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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Women in Afghanistan often jailed for "moral crimes"




   Even though the Taliban government in Afghanistan fell more than ten
years ago, the justice system is still discriminatory in its treatment
of women as is the legal system.
Al Jazeera reporter, Jennifer Glasse reports from Herat at a women's jail. Many in Afghan
jails are in jail for fleeing domestic abuse or violence. Even rape
victims are jailed for what are called "moral crimes" as the appended
video shows, Afghanistan is unique even among those countries which base
 their judicial system on Sharia law in that Afghanistan is the only
jurisdiction which claims there is a crime of fleeing. Heather Barr,
 Afghan Researcher, at Human Rights Watch said: "Afghanistan is the only
 Islamic government in the world that specifically criminalised running
away." There is no mention of the offense in Afghan law. The problem of
running away could be solved if Afghanistan had more women's shelters
and other programs.


A report issued
 by Human Rights Watch last year, claims that hundreds of women and
girls are imprisoned for the moral crimes of running away from home, and
 sex outside of marriage.The report had called for an estimated 400
women to be freed so that the Afghan government would fulfill its
obligations under international human rights law.


Kenneth Roth,
 executive director of Human Rights Watch said:"It is shocking that 10
years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still
imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage."
  Actually, it is not that surprising. Many of the former warlords whom
the west helped triumph over the Taliban were just as violent against
women if not worse than the Taliban. Also, there are so-called reformed
Taliban in the government. They probably hold the same views about women
 as unreformed Taliban but support the government.


The criminalisation of "running away" results from a certain latitude given judges under article 130 of the Afghan constitution:
 "When there is no provision in the Constitution or other laws regarding
 ruling on an issue, the courts’ decisions shall be within the limits of
 this Constitution in accord with the Hanafi jurisprudence and in a way
to serve justice in the best possible manner."


Afghan judges and prosecutors say that this allows judges to
interpret Islamic law and justifies their ruling on fleeing. Heather
Barr says that the judges and prosecutors are ignoring the limits of the
 section in that the interpretations should be consistent with other
provisions of the constitution and lead to a just outcome. Heather Barr
thinks that the decisions violate article 130 of the constitution which
says: "No person can be punished but in accordance with the decision of
an authorised court and in conformity with the law adopted before the
date of offense". Some local Afghan rights workers were critical of the
report for not examining the laws more carefully upon which distinctions
 are made and not interviewing women who have run away and are actually
in shelters to determine the different circumstances that determine
legal outcomes.


Ahraf Nemat, an Afghan human rights campaigner, said that the Human
Rights Watch report would be taken as a general statement of impunity
for the 400 or so women imprisoned. Nemat said that it is equally
important that women who commit crimes should face justice.




   Even though the Taliban government in Afghanistan fell more than ten years ago, the justice system is still discriminatory in its treatment of women as is the legal system.
Al Jazeera reporter, Jennifer Glasse reports from Herat at a women's jail. Many in Afghan jails are in jail for fleeing domestic abuse or violence. Even rape victims are jailed for what are called "moral crimes" as the appended video shows, Afghanistan is unique even among those countries which base their judicial system on Sharia law in that Afghanistan is the only jurisdiction which claims there is a crime of fleeing. Heather Barr, Afghan Researcher, at Human Rights Watch said: "Afghanistan is the only Islamic government in the world that specifically criminalised running away." There is no mention of the offense in Afghan law. The problem of running away could be solved if Afghanistan had more women's shelters and other programs.
A report issued by Human Rights Watch last year, claims that hundreds of women and girls are imprisoned for the moral crimes of running away from home, and sex outside of marriage.The report had called for an estimated 400 women to be freed so that the Afghan government would fulfill its obligations under international human rights law.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch said:"It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage." Actually, it is not that surprising. Many of the former warlords whom the west helped triumph over the Taliban were just as violent against women if not worse than the Taliban. Also, there are so-called reformed Taliban in the government. They probably hold the same views about women as unreformed Taliban but support the government.
The criminalisation of "running away" results from a certain latitude given judges under article 130 of the Afghan constitution: "When there is no provision in the Constitution or other laws regarding ruling on an issue, the courts’ decisions shall be within the limits of this Constitution in accord with the Hanafi jurisprudence and in a way to serve justice in the best possible manner."
Afghan judges and prosecutors say that this allows judges to interpret Islamic law and justifies their ruling on fleeing. Heather Barr says that the judges and prosecutors are ignoring the limits of the section in that the interpretations should be consistent with other provisions of the constitution and lead to a just outcome. Heather Barr thinks that the decisions violate article 130 of the constitution which says: "No person can be punished but in accordance with the decision of an authorised court and in conformity with the law adopted before the date of offense". Some local Afghan rights workers were critical of the report for not examining the laws more carefully upon which distinctions are made and not interviewing women who have run away and are actually in shelters to determine the different circumstances that determine legal outcomes.
Ahraf Nemat, an Afghan human rights campaigner, said that the Human Rights Watch report would be taken as a general statement of impunity for the 400 or so women imprisoned. Nemat said that it is equally important that women who commit crimes should face justice.
- See more at: http://digitaljournal.com/article/344667#sthash.A60Fj9Pe.dpuf

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