As of: December 6th, 2021 4:13 a.m.
For almost 20 years, women’s shelters in Afghanistan have been a haven for thousands of girls and women who wanted to escape violence. According to a report by Amnesty International, little of it remained.
In Afghanistan it has become almost impossible for female victims of violence to get help since the militant Islamist Taliban came to power, according to Amnesty International (AI). Support networks for survivors of intimate partner violence or places of refuge such as women’s shelters have all but disappeared, according to a report published by the human rights organization.
The Taliban took over military power in Afghanistan in mid-August. Since then, the Islamists have noticeably restricted women’s rights. According to the AI report, they also closed women’s shelters and released prisoners from prisons, many of whom were convicted of gender-based violence. Former residents of women’s shelters as well as employees of protection facilities as well as lawyers, judges or government officials involved in the protection services are now in danger.
Amnesty calls for the emergency shelters to be reopened
The women’s shelters had to send women and girls back to their families, other victims were forcibly removed by their family members, the report said. Others have since ended up on the street. AI had also received credible reports that the Taliban had taken affected women to prisons.
AI General Secretary Agnès Callamard called on the Taliban to allow and support the reopening of emergency shelters. The international community should also finance such protection services immediately and in the long term. In Afghanistan, according to the UN, nine out of ten women experience at least some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Before the Taliban came to power, thousands of women turned to a nationwide network of women’s shelters and service providers who supported them with legal advice, lawyers, medical or psychosocial help.
Ministry of Women dissolved
An Afghan woman nine months pregnant told Al that her husband had picked up everything he could find and hit her with it. “Whenever he hit me, his family would meet and watch. It happened almost every day.” According to AI, the woman was looking for a safe place to live. There used to be a women’s shelter, but she was told it was closed and that no new cases were being accepted.
Benafscha Efaf from the Afghan women’s rights organization Women for Afghan Women (WAW) told the German Press Agency that there had also been a lot of headwind from the previous government. “But at least back then we had the support of the Ministry of Women and many elders. Those were relationships that we had built up over the years.” WAW is one of six organizations that run women’s shelters in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Women has now been dissolved by the Taliban, and the women’s shelters have been closed by the WAW itself.