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Afghanistan: Protecting women victims of violence in Herat

Italian Cooperation’s support for the battle to end violence against women continues. This time, at the side of Actionaid and Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA), in an awareness-raising and legal aid project launched yesterday, 6 February, in Herat. Those taking part in the launch ceremony included Ghumal Rahmani, head of the Provincial Justice Department, and representatives of the Department for Women’s Affairs and other human rights organisations, such as Suraya Pakzad, from Voice of Women, and Selay Ghaffar, director or HAWCA.


Afghanistan has a law protecting female victims of violence: the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (2009). What is often lacking, however, is an awareness of the law and of how to gain access to legal support to ensure it is enforced. In rural areas in particular, abuse perpetrated within the home is all too often a private issue consigned to silence and a lack of concern for the victims. Actionaid’s initiative aims to break down these misguided convictions and inform women of their rights and of how they can obtain access to the justice system. At the same time, women victims of abuse will have a network of support to protect them and listen to their appeals for help.


The awareness-raising initiatives will be conducted in about 50 villages in 5 districts in Herat Province (Guzara, Injil, Kohsan, Karouk and Ghoryan). They will adopt the REFLECT method, with groups of 20 women meeting to share and discuss their problems. The women will also receive literacy training, an enhanced awareness of their rights, and information on how to tackle violence and obtain legal aid. Members of the local communities will also receive training on women’s rights under Afghan law and in religion, culture and tradition. The aim here is to encourage the development of local gender policies with a view to preventing violence and assisting the victims of abuse.