Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Afghanistan: Head of UN Women condemns intimidation, targeted killings of female Afghan officials

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Photo: UN Women

UN - 16 September 2013 – The head of the United Nations body tasked with promoting women’s rights today condemned the intimidation and targeted killings of female Afghan officials and called for bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The latest victim is the top woman police officer in the southern province of Helmand, 38-year-old Sub-Inspector Negar, who died today of bullet wounds from an insurgent attack that occurred on Sunday. She took up her post in July when her predecessor, Islam Bibi, was shot by unknown gunmen.

“Violence against women in Afghanistan is pervasive and increasing,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women), said in a statement.

“Recent cases of targeted killings point to the urgent need to guarantee women’s and girls’ rights as the Government of Afghanistan prepares for a full takeover from international forces and moves towards provincial and parliamentary elections,” she stated.

“The empowerment of women and realization of their rights,” she added, “are fundamental to the reconstruction of Afghanistan so that women and men can take responsibility for the future development of their country.”

UN Women noted that Afghanistan has witnessed several cases of intimidation, abduction and targeted killings of women government officials and public figures in recent weeks and months.

Earlier this month, Sushmita Banerjee, a writer and activist from India married to an Afghan businessman, was killed outside her home in Paktika province. In August, Friba Kakar, a woman parliamentarian was kidnapped and freed several weeks later in exchange for detained militants, according to the media.

In addition, two consecutive heads of the Department of Women’s Affairs in Laghman province were killed last year. In 2008, gunmen killed Lieutenant-Colonel Malalai Kakar, the country’s most prominent policewoman and head of Kandahar’s department of crimes against women.

“Afghan women’s rights to safety and security have to be ensured, and the survivors of violence supported and perpetrators brought to justice,” stressed Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, who called on the Afghan Government to fast-track the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators in targeted killing cases.