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Amnesty Raises Warnings on Afghan Women's Rights

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Executive Director for Afghan women's Network (AWN), Hasina Safi, center, raises her hand to ask a question during a press conference by Amnesty International announcing their report on threats to women activists in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Executive Director for Afghan women's Network (AWN), Hasina Safi, center, raises her hand to ask a question during a press conference by Amnesty International announcing their report on threats to women activists in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

A human rights group is urging the Afghan government to protect defenders of women's rights in the country. Amnesty International says the government has done nothing to stop escalating levels of violence, sexual attacks and even plots to kill women's rights activists.

Amnesty International released its report on Afghan women's rights Tuesday in Kabul, the capital. The report says both the government and the international community are turning their backs on Afghan women activists, leaving them vulnerable. It says these activists have bravely fought for the gains Afghanistan has made toward improving human rights conditions.

Researchers say the Taliban are to blame for the majority of attacks against the defenders of women's rights. They note that government officials and powerful local commanders are increasingly linked to violence against women.

The report says those threatened include rights activists, politicians, lawyers, journalists and teachers. It says even women in the police force have faced threats of violence.

Amnesty International's Afghanistan researcher, Horia Mosadiq, spoke with VOA. She says the group spoke with more than 50 defenders of women's rights and their family members. Those questioned said that officials often ignored or refused to take threats against women seriously.

"From the 50 cases that we have investigated, only in one case there was prosecution and investigation. This shows, first, the failure of the Afghan government for not protecting women human rights defenders and, second, the failure of the judiciary and other law enforcement officials for not being able to protect women or to investigate the cases or to bring the perpetrators to justice."

The report says that, since 2001, the international community has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on projects in support of Afghan women's rights. But Amnesty International says more needs to be done. Many women defenders who reported violence or attacks are put in danger and face criticism or threats for speaking out.

Horia Mosadiq says Amnesty International officials have held many meetings with President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other Afghan officials. She says those meetings were designed to bring to their attention the problems facing women's rights activists. She says the officials have yet to take actual steps to end the threats.

Horia Mosadiq says she fears female activists are likely to face increased violence in the months to come. The reasons: plans to withdraw international forces from Afghanistan, increasing Taliban attacks and the rise of the Islamic State in the country.

"These are all unfortunately not good signals for the future of Afghanistan and more particularly for the protection of women human rights defenders. We are quite concerned that if concrete steps are not taken the situation may get worse in the coming months and years."

She says a legal method to protect women in Afghanistan is in place. But she says a failure to carry out and enforce these rules has turned them into empty promises.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

This story came from reporter Ayaz Gul in Islamabad. Marsha James wrote it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

vulnerable – adj. easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally or emotionally

escalate – v. to become worse or to make (something) worse or more severe

concrete – adj. relating to or involving certain individuals, things, or actions, not general ideas or qualities

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