CISDA's Statement on New Law of Afghan Govt for Shelters

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Afghan Government Cracks Down on Women’s Shelters

The Italian women’s organization, CISDA – Coordinamento Italiano Sostegno Donne Afghane - denounces the draft regulation promoted by the Council of Ministers in January 2011, whose adoption allows the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) to take over the management of the existing shelters for women within 45 days, almost all of which are operated by Afghan non-governmental organizations.



The regulation comes after an early decision of the Afghan Supreme Court - the most obscurantist legislative body - according to which, seeking refuge in the shelters run by NGOs is considered a crime which abused women and girls can be prosecuted for. The Afghan Supreme Court had already limited women’s freedom of appeal to the juridical bodies.

Adoption of the regulation would result in the closure of some shelters and restrictions on women's freedom: under the proposal, women seeking shelter would have to face monthly forensic examinations to monitor their sexual activity, practice and study Islam, and they will have to be accompanied to the shelters by a mahram (the husband or a male relative). The government has justified its move to take over shelters partly on the grounds that the Women’s Affairs Ministry has the budget, the staff and the expertise to take on the running of the women’s centers and can therefore offer sustainable long-term funding.

However, we see the effort as yet another sign of a conservative resurgence in the country as discussions about peace deals with the Taliban grow louder. For years opponents of women’s rights in Afghanistan have accused the shelters of promoting prostitution and now the government has found the way to take the shelters under its control.

The regulation will have dramatic consequences for all women subjected to violence:

Karzai’s government - supported by US and NATO military occupation - has always been known for violating human rights:

And what’s the role of Italy? Between 2001 and 2011, the Italian government has invested hundreds of millions of euros in the reconstruction of the Afghan juridical system. We ask the Italian government and its political representatives, who have supported and are still funding the military intervention in Afghanistan, to show us how these monies have been allocated for the project of the reformation of the Afghan juridical system, since during the last years a growing number of laws against human rights and women’s freedom have been passed.