Ten years after American invasion in Afghanistan, primarily to improve the status of women, very little improvement is reported, according to an international charity organisation.
According to a scorecard released by Amnesty International assessing, Afghanistan continues to be of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.
One of the justifications for the 2001 military intervention was to improve women’s rights, which under the Taleban had been dire.
While new laws that give equal legal status to men and women and also set aside a quota of a quarter of parliamentary seats for women are signs of progress, violence against women continues.
“It’s vital we don’t sell out women’s rights in expedient peace deals. The peace process in Afghanistan shouldn’t mean putting a price on women’s rights. These are non-negotiable. The Taleban has an appalling human rights record, and all negotiation for reconciliation must include genuine representation for Afghan women,” says the international organisation’s New Zealand spokesperson, Chris Kerr.
Amnesty International says the Afghan government and its international supporters have failed to keep many of the promises they made to the people of Afghanistan.
“Human rights gains have been put at risk by corruption, mismanagement and attacks by insurgent groups who have shown systematic contempt for human rights and the laws of war,” says Mr Kerr.
The scorecard has found that progress on justice and policing, human security and displacement has stagnated or even regressed.
The 70-member “High Peace Council” body established to negotiate with the Taleban has only nine women members and Afghan women’s groups have expressed their fear that their modest gains will be traded away in exchange for a ceasefire.
On the positive side, access to education has significantly improved in the absence of the restrictions imposed by the Taleban. There are now 7 million children attending school, of whom 37 per cent are girls.
However, in the nine months leading up to December 2010 at least 74 schools in Afghanistan were destroyed or closed as a result of insurgent violence including rocket attacks, bombings, arson, and threats.
In the last decade increasing numbers of Afghan civilians have been injured during armed conflict.
The UN documented 1,462 civilian deaths in the first six months of 2011, another record high. About 80 per cent of these deaths were attributed to “Anti-Government Elements”, with IEDs and suicide attacks, accounting for almost half of all civilian deaths and injuries.
The conflict has left nearly 450,000 internally displaced people in Afghanistan, mainly situated in Kabul and Balkh provinces and often living in extremely poor conditions with limited access to food, adequate sanitation or safe drinking water.
“The Afghan government’s international allies, including the US, have repeatedly said that they will not abandon the Afghan people. They must stand by this commitment to ensure that rights are not swept aside as the international community seeks an exit,” says Kerr.
The ten year anniversary of the military intervention into Afghanistan comes on the back of NATO’s decision to suspend transferring detainees to Afghan forces when a leaked UN report confirmed the existence of systematic torture at some government-run detention centres.
Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation into New Zealand’s complicity in torture in Afghanistan and has called for the release of the findings of an internal report commissioned by New Zealand’s Minister of Defence, Dr Wayne Mapp, in August 2010.
Many Indian citizens who work in Afghanistan, mostly on developmental projects, have been targetted in terror attacks by the Taleban. Nearly 200 Indian security staff is deployed to protect the Indian embassy that has been targeted twice since 2008. On 26 February 2010, two hotels in Kabul housing Indians working on developmental and reconstruction projects were targeted by terrorists.