Massoud Hossaini / AP

Amnesty International slams Afghanistan's ‘failure’ to protect women

Rights group raises alarm over rising violence against female leaders and activists as US troops continue to withdraw

Afghanistan is turning its back on women leaders and activists and leaving them vulnerable to violence, Amnesty International said Tuesday, urging the international community to stand up for women's rights.

Women politicians and rights campaigners have endured an escalating number of targeted car bombings, grenade attacks and killings of family members, the London-based rights group said in a report.

“Laws meant to support them are poorly implemented, if at all, while the international community is doing far too little to ease their plight,” the report said.

Most of the threats come from the Taliban and other armed opposition groups, but government officials and local warlords also commit abuses against women leaders and activists, the report added.

The report is based on interviews with more than 50 female leaders and activists and their relatives around the country.

“It's outrageous that Afghan authorities are leaving them to fend for themselves, with their situation more dangerous than ever,” Amnesty chief Salil Shetty told reporters in Kabul.

In December 2014, an audit of U.S.-funded women’s empowerment programs in Afghanistan concluded that the initiatives could not be assessed because agencies involved did not properly track spending or results. However, proponents of the programs pointed to some Afghan women holding government positions and girls’ increased enrollment in schools as signs of the programs’ success.

But with the steady withdrawal of U.S. troops and fragile state institutions left behind, there are increasing concerns that violence against women is on the rise.

"Afghanistan is facing an uncertain future, and is at arguably the most critical moment in its recent history. Now is not the time for international governments to walk away," Shetty said.

Reacting to the scathing report, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said his government was “committed to protecting women's rights.”

Last month a mob in downtown Kabul lynched a 27-year-old woman for allegedly burning a Quran — a charge that has since been disputed.

In February, popular female politician Angiza Shinwari died following a bomb attack on her vehicle in the volatile eastern province of Nangarhar. 

And last year Shukria Barakzai, a prominent female MP and women's rights campaigner, narrowly survived a suicide attack in Kabul.

Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse

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