Target: Speaker of the House of the People Mohammad Younis Qanooni
Goal: Don’t deny Afghan women protection from domestic violence
Afghanistan’s lower house, also known as the House of the People or Wolesi Jirga, is currently considering a proposal that would prevent relatives of the defendant from testifying in domestic violence trials. This provision, called the Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual Witness Act, is merely the latest in a long series of attempts by various to weaken women’s rights in Afghanistan. Tell the speaker of the Wolesi Jirga that this law is baseless and hateful, and urge the House not to pass it.
Afghanistan’s current Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAC) criminalizes a variety of offences, including domestic abuse, rape, and the sale of women and girls. It also allows for the annulment of marriages in which domestic violence has occurred. However, all of these cases require eye-witnesses to indict the accused, or else charges will be dropped. In Afghan society, these witnesses most often come from the husband’s family. Thus, the Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual Witness Act would effectively protect domestic abusers from justice, and force many Afghan women into abusive relationships.
Many campaigners for women’s rights in Afghanistan worry that, if this law is passed, it will pave the way for the eventual repeal of the Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women. Certainly, it won’t be the first assault on EVAC in the last few months: Abdul Rohman Hotak, a former Taliban official and outspoken advocate against EVAC, was recently appointed to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and has since used this post to speak out against women’s rights.
The Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual Witness Act is an obvious, grotesque attempt to curb Afghan women’s hard-won legal rights. As such, the Wolsei Jurga has a duty to all Afghan women to make sure that this proposal is not signed into law, and that the assault on women’s rights in Afghanistan is nipped in the bud. We must urge them to take the correct course of action.
Dear Speaker of the Wolsei Jurga Younis Qanooi,
A proposal entitled the Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual Witness Act was recently submitted to the Wolsei Jurga for review. This law would seek to curtail women’s legal rights by preventing family members from testifying in domestic abuses cases. Needless to say, such an act would be a blow to all Afghan women, and slide in the wrong direction for Afghan human rights as a whole.
As this law clearly has no legal basis and is merely a reactionary stance to the hard-won freedom of Afghan women, it should be clear that it must not be let past the Wolsei Jurga. For the sake of women all across Afghanistan, this law must not be passed.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: Daniel Wilkinson via Wikimedia Commons