In a briefing at IDLO’s Headquarters in Rome, Member Parties heard from staff working in Afghanistan about the progress being made there in combatting violence against women. Field staff discussed approaches in Afghanistan that are delivering positive changes, including inter-shelter cooperation, inter-sectoral coordination between shelters and justice actors, and increased awareness of legal rights.
Afghanistan has seen positive changes in the lives of women since the fall of the Taliban regime; awareness of women’s rights, women’s participation in public life, and women’s access to education have increased.
Yet, despite advancements like the Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) 2009, Shelter Regulations 2011, and the establishment and expansion of specialized prosecution units, which have led to an increase in the prosecution of crimes against women, protection of women’s rights and women’s access to justice remain limited.
Few Afghan women resort to state mechanisms within the formal justice system. Often female survivors of violence have little or no recourse to action, as deeply-rooted social norms dissuade women and their families from asserting their rights.
However, despite the challenging operating environment faced, significant achievements have led to a unified approach to improving the quality of legal and protective services for women victims of violence.
IDLO is working with civil society organizations, the international community and the government in Afghanistan to strengthen access to justice, uphold human rights and expand legal capacity to tackle violence against women.
IDLO’s work in the area of gender justice in Afghanistan includes
There are 27 protections centers in Afghanistan. IDLO has worked to strengthen the relationships and coordination between many of these, by facilitating the creation of the Afghan Shelter Network. This network has proved to be a vital mechanism for sharing information effectively, building trust and tackling shared issues.
Shelters and EVAW units, strengthening services through inter-sectoral coordination
Women’s shelters and specialized prosecution units, otherwise known as Women’s Protection Centers and EVAW units respectively, play a critical role in the provision of essential legal, medical, psycho-social and protective services to women victims of violence. Crucially, these services provide women with the means to access justice through civil and criminal law, thereby providing protection from violence and access to essential legal remedies.
IDLO and its local partners work to increase synergies between shelters, EVAW units and the justice sector. Strengthened relationships lead to increased support for legal aid providers, and can help bring about fairer justice outcomes for women.
Awareness of Legal Rights
Awareness of legal rights is also critical to the rule of law. IDLO supports the Ministry of Justice in increasing public legal awareness to empower women to access their rights.
As part of this work IDLO has developed, with partners, a radio program called “Your Rights, Your Life’ to share information on citizen’s rights and engage listeners in discussions on tackling violence against women, accessing legal aid, and illustrating the rights and responsibilities of citizens.