Rights & Democracy joins the UN in calling for action on widespread violence against women in Afghanistan

KABUL – December 2, 2009 – Rights & Democracy joins the United Nations in calling on all Afghans to take part in a 16-day campaign to end violence against women and girls, which it described as a “widespread and deeply rooted” problem in the country. The international campaign against gender violence runs until International Human Rights Day next Thursday, Dec. 10.

A UN report issued earlier this year detailed the extent to which violence is a fact of life for many women and girls in Afghanistan. The study found that rape is widespread and yet under-reported if not concealed across Afghanistan. This reality is exacerbated by a “socio-political context” that seldom challenges or condemns such violence.

Through its Kabul office, Rights & Democracy is working with Afghan civil society to ensure legal reforms currently underway in the country protect the rights of all Afghan women and girls and respect the tenets of gender equality enshrined in Afghanistan’s Constitution. Rights & Democracy’s efforts are focused primarily on the reform of family law through the four-year “Rights in Practice” project (www.dd-rd.af) launched in 2007.

“No real peace and national development are possible without the elimination of violence against women,” said Zia Moballegh, acting country director for Rights & Democracy’s office in Kabul. “Elimination of violence against women will not be possible without a national will and also the determination of men,” he added. For more information on the international campaign to eliminate violence against women, please visit the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (www.cwgl.rutgers.edu/16days/about.html)

For more information on Rights & Democracy’s work in Afghanistan, please contact Steve Smith at 514-898-4157 or Marie-Helene Bachand at 514-442-1565.