In Afghanistan, Violence Against Women Persists

Home > Learn More > Stories & News > In Afghanistan, Violence Against Women Persists

Posted on 1/16/2014

Families living in poverty in Afghanistan face many hardships. From lack of access to electricity to food scarcity, as well as political instability, life in Afghanistan is challenging. ChildFund has worked in the country since 2001, and much of our work is geared toward assisting girls and young women in Afghanistan in achieving educations and becoming empowered, independent adults. But Afghanistan is a difficult place to reach such gender equality goals. According to a recent survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Afghanistan is the world's most dangerous country for women, with gender discrimination and gender-based violence frequently occurring.

Daily Dangers: Gender-Based Violence

There are many different types of abuse. In a poll of experts, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that Afghanistan is the world's most dangerous country for women; rates of non-sexual assault and domestic abuse are significantly higher in Afghanistan than in any other country. Other persistent risk factors, such as economic inequality, forced marriage and lack of access to health care, also remain high for women in Afghanistan. Overall, disparities in access to health care remains the most urgent health-related problem in the country, followed by maternal mortality, lack of control over reproductive health and domestic abuse.

Even more troubling is the fact that cases of violence against Afghan women appear to be on the rise. Reported cases of forced marriage, domestic violence and sexual violence increased by 28 percent in 16 Afghan provinces since last year, but indictments occurred only 2 percent more frequently during the same time period.

According to some experts, problems with enforcing laws against such gender-based violence remain among the most serious issues in Afghanistan today.

"Implementation has been slow and uneven, with police still reluctant to enforce the legal prohibition against violence and harmful practices, and prosecutors and courts slow to enforce the legal protections in the law," says Navi Pillay, the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights.

Against Their Will: Domestic Abuse of Afghanistan Women

Abuses such as forced marriages do more than rob girls of their childhoods; they also perpetuate the cycle of generational poverty and make it difficult for girls to lead fulfilling lives. When girls are forced into marriage, they are often denied the chance to complete school. This was the case for Nazifa, a girl who was promised to an elderly man in a forced marriage when she was just 12 years old.

Just two weeks after Nazifa was married, her 72-year-old husband began to abuse her. She was forced to drop out of school. ChildFund learned of Nazifa's plight through our Social Work Coaching project in Takhar province, an initiative that trains volunteers to become children's rights advocates in partnership with UNICEF. Since appealing her spousal abuse case at the district governor's office, Nazifa has once again resumed her studies at school and is free from her marriage.

Nazifa's case is far from unique, and if recent data is any indication, many more women and young girls need assistance in overcoming these challenges. ChildFund works in some of Afghanistan's poorest provinces to provide women and girls with the support they need, but we could not help as many women without your support. One of the best ways you can help girls and young women in Afghanistan is by becoming a monthly giving partner. Your generosity will allow us to provide assistance where the need is greatest. Just 50 cents per day could make a lifetime's difference in the life of a girl in Afghanistan.