Afghan activists condemn government’s plans to take over women’s shelters
Summary of story from BBC 17.02.11
Activists in Afghanistan have condemned government plans to take over shelters for abused women, saying the move could put the women’s lives at greater risk (see WVoN story).
The government wants to take control of the shelters, after accusing the various groups running them of corruption and misuse of funds.
Afghan safe houses are largely financed by foreign aid groups. The Afghan Women’s Network strongly denied the claims and said “women would suffer even worse odds to protect themselves”.
The Afghan government has alleged that many women had been tricked into leaving home without good reason and accused the refuges of misusing funds.
There have also been media reports accusing the shelters of encouraging “immorality”, prostitution and drug abuse.
In an open letter, the Afghan Women’s Network (“AWN”), denied all the allegations, and stated that the government’s plans for the shelters would put vulnerable women at greater risk of violence.
AWN asserted that that it would be easier for vengeful families to use influence or bribery to reclaim runaway women in state-run shelters.
It also accused the government of slipping “backwards” in its commitments to women’s rights.
The government takeover could mean the closure of some shelters and women being interviewed by government officials before they were admitted to a refuge.
Activists have expressed fears that, at a time when the government wants to engage in peace negotiations with the Taliban, officials are trying to appease extremist elements in Afghan society with this move.