Friday, February 18, 2011


It is about women's shelters in Afghanistan. Some background:
The government of Afghanistan has recently introduced a bill that wrests control of women's shelters in Afghanistan from the local Afghan women's NGOs that have founded and run them, and transfers that control to the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA). This bill could become the law of the land ANY DAY NOW.

If this bill becomes law:

Women and girls seeking shelter will be required to plead their case before an eight-member Government panel, including conservative members of the Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice. This panel will determine whether a woman needs to be in a shelter or should be sent to jail or returned to her home (and her abuser).

Women will have to undergo "forensic" exams (virginity tests) to determine whether they have had sex and therefore committed adultery. The tests are medically invalid.
Once admitted to a shelter, women will be forbidden to leave. Their shelter will become their prison.

There is no discussion in the bill of women's human rights, of the horrific abuse that most women in shelters have suffered and fled.  The bill discusses shelter food but not how women's rights will be protected and justice achieved.
And perhaps worst of all, if any family member comes to claim her, even her abuser, she will be handed over to that person, in most cases to be subjected to the harshest retribution for shaming the family.
The bill is the culmination of a long, intense campaign by enemies of women's rights in the Afghan government to close women's shelters on the basis of false, unsupported claims:  shelters are unIslamic, corrupt, and agents of immoral activity.