Attack on Afghan female politician highlights growing risk to women
The shooting of a female Afghan politician on Monday demonstrates the fragility of the modest gains made by Afghan women after the fall of the Taleban, Amnesty International said on Thursday. Nida Khyani, a female Provincial Council member, was left in critical condition after being attacked in a drive-by shooting in Pul-e-Khumri, the provincial capital of Baghlan in northern Afghanistan. "Nida Khyani is yet another casualty of the systematic violent targeting of women in public life in Afghanistan," said Sam Zarifi, Director of Amnesty International's Asia Pacific programme."The Afghan government and the international troops supporting it have failed to adequately protect women working in public office and as human rights defenders," said Sam Zarifi. "The ability of Afghan women to be active outside their homes should be a key benchmark for the effectiveness of the Afghan government and NATO troops, and in this regard, the record is quite poor." To date, no group has assumed responsibility for the attack.Afghan women with public roles have faced increasing attacks over the past two years, particularly in areas under the control of the Taleban. Last month, a female member of the national Afghan Parliament, Fawzia Kofi, was injured by gunfire, again attacked by unknown gunmen while traveling from Jalalabad to Kabul. In April last year, Sitara Achekzai, a member of the Kandahar provincial council, lawmaker, was killed in Kandahar. Amnesty International has received numerous further reports of attacks, threats and harassment against women human rights defenders and female politicians in Afghanistan."President Karzai's government as well as US and other NATO forces should investigate attacks on women activists as a matter of urgency, to send a signal that they are committed to protecting and promoting the rights of Afghan women," Zarifi said.The UN Declaration of Elimination of Violence Against Women calls on states to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and in accordance with national legislation punish acts of violence against women, regardless of who the perpetrators are.