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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

PRESS RELEASE & Open Letter from CW4WAfghan - How the Afghan Justice System is Failing Women

PRESS RELEASE & Open Letter from CW4WAfghan - How the Afghan Justice System is Failing Women

December 6, 2011

As Canadians honour the memories of women lost to violence here at home on the occasion of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) is calling on the Canadian Government to better protect women from violence and injustice in Afghanistan. The organization yesterday sent a letter to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, regarding the deteriorating justice system in Afghanistan, and the systematic failure of Afghan authorities to protect women and girls from being victimized by informal, tribal or customary law.

The letter highlights the case of 21-year-old Gulnaz, who was tied down and raped by her cousin’s husband, impregnated as a result of the rape, and then imprisoned for “dishonour” to a 12-year sentence. After an advocacy campaign by women’s rights activists, Gulnaz and her baby daughter, born in prison, are to be released under a presidential pardon; however, Gulnaz was reportedly pressured upon release to marry her rapist. Further, since she committed no crime under the laws of Afghanistan, she should be exonerated by the president, rather than pardoned.

“While CW4WAfghan welcomes the promise of Gulnaz’s release, the complicity of government authorities from the Afghan Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Office in urging Gulnaz’s marriage to the man who raped her is unacceptable,” said CW4WAfghan’s president, Madeliene Tarasick, who signed the letter issued yesterday. It is estimated that at least 300 other women imprisoned in Afghanistan face similar situations, and most female inmates in the country are imprisoned for “moral crimes” which are found nowhere in Afghanistan’s criminal code.

Afghanistan is the Government of Canada’s largest foreign aid partner. One of Canada’s goals in Afghanistan is to support gender equality, which is also a pillar of Afghanistan’s development plan, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). Canada has also funded legal reform projects, and is a major donor to the Afghan Government’s current budget. CW4WAfghan therefore urges the Canadian Government to seek far greater accountability from the Afghan Government for the commitments that have been made to protecting the legal rights of women and girls.

Attachment: Open Letter from CW4WAfghan to the Government of Canada
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Tel: (403) 244-5625

About Us:

CW4WAfghan is a volunteer-based, non-religious, non-political, federally registered charity and not-for-profit organization founded in 1996, with head office in Calgary and a network with thirteen chapters across Canada. CW4WAfghan members believe that individuals, as global citizens, working in solidarity and with integrity of purpose and action, can affect positive change in the world through education and the promotion of social justice and human rights. Our mission is Canadians taking action in partnership with Afghan women towards improving conditions of human rights, ending women’s oppression, and providing opportunities for Afghan women to live their lives with dignity, certainty and purpose. We alleviate conditions of poverty in Afghanistan through programs that advance education and educational opportunities for women in Afghanistan and their families; and to educate and increase the understanding of Canadians about human rights in Afghanistan.

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
PO Box 86016, Marda Loop, Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2T 6B7

t: 1 (403) 244-5625

Registered Charity #887718203RR0001

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