Afghan Women’s Network, which is the foundation for Afghan women’s movement,has pledged to the president of Afghanistan to amend the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, which was passed by the Wolesi Jirga on 9 November 2016.
1. We, Medica Afghanistan, write on behalf of the Afghanistan Women’s Network (AWN). As you are aware, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law was passed by the Wolesi Jirga on 9 November 2016.
2. We thank the Parliament and everyone who participated in the drafting of the law, for passing such an important law. We believe that this is the first step forward to eliminating sexual harassment in Afghanistan. However, we strongly feel that the Law could be improved to ensure that complaints by victims are handled and processed properly.
3. We had submitted an urgent petition to the Presidential Palace requesting His Excellency not to ratify the law, on the basis that the law was incomplete, replete with errors and largely unenforceable.
4. The objective of a sexual harassment law is to criminalize all forms of sexual harassment against women and children and enact legal duties on State and non-state actors to prevent sexual harassment and provide redress. Women and children in Afghanistan are sexually harassed daily, causing them to fear their surroundings, suffer mental trauma, resign from their jobs and drop out of school and social activity. To combat sexual harassment, we had submitted in the Petition that it is important that:
- (1) Material terms in the law be precisely defined to aid the interpretation of the law;
- (2) The Committees reviewing complaints of sexual harassment, be vested with executive and adjudicatory powers to carry out its duties;
- (3) The law must set out a procedure for reviewing and adjudicating complaints;
- (4) All women and children must have equal access to the Committees and have their complaints reviewed; and
- (5) The law must hold all institutions, public and private, formal and informal accountable to survivors.
5. The law must be complete and comprehensive. Each article must be rooted in the law’s objectives and complete the survivors’ path to justice through a well-defined procedure.
6. In addition to the above issues which we had outlined in the Petition, there are several other issues in the law. To name a few, (1) the punishment for sexual harassment must be proportional to the gravity of the crime [punishment for sexual harassment is fixed in the range between 5000 – 10,000 AFN](2) victims must be protected after an act or crime has been committed (3) procedures must be put in place to protect children victims in educational districts (4) the composition and qualification of Committee members needs further definition.
7. We invite civil society to sign onto this Petition. We also hope to join all of you in discussions to amend the law and ensure that we collectively pass a law which will truly help survivors of sexual harassment on the ground.
8. Ms. Yalda Ahmadi, who is one of MA’s lawyers and advocacy lead, has reviewed the laws of several countries and law commission reports with our international legal advisor.
If you have any questions about the Petition or the Anti-Sexual Harassment law, do not hesitate to write to Ms. Yalda Ahmadi, at [email protected]
- President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
To sign the petition, click on the link below: https://www.change.org/p/amend-the-anti-sexual-harassment-law-of-afghanistan
AWN serves as a stable network for growth of those women’s organizations they are active in the country. It has active and considerable presence in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Kandahar, Bamyan, Paktia, Nangarhar and Kunduz, and is also active through its member in other provinces of Afghanistan.
AWN has over then 3500 individual members and 125 women’s organizations in its membership.