|Challenges: Afghan women have won back some basic human rights since the fall of the Taliban, but there is still a ‘long way to go’, activists say|
A teenage girl was beheaded by a relative in northern Afghanistan after she turned down his marriage proposals, according to reports. The victim, named as Gisa, was decapitated with a knife in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province on Tuesday, local police said. She is believed to be around 15-years-old.
A police spokesman said two men, named as Sadeq and Massoud, had been arrested following the teenage girl’s murder.
The two men are understood to be close relatives of the victim that live in the same village. Local police sources have said the men behind the attack wanted to marry the girl, but their advances had been turned down by victim’s father. Gisa is understood to have been attacked as she returned to her home in Kulkul village after going out to collect water from a nearby well. Her father told a local news agency he had not wanted his daughter to get married because she was too young.
Afghanistan’s Taliban regime – notorious for its oppression of women in the country – was ousted in 2001, but extreme violence against women is still rife. In 2009, the Elimination of Violence Against Woman law was introduced in Afghanistan, criminalising child marriage, forced marriage, ‘giving away’ a girl or woman to settle a dispute, among other acts of violence against the female population of the ultra-conservative Islamic nation.
But the UN has said there is a ‘long way to go’ before the rights of Afghan women are fully protected. Comprehensive official statistics on the number of incidents of violence against women in the country are difficult to establish, with the majority of cases going unreported.
However, in the year to March 2011, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission registered over 2,000 acts of violence against women.
The NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force has given high priority to re-establishing women’s rights that were eradicated under the Taliban as part of its efforts to create a security strategy for Afghanistan.
But with the deadline for international troops to pull out of the country – scheduled for the end of 2014 – looming, activists have warned that the outlook for the female population remains bleak. Human Rights Watch has said women’s rights are increasingly at risk in the run up to the scheduled draw-down of NATO forces, with early and forced marriage, impunity for violence against women and lack of access of justice among the long list of challenges they still face.