Statement by Michelle Bachelet Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, 13 July 2012.
In recent weeks, the Afghan nation has witnessed cases of extreme abuse and appalling violence against women. The torture and rape of a young woman, Lal Bibi, by Afghan Local Police (ALP) and the public execution of a young woman, Najiba, has sparked national and international outrage. These cases have once again focused attention on the continuing and urgent need to protect women’s and girls’ rights as the world redefines its role in Afghanistan, and as the Government of Afghanistan moves forward in transition.
Such brutality is intolerable and UN Women calls upon the Afghan government to act with urgency to respond to these crimes, bringing the perpetrators to justice, and to end a culture of impunity and create a culture of zero tolerance of violence and discrimination against women and girls.
With increased cases of violence against women being reported by Afghanistan’s independent Human Rights Commission, and as the International Security Force draws down, it is vital that the important gains made for and with women over the past decade are advanced and sustained and women are fully engaged in charting the future of Afghanistan.
If Afghan women and girls continue to be ignored within the major decision-making processes affecting their country, the vision of a more secure, prosperous and stable Afghanistan cannot be realized.
Last Sunday the international community pledged $16 billion in funding for Afghanistan at the donor conference in Tokyo. By devoting a significant portion of these funds to justice and full participation for Afghan girls and women, Afghanistan will stand a better chance of achieving peace and democracy. It is essential that the Government of Afghanistan and international community stand by commitments made in Tokyo. This includes commitments to improve access to justice for all, in particular women, by ensuring the Constitution and other fundamental laws are “enforced expeditiously, fairly and transparently” and to ensure the implementation of the Ending Violence against Women Law, including “through services to victims as well as law enforcement”.
To ensure progress for Afghanistan, we must act in solidarity to prioritise women’s rights, equality and accountability, and in ending impunity for violence against women and girls. UN Women remains committed to working with the Government and people of Afghanistan to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality.
In New York: Mandy Kibel, +1 646.781.4522; mandy.kibel[at]unwomen.org