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Meet the bravest women in the world: Those who fight the Taliban every single day.

Women on bus Mazar-e sharif, Afghanistan. Despite the fact that formal legal restrictions have been lifted by the Afghan Transitional Administration, most women and girls do not feel secure to move outside the home. Those who do face harassment in public places, affecting their access to education, health facilities, jobs and leisure.
Women on bus Mazar-e sharif, Afghanistan. Despite the fact that formal legal restrictions have been lifted by the Afghan Transitional Administration, most women and girls do not feel secure to move outside the home. Those who do face harassment in public places, affecting their access to education, health facilities, jobs and leisure.

 

By AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Women are at the frontline in protecting women’s human rights in Afghanistan. They are teachers, doctors, journalists, activists and politicians. Many have been killed or threatened because of their work to protect women’s rights, while some have fled the country. They face intimidation and attacks; some are threatened by their families for daring to speak out. The Taliban see their work as defying culture, religion and accepted role of women in society.

As Australian troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2013 the question must be asked, what will happen to the women? Amnesty International spoke to four brave and committed women – some who have paid a high price for their bravery – about the risks they face in championing the rights of women and girls. Here is the first of their stories. For security reasons, names* have been changed.

Dr D.*

Dr. D. works as a gynaecologist providing healthcare to women suffering from abuse, including rape and domestic violence.  She spoke Amnesty International how her family was targeted by the Taliban as a result of her work. 

The problems started back in 2007 when I was living in Kunar province. I was working in a clinic frequently carrying out abortions on girls who had fallen pregnant after being raped by their male relatives.

There were different kinds of cases, for example, girls pregnant by their uncles, others by their brother-in-laws. They came to my clinic because they had to have an abortion or they would have been killed by their relatives or members or their community as an “honour” killing.

Afghan women's rights activists demonstrate against the controversial law for Afghanistan which regulates the personal affairs of  minority Shia community, 15 April 2009.  The law included discriminatory provisions, including restrictions on women's freedom of movement.  The law has since been revised. Image from Pajhwok Afghan News
Afghan women’s rights activists demonstrate against the controversial law for Afghanistan which regulates the personal affairs of minority Shia community, 15 April 2009. The law included discriminatory provisions, including restrictions on women’s freedom of movement. The law has since been revised. Image from Pajhwok Afghan News
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I would receive threatening night letters and phone calls from the Taliban, warning that they would kill me and my family because of my work.

Two years later, in March 2009, it was evening and I heard an explosion and rushed outside. My children had been playing in the front yard.

My 11-year-old son was very badly wounded and lying on the ground. I was shocked and don’t remember what happened next.

My son had to have medical treatment for almost a year and we were busy moving him from hospital to hospital. The incident badly affected him.

He became mentally ill. He is always tired and depressed and always asks why this happened to him.

Six months later, my 22-year old brother was also killed in a grenade attack in front of our house. They threw a grenade at him while he was walking to our home. We have suffered a lot in our life.

We reported the threats to the government, but nobody listened to us and we have felt very discouraged. They have done nothing so far. I tried to seek justice and asked the government agencies to find the perpetrators, but they ignored us and did nothing.

In 2009, we moved from Kunar after my son was wounded in the grenade attack. Now I have stopped doing abortions and keep a low profile at work. Nobody knows my address. If they know my whereabouts they will start threatening me again.

The situation here is very bad for women.  Women have problems going out to work and girls are prevented from going to school. There are too many cases of violence against women. I have witnessed 30 to 50 cases in a month.

When I tell the women to report their case to the police they refuse because their family would be ashamed of them and would treat them very badly. They don’t go to the police and they tolerate the violence and harassment.

We have to help our people, particularly women, they need us and we have to serve the country and the people. I can’t sit at home and doing nothing, this is not in my nature.

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people campaigning to protect human rights. This year Amnesty International is campaigning both in Australia and globally to ensure women and girls in Afghanistan are protected, enjoy their full set of human rights, and are empowered and supported in leading changes in their lives. You can support the women of Afghanistan by signing our petition or follow us at www.facebook.com/amestyoz or on twitter @amnestyOz.

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