State responsibility of Afghanistan towards the elimination of violence against women: a human rights law perspective
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 09:33 authored by Sebghatullah Qazi Zada
Afghanistan was among the lowest ranking countries worldwide in the United Nations Development Programme 2018 Gender Inequality Index, ranking 168 out of 189. Amnesty International, Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission have all reported a rise in gender-based violence against women by both State and non-State factors, including honour killings, acid attacks and beatings. This is despite violence against women continuing to be under-reported because of stigmatisation, religious and traditional cultural practices and misconceptions, fear of retribution and punishment for victims and the State 's failure to prevent violence or to investigate, prosecute and punish offenders. This research aims to critically analyse (a) Afghanistan's responsibility towards the elimination of violence against women and (b) the role of sharia and customary laws in condoning violence against women. It identifies the dismal shape of the current regulatory, institutional and policy frameworks concerning the elimination of violence against women in Afghanistan. This situation has been aggravated by the parliamentary rejection of the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women, which is currently at the discretion of presidential decree and is widely considered unconstitutional. Frameworks for the protection of women are still not in place, and Afghanistan's three overlapping systems -sharia law, shura (traditional law and practice) and the legal system implemented under the 2004 Afghanistan Constitution - are perplexing. Afghanistan is party to several international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, under which the State is obligated to eradicate all types of discrimination, violence and other potential detrimental practices against women. Moreover, under the due diligence standard, States are urged to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women. This research concludes that Afghanistan has failed to protect women, potentially leading to a breach of its obligations under international law and recommends for legislative, institutional and policy reforms necessary to protect women against violence in Afghanistan.