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Mar-10-2013 19:58printcomments

Situation of Afghan Women Improving, Official Says

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Afghanistan has reported that Afghan women continue to suffer from the effects of the Taliban- led violence and armed conflicts.

Women in Kabul, winter 2006
Women in Kabul, winter 2006.
Photo by Tim King

(KABUL Xinhua) - Although the situation of women in the post-Taliban Afghanistan has been improving, it still has a long way to go in gender equality and empowering women in society, according to Public Health Minister Suraya Dalil. "The Afghan women situation is improving over the last decade. The reduction in maternal mortality rate in a society is a sign of the advancement of a society and Afghanistan has already made significant improvement in reducing birth-related deaths among mothers," Dalil told Xinhua in an interview.

Dalil made the remarks as Afghanistan and other countries in the world marked the International Women's Day on Friday.

Dalil, a doctor, said despite progress in checking maternal and child mortality over the past 10 years, the number of women dying of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications still remains high. "Regrettably, one woman still dies from pregnancy related causes every two hours in Afghanistan," Dalil said.

She said that maternal mortality ratio is 327 deaths per 100, 000 live births while the ratio was 1,600 maternal deaths per 100, 000 live births 10 years ago.

According to Dalil, the government is committed to helping Afghan women enjoy their rights as mandated in the constitution so that they can become responsible members of society. "More steps will be taken to protect women's health and well- being," she said.

The International Women's Day in Afghanistan is marked by holding conferences, seminars and forums by government and non- government bodies in capital Kabul and other cities.

In post-Taliban Afghanistan, there are three women ministers in cabinet and 69 women in Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of Parliament.

However, majority of Afghan women who live in rural areas where the rate of literacy is lower, do not appreciate the significance of the International Women's Day.

Afghans are marking the International Women's Day amid widespread human rights violations, including forced marriage, under-aged marriage and honor killing.

Nazifa Zaki echoed Dalil's observation, saying that Afghan women are now active in social, cultural and political activities in the country. "Afghan women now work in government and non-government institutions, something unheard of during the reign of the Taliban, " Zaki said.

Zaki admitted, however, that domestic violence against women are still prevalent, particularly in the rural areas due to tribal customs and male-dominance in the communities where they live. "Domestic violence is alarming. Majority of the people in rural areas still have no awareness of women's empowerment or gender equality," Zaki, a former army general, noted.

In efforts to protect the rights of women, the Afghan government enacted in 2009 the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law which criminalizes, among others, child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women on the pretext of marriage, giving the hand of a woman or girl to settle a dispute between two sides, forced self- immolation in addition to rape and beating.

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Afghanistan has reported that Afghan women continue to suffer from the effects of the Taliban- led violence and armed conflicts.

A total of 2,754 civilians were killed and 4,805 injured in conflict-related violence in 2012, a 12 percent drop in overall civilian casualties compared with 2011, according to a report released by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Feb. 19 this year.

Out of total victims of Taliban-led attacks last year, 864 were women, with 301 deaths and 563 injured.

According to Georgette Gagnon, director of Human Rights for UNAMA, it is a tragic reality that most Afghan women and girls were killed or injured while engaging in their everyday activities.

Source: Xinhua



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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.