“I seek mercy for the women stoned and their accomplice the darkness of night….Desanka Maksimovic
Dear All – I am sure many of you may have heard about the recent passage of a law in Afghanistan stripping Shia Afghani women of fundamental rights. Under this new law, “…women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husbands’ sex.”
President Karzai has promised to review the law and even possibly repeal it because it violates fundamental human rights. However, the law points to a troubling trend in Afghanistan and with our engagement of Afghanistan. A trend where we decry the violence and inequities women face but do little concretely to ensure a socio-political space for women to safely inhabit.
I am pasting below a letter drafted by Amnesty International that can be sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; it urges for certain steps to be taken to begin to repair the damage done to human rights in Afgahnistan. Below the letter is a link to the Secretary of State’s “Contact Us” Web page and mailing address.
The letter speaks specifically of human rights defenders in Afghanistan being protected. This is very important as it is ensuring that the solutions for women in Afghanistan come from the women of Afghanistan. What we do as international allies is hold open the space for those solutions to be dreamed, debated and implemented rather then creating answers outside of the context.
Join me in letting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton know that we are concerned for the women of Afghanistan and believe that since the U.S. invasion in 2001 we bear a unique responsibility to act. Much Peace Liz
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing to urge you to support the work of Women Human Rights Defenders in Afghanistan and to immediately take effective measures to ensure that they are able to carry out their vital work, without fear of violence and intimidation.
The October 2001 US-led international intervention in Afghanistan was accompanied by a pledge by the Afghan government to protect women’s rights and promote gender equality in Afghanistan. Women human rights defenders play a key role in advancing these concerns, for example, by running safe houses for women at risk, raising awareness on child and forced marriages and providing education programmes and family planning services. Sadly, many come under attack for their work, which is often portrayed mistakenly as challenging the religious and social order in Afghanistan.
In many instances women human rights defenders have faced death threats and kidnapping attempts against themselves and their families, as well as physical attacks, including acid attacks. Tragically some, like the journalist Zakia Zaki in 2007, have been killed for raising their voice, while others have fled the country.
I urge you to support the work of Human Rights Defenders and, in particular, take the following steps to:
- promote and implement the principles in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998), including the right to communicate views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- ensure that Human Rights Defenders are able to discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance of all human rights and draw public attention to these matters without fear of persecution or punishment;
- ensure that Human Rights Defenders benefit from an effective remedy in the event of violation of their rights and are protected by law and in practice;
- promote public awareness of the role and work of Human Rights Defenders;
- promote awareness among police and other officials of the role and work of Women Human Rights Defenders, including by providing appropriate training to police and other state officials;
- establish a national plan for the promotion and protection of human rights, including both civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights, and emphasizing their universality and indivisibility, and the role and work of Human Rights Defenders, in line with commitments enshrined in the Afghanistan Compact.
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520