International Development Law Organization

Crucial forensic training supports gender crime investigations in Afghanistan

It was Valentine’s day – a time for celebrating love and friendship for many - but in Kunduz province Afghanistan, a newly-wed pregnant woman lost her baby, reportedly, in a brutal exorcism carried out by a local mullah.

Local media reports say her husband’s family took her for routine treatment for low blood pressure, but the mullah accused her of being possessed and beat her to ‘free the demons’.  She was eight months pregnant. Doctors at the local hospital confirmed she lost the child as a result of physical violence.

Reducing violence against women and girls is a priority area of work for IDLO in Afghanistan. As part of our Supporting Access to Justice in Afghanistan (SAJA) program, we have just held our third training course on forensic medicine in Kabul.

Sixteen lawyers, prosecutors and members of the Directorate of Women’s Affairs – both male and female – took part in the training, presented by an IDLO trainer and a female forensic medicine doctor from Kabul Forensic Medicine Department. The course covered forensic medicine law, issues related to forensic criminal investigations such as murder, rape and beatings, and a visit to an autopsy room to witness the damage to the body of a woman who had suffered beatings.

Participants commended the training as highly effective, especially on sensitive topics in Afghan society, such as virginity testing and rape.

Through the SAJA Program, IDLO aims to increase the effectiveness of Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Units in prosecuting violence against women cases. Knowledge of forensic medicine can enhance the prosecution of these cases and helps prevent the re-victimization of women.