and the case was solved.
Shamila and Khalil have been married for two years and they have a child. She was punished and tortured by her husband’s family for a long time. She took her case to DoWA once before but, by consultation of community elders, she agreed to ignore the problem of her husband repeatedly committing violence against her. For a second time, she took her problem to DoWA for it to be solved. Her case was added to the agenda of the monthly meeting. Both sides of the dispute were present in the meeting. The wife claimed that the cause of the humiliation and violence stemmed from her husband’s family; they were interfering in their lives. Shamila no longer wanted to live with her husband and wanted to get a divorce.
The members of EVAW commission spoke with both of them, and they ultimately agreed to not get a legal divorce but, to be live in a separate home from Khalil’s family. According to the solution reached at the EVAW meeting, a commitment letter should be given to Shamila from Khalil agreeing to provide her a separate house and not commit any violence against her.
2.1.2. Malalai Stepped Ahead towards Improvement: (Success Story of the above Project)
Malalai, a student of Law faculty, is one of the Resource Center (RC) visitors in Samangan province. She used the facilities of this center since its establishment. She stated, “We all girls have problems, especially trying to gain access to the city net cafes and trying to get resources for writing topics because girls may be harassed by boys at the net cafes. I always come to this RC, even though it is very far from the city and my house, because I can search for topics, and I learned how to make an email address for myself.” She showed her satisfaction and spoke of how she is very comfortable when at this RC.
2.2. Women’s Legal Empowerment and Human/Women’s Rights Promotion:
SO has conducted an awareness raising project with the title, “Women’s Legal Empowerment and Human and Women’s Rights Promotion.” This project was held in the Waras and Panjab districts of Bamyan province with the below objectives:
– To disseminate awareness of Human and Women’s Rights through different forms; especially through 88 human and women’s rights community dialogue sessions in 2,200 targeted areas.
– To advocate on Human and Women’s Rights through the establishment of two advocacy committees, one in each district (Panjab and Waras), conducting four district level dialogues and conducting two advocacy sessions on hot issues in form of theatre.
To achieve the above objectives, SO conducted 66 human and women’s rights community dialogue sessions.
Two advocacy training sessions were conducted and four district dialogues were held in the Waras and Panjab districts of Bamyan province.
Two advocacy committees including local citizens were established in the Panjab and Waras districts, aimed to develop and extend knowledge of women and men in terms of women’s rights.
During the project reporting period (April 2015 – December 2015), project supervisors and advocacy committees organized and conducted twenty-six monthly meetings in the SO sub-office in the Waras and Panjab districts.
The advocacy committees are advocating not only for the rights of gender-based violence victims, but also for changing the social norms of domestic violence, early or forced marriages, inheritance of women, and rights to choose and divorce.
Beneficiaries: 1,570 individuals (Female: 943 – Male: 627).
Duration: 12 months (April 1, 2015 – March 31, 2016)
Location: Panjab and Waras Districts of Bamyan Province
2.3. Supporting Afghan Women and Girl Prisoners:
Due to the poor condition of state prisons and insufficient family financial support of these prisoners, this project was designed to provide 45 Afghan women and girl prisoners with clothes and hygiene kits/toiletries in Bamyan and Daikundi provinces. The project was the continuation of previous projects for women and girl prisoners. The project contributed to the well-being of the prisoners, drawing the attention of local government to human and women’s rights. The prisoners were morally supported by SO, a civil society organization.
Beneficiaries: 45 individuals (Women and Girls).
Duration: Six months (July 1, 2015 – December 30, 2015)
Location: Centers of Bamyan and Daikundi Provinces
Donor: Good Gift Catalogue