Posted: March 28th, 2021

Violence against Women in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s country has been ruled by militant groups of the Taliban and women’s rights have been exploited for political gain. Women were allowed to do many things such as the right to vote before civil conflict and Taliban rule before the 1970s. The Taliban ruled in Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001(Dupont, 2004). Their aim was to make Afghanistan an Islamic state and under their rule woman and girls were faced with discrimination and were forced to follow their version of Islamic law. Women were violated, beaten, abused and raped. Although in 2001 they banish from power there are still some that control sections of Afghanistan. In 2009 Afghanistan adopted the elimination of violence against woman law but women are still being abused and have no equality. “Women constitute roughly 49% of Afghanistan’s 23.3 million people.”(Ministry of Women’s Affairs, 2008, para1). In comparison to the Afghanistan men, women are the worst off in the world and their situation is very poor especially in the areas of health data, human rights, protection against violence, education, public participation, and economic productivity. According to (MOVA, 2008), “the average Afghan woman have a lifespan of 44 years which is around 20 years short of the global average.” Woman in Afghanistan die at a younger age than men because of the abuse and harsh suffering that is placed on them. Women in Afghanistan face under age early marriages, forced marriages high fertility rate which contribute to high incidence of maternal mortality. Women are limited to access services and opportunities due to poverty insecurity and harmful traditional practices and abuse by their spouse (MOVA, 2008). Women face many health problems because they have to wait for approval from their spouse and because of their culture they have limits to male doctors. Not only do women have poor quality health but they also have a low literacy rate. Education is a huge concern because they lack the resources, facilities, finance, protection from abuse and girls and women are discouraged from going to school. “The adult literacy rate in Afghanistan is estimated at 36% while the woman, it is estimated at being 21%.”(MOVA, 2008, pg. 3) Boys are more likely to complete primary school and further their education than girls. Men are economically more stable than are women. Women’s productive contributions are underestimated and underpaid and women have limited access to economic resources.

What has already been done?

In 2009 the law on elimination of violence against woman was enacted and this law covers crime of forced marriages, forced self immolation and other acts of violence against woman. Ever since the law was in place there have been incidences of 2,299 cases of violence against women (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights [OHCHR], 2011) and a record of increases in number of cases of self immolation of girls and women in southern and southeastern regions of Afghanistan. Most cases are not investigated by police and some crimes were prosecuted through penal code instead of the elimination law which left perpetrators with lighter charges and women being accused of moral crimes (OHCHR, 2011). Because many women are unaware of the law and protective factors, women are still fleeing from violence and forced marriages. Many of the women run to women shelters that offer temporary safe refuge. The violence against woman presents them from having a voice and limits their ability to do anything in the public. United nation’s assistance in Afghanistan and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights have called on the government to make the law known among people in rural and urban areas and also government of all levels. The United Nations collected information from 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces during a 12 month period to see how well the law is used (OHCHR, 2011). Because of cultural restraints, social norms and religious beliefs, woman face acts of violence. Many of the women are discouraged from seeking help due to fear of their lives. They faced so much discrimination and fear that they don’t want to do anymore to further complicate their lives.

Due to the sufferings and abuse on women’s health, there have been mobile teams available in the community to help women get care for their health. The mobile team includes midwife, vaccinators, community health supervisors and community health workers (Madhok, 2014). Whenever a case is very severe they are referred to main hospitals. UNICEF has provided and funded special care for women and their children and this helps by improving women’s access to medical care.

In 2012 the IASC gender marker was introduced Afghanistan and resulted in significant achievements towards mainstreaming gender. Midyear evaluations were conducted to verify implements of the IASC gender marker (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], 2013, pg. 39). They made visits to different sites in Bamyan, Herat, Nangahar and Kabal. They faced many challenges on recruiting women to provide healthcare for women and girls because of their customary practices and fear they faced against men. Few Afghanistan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) develop strategies to slowly change gender attitudes and Kabal. Through their awareness and building trust with the men, women were allowed permission to receive family planning from male doctors. Many women are not allowed to work or be seen by men so that is why they were restricted from any services. To help address gender issues, gender frameworks were developed to engage communities to work on meeting humanitarian and protection needs of vulnerable groups (OCHA, 2013).

Other things that were done:

  • Governments have involved women in national institutions
  • Woman are recognized in the constitutional Loya Jirga
  • Government mandated the national Solidarity program to ensure women’s participation as actors and beneficiaries in the program
  • Implementation of Bonn Agreement(increases women’s involvement in government)
  • Established the Ministry of women’s affairs (2001)
  • Education awareness on rape and sex assault
  • Provided helpline contacts
  • Develop training packages for domestic homicide
  • Improve commission of services
  • Elimination of Violence against Woman Law (2009)

Partnerships Used to implement awareness:

  • UN action against sexual violence in conflict
  • Inter agency task force for women, peace and security
  • Inter Agency Task Force on Prevention of sexual exploitation
  • NGO, civil society and communities to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls
  • Gender Standby Capacity (GenCap) project Steering Committee
  • Afghanistan Ministry of women’s affairs

(UNICEF, 2012)

What needs to be done?

  • Continuously enforcing the law (punishment for not following rules)
  • Place perpetrators in prison
  • Revise Afghanistan’s legislative framework
  • Implement gender equality
  • Allow more women to contribute in the country
  • Raise awareness of the law all over so that men and women are informed
  • Include organizations that support nonviolence against women and men
  • Provide healthcare to women and children and make accessible in poor areas
  • Increase protection mechanisms in schools to allow girls and women of safer environment for education
  • Protection of women’s rights
  • Integrate gender equality programs and extend women roles /more opportunities
  • Provide surgical help for women
  • Provide nutritional supplies
  • Educate men about integration of women’s roles
  • Educate children about abuse and consequences
  • Provide rehabilitation and coping centers

To measure the outcomes of the plan, the process needs to be evaluated to ensure that all ideas have been implemented. This includes: reviewing of the past abuse rates and comparing them with the new ones to determine whether the plan was beneficial; looking at the healthcare of women and children to determine if proper health care have been given to improve their health; looking at the education rates of women and the level of education accomplished; determining what has been made available to women and what roles they currently hold; looking at attitudes and behaviors of men towards women to determine if there were any significant changes in the household; ensuring prosecution of the perpetrators and an improvement in the judicial system.


Dupont, S.(2004) Women in Afghanistan: The back story. Retrieved from

Ministry of Women’s Affairs (2008) National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan. Retrieved From

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). (2013) Afghanistan Common Humanitarian Action Plan. Retrieved from

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) (2011) A Long way to Go: Implementation of the Elimination of Violence Law. Kabul, Afghanistan Retrieved from

UNICEF (2012) Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action Retrieved from


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