According to U.N. Women, one in three women around the globe experience gender-based violence. Gender-based violence is an especially serious issue in Afghanistan — a country that ranked 157th out of 162 countries on the U.N.’s Gender Inequality Index. Here are five things to know about gender-based violence in Afghanistan.
5 Facts About Gender-based Violence in Afghanistan
- One of the Highest Rates of Gender-Based Violence in the World. Ranking 170th out of 170 countries on the Women, Peace and Security Index, Afghanistan has a long way to go when it comes to improving women’s safety. According to Concern Worldwide US, 35% of women are victims of domestic violence. Women also face violence at the hands of their government as many women have experienced sexual assault, abduction and arranged marriage under the rule of the Taliban.
- Women Face Violence from the Taliban Regime. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, it began to strip women of their rights. The Taliban forced women to quit their jobs, restricted their access to health care and education, implemented a strict dress code and inhibited them from moving around freely while outdoors.
- Survivors of Gender-Based Violence “have essentially been abandoned.” According to Amnesty International, the Taliban regime closed down shelters and released prisoners, many of which had committed crimes of gender-based violence in December 2021. This left many women who had survived gender-based violence with little protection.
- Young Girls Are the Primary Victims. Many young Afghan girls’ families arrange marriages for them at early ages as they believe it will provide their children with more protection and financial security.
- Poverty Increases the Threat of Gender-Based Violence. Afghanistan is currently undergoing both a humanitarian and an economic crisis. Due to these crises, this year, 11.6 million Afghan women and girls are in need of humanitarian assistance and 97% of the total population risk falling below the poverty line. Research has shown that there is a connection between poverty and gender-based violence as many women living in poverty lack the income and resources to leave violent relationships they may be involved in.
According to U.N. Women, there are potential solutions to combat gender-based violence. For starters, the organization suggests increasing women’s ability to access support resources that will ensure their safety and protection from gender-based violence.
Multiple organizations are currently advocating for greater protections for Afghan women. For example, Women for Afghan Women is a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian assistance to Afghan women and girls in need of support. It also helps Afghan refugees who reside in the United States (U.S.) as they currently have a shelter in Alexandria, Virginia called the Virginia Community Center (VACC) which provides important resources such as mental health and legal services. Another organization working to protect Afghan women and girls is the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund whose mission is to not only protect Afghan women but support their empowerment by assisting female Afghan leaders in civil society.
Several organizations, including Women for Afghan Women and Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, are actively engaged in safeguarding Afghan women from gender-based violence and the oppression of the Taliban regime. With a heightened emphasis on protecting and empowering Afghan women and girls, there is optimism that these efforts will contribute to ending gender-based violence in Afghanistan.
– Nicole Alexander