Gender-based violence ranks as one of the highest human rights issues facing our world today. Even though there have been major strides towards equality, parts of the world are yet to embrace equal rights between men and women. Recently, a new law passed in Afghanistan parliament that will make women who suffer from domestic violence and rape harder to get justice. This law will ban relatives of an accused person to testify against them. According to the UN, last year, Afghanistan saw a 28-percent increase in reports of attacks against women.
With this new law (which has been passed by parliament but is still in need of signature from Hamid Karzai), it will potentially silence women who have been abused and make it impossible for witnesses to intervene. Relatives could not testify when a woman has been abused or raped. This is significant because it gives abusers ability to abuse without worrying about the consequences or further prosecution. Since most Afghans live in walled compounds with extended families, most witnesses to violence will not be able to testify.
Further, this is concerning because of the prevalence of “honor” killings and forced marriages in Afghanistan. Every year, hundred of women are murdered in the Middle East and other parts of the world due to the dependency on honor killings. These killings are especially fostered in Afghanistan because the concepts of male status and family status are particularly important. Honor killings and forced marriages already often go unnoticed by the law as murder in the name of honor is considered to be family business. If this new law passes, trying to find justice against violence and murder will be harder for women. Since being passed by parliament there has been international outcry which will hopefully defer Karzai from signing it.