Afghanistan

Religious scholars vital to eliminating violence against women in Nangarhar

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JALALABAD - To eliminate violence against women, the support and participation of everyone in Afghan society, especially religious scholars, is crucial, participants said at a UN-backed event that was later broadcast by radio in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province.

Panellists from civil society, religious leadership and the department of women’s affairs discussed the state of violence against women and new approaches to addressing what many have characterized as an endemic problem in the region. They also responded to questions and comments from the audience in attendance.

“We need everyone’s efforts,” said Nasratullah Akhunzada, a religious scholar. “The combined efforts of all parts of society, along with increased efforts in education, is what we need.”

Stressing that education is the long-term solution to eliminating violence against women, Mr Akhunzada shared some of the positive changes that are taking place in his village, including a reduction in the number of forced marriages due to teachings from Imams and mullahs.

Although the Afghan government has taken steps to improve the welfare of women and eliminate gender-based violence through the Elimination of Violence Against Women legislation, the situation remains unchanged for many women, especially regions of the country where harmful traditional practices still take place.

“Unfortunately, in some families, husbands beat their wives, causing severe injuries to the women and adversely impacting the wellbeing of children and families,” said Ghazal Atayee, a civil society activist, reiterating the need for a collective approach to tackling the problem.

The discussion ended with a call for more to be done by everyone, and for the government’s department of religious affairs to work with the communities to help bring change.

The lively discussion recorded at the event, which was supported by the Jalalabad regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), was broadcast by Safa Radio in and around Jalalabad.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.