U.N. Report Calls for Stricter Laws on Rape in Afghanistan
Monday, July 27, 2009 10:41 AM

On July 8, 2009 the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report entitled Silence is Violence in Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.N. report says rape victims are not protected under Afghan law and communities should no longer use traditional methods of justice which criminalize the victims. “There is a dramatic and urgent need for the government of Afghanistan and society to question attitudes to rape, the larger problem of violence against women, and their complicity in a crime that destroys the life of numerous victims,” the report stated.


The report summary explains that rape is an everyday occurrence which is often concealed and under-reported in Afghanistan. For example, in northern Afghanistan over a third of cases studied revealed that rapists were directly connected to local leaders who are shielded from arrest. The report found that perpetrators are often family members, men working in prisons or orphanages, and men who hold positions of power in state institutions, armed groups, and gangs.


The rape victim, not the perpetrator, often bears the shame of the crime, the report continued. Traditional forms of justice in these communities make the victim the criminal. Families use traditional and religious methods called “baad” and “zina” to protect their honor and either force the victim to marry the rapist or prosecute her for having sex outside of marriage.


The report calls for the Afghani government to immediately reform their penal code, which does not overtly address rape or define it. "There is an urgent need to criminalize rape in Afgahn laws," says Norah Niland, the OHCHR representative in Afghanistan. The report also recommends that traditional community meetings not be used to deal with rape cases because they do not value the rights of women and often result in baad or zina.


To download the report, click here. (PDF, 39 pages)



Compiled from: Rape a “Huge Problem” in Afghanistan, U.N. Says, Reuters Alertnet (8 July 2009); Afghanistan: Call for Tougher Laws on Rape, IRIN News (8 July 2009).