This week at Amnesty International we have been celebrating the rejection by Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, of a proposed law which would have prevented the effective investigation and prosecution of gender based violence. As I was jubilantly sharing news reports and speaking to my colleagues about this ‘win’ I started thinking, what sort of world are we living in where this law is even conceivable?
The draft Criminal Procedure Code was passed by the Afghan parliament in January 2014. This code prohibited relatives of the accused from testifying in criminal cases, including violence against women cases. In a country where most violence against women and girls occurs within the home, how can justice be achieved when the witnesses are silenced?
A Global Rights survey estimated that 87% of women in Afghanistan experience at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage, and an estimated 62% experienced multiple forms of violence.
Women’s and human rights groups in Afghanistan have been advocating since last year for the law not to be signed. Their calls were echoed around the world, including by the thousands of Amnesty International supporters in Australia who emailed President Karzai and the Minister of Justice Ghalib. Thankfully, on Monday, our calls were recognised.