Women’s Rights Regression in Afghanistan Criminal Code


Many Afghani politicians are not shy about their intentions to continue the oppression of women, commonly associated with prior Taliban rule. Proposals to re-establish public execution by stoning for adulterers and plans to remove the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW), are just a couple of examples. Starting during the Taliban reign in Afghanistan, women’s movement was, and still is, restricted. Females were not permitted to leave the home, have to wear full coverage burqas, and were not allowed to attend school. The EVAW, enacted in 2009, “criminalizes child marriage, selling and buying women to settle disputes, assault and more than a dozen other acts of violence and abuse against women.” Although the law’s enactment was a step in the right direction, the U.N. reported a lack of actual convictions against perpetrators of these crimes. International troops and aid have been present in Afghanistan since the invasion/response to the September 11thattacks, but forces are expected to depart within the current year.

Afghanistan parliament recently agreed upon revisions, Article 26 legislation, to their criminal code, which prohibit relatives to act as witnesses/testify in trial. This means that domestic violence, which generally relies heavily on the testimony of relatives, will be extremely limited. Relatives of accused abusers will be barred from testifying against them. The draft of Article 26 section involving the “Prohibition of Questioning an Individual as a Witness” states broadly that, “[t]he following people cannot be questioned as witnesses: . . . 4) Relatives of the accused.” The law still needs the approval of President Hamid Karzai before becoming finalized. Human rights groups, foreign embassies, United States government, and European Union policy specialists are urging the President to use his veto power. It is foreseeable that the law would make it near impossible for women to obtain proper legal standing for a criminal report which would act to deter victims from reporting crimes at all.

Will the freedoms Afghani women have gained be taken away again once international troops are gone? Won’t Article 26 be a huge setback for women’s rights in Afghanistan, if it is implemented?


Human Rights Watch

SAARC Gender Info Base



The Guardian


  1. Article 26, barring relatives from testifying against the accused, is definitely a setback for the Afghani women and really makes the EVAW a guise for women’s rights. It is widely known that domestic violence takes place in a more “private” setting. Abusers do not usually abuse their partners in public where others, strangers, can see. Therefore, abuse most often occurs within the home and often in front of relatives (especially the children).

    Article 26 then makes the proceedings a “he said she said” situation because relatives are forbidden to testify against the abuser. In a society such as the on the in Afghanistan then, a woman is not likely to be granted relief from the court. In a domestic violence situation, relatives are often key witnesses. With this ban by Article 26 women will be deprived of justice and the violence is undoubtedly going to continue. If this law passes, it will definitely be a step backwards and render the EVAW moot.

  2. As a person of Middle Eastern descent, it is shameful and plain out embarrassing whenever I see the way other countries in the region still treat their women. These countries tend to confuse their outdated cultural ways with religion and before you know it they are saying that it is Islam that tells them to treat women as mere objects. However, this could not be further from the truth. Islam is a religion that glorifies women and puts them on a pedestal. Countries such as Afghanistan need to wake up and realize that my oppressing their women they are doing nothing but keeping their country from progressing. Some of the greatest achievements this world has seen have been due to the minds of women who were given the freedom to pursue these achievements. The worst thing that could happen to Afghanistan is for this change in the law to pass. Domestic violence epitomizes the repression of women and if they limit who can testify then this act will go unnoticed all too often. It is an outright crime to humanity and the sooner women in these areas are given the rights their owed, the sooner that area can progress.

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