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UN calls for increased efforts to stamp out violence against women

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2020)

The United Nations has called on all Afghans to increase efforts to prevent violence against women and that the violence has negative consequences not only for survivors, but also for their families, communities, and society.

Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW), the UN called on Afghans “to increase efforts to prevent and redress violence against women and girls, particularly in the context of the outbreak of COVID-19.”

This comes on the heels of the Afghan Women’s Affairs Ministry’s announcement that violence against women has increased in the country in the past year.

Speaking at the launch of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, officials said 2,582 cases of violence against women have been recorded in the past six months.

According to the ministry, the cases of violence against women included forced marriage, rape, and murder.

The 16-day campaign, launched on Wednesday will through to December 10 – International Human Rights Day.

The EU meanwhile stated in a tweet: “We, the EU and its member states stand against Gender-Based Violence.”

They called for every girl and woman to live free from violence, oppression and discrimination. “Join our voices to put an end to violence against girls and women,” the EU said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations stated that this year’s EVAW theme – “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” – is focused on accelerating concrete policy responses to gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19 and promoting zero tolerance of gender-based violence across all spheres of society.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated key risk factors for violence against women and girls, such as food shortages, unemployment, economic insecurity, and school closures,” a statement read.

“Worldwide, there has been an alarming increase in multiple forms of violence against women and girls, and information indicates that Afghanistan is no exception.”

The statement pointed out that the consequences of violence against women and girls – including physical, sexual, and psychological impacts – could prevent them from fully participating in society.

“Violence against women and girls has negative consequences not only for survivors, but also for their families, communities, and society. It is an impediment to the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, and efforts towards peace,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA.

“In Afghanistan, violence against women and girls jeopardizes their enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms at one of the most critical times in the modern history of the country”, stated Lyons.

“For millions around the world, the home became a safe space to protect us from a deadly virus. But for too many women and girls, the home became the place where they found themselves trapped with their abusers”, said Aleta Miller, UN Women Representative in Afghanistan.

“Our daily engagement with Afghan women across the country from the beginning of the pandemic flagged an alarming rise in the levels of violence against women and girls. Our data on the gender-differentiated impact of COVID-19 also matched this.”

“As it is an unprecedented time for Afghanistan, our solidarity with Afghan women and commitment to promoting and protecting their human rights must be equally unprecedented,” the UN noted.

The UN said that it is working with the Government, civil society, non-governmental organizations, and development partners in Afghanistan to respond to all forms of violence against women and girls through direct support to service providers, social norms programs to prevent violence, and campaigns and advocacy.

“During the 16 Days Campaign, the Afghan government, supported by the UN, is intensifying its advocacy and awareness-raising activities to address violence against women and girls,” the organization stated.

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IEA, US meet in Doha to discuss freeing of Afghanistan’s frozen assets

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

A senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) delegation, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, headed to Qatar on Wednesday to hold talks with US officials to release some of the $9 billion of frozen reserves. 

According to a Washington Post report, US officials have tried to set up a system for assets to be managed, while simultaneously erecting safeguards to ensure the funds are not siphoned off for misuse by the IEA.

One option discussed by those close to the talks involves having a third party trust fund administer the money, according to the report.

Bloomberg also reported that the discussion will center around “creating a mechanism for releasing the frozen Afghan reserves.” 

Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s finance ministry told Bloomberg: “We’re expecting this would be a serious round of talks.”

US officials have expressed optimism about the progress on talks but cautioned that several obstacles to the deal remain.

“It would be accurate to say negotiations are underway,” said Shah Mehrabi, an economics professor at Montgomery College in Maryland and a senior member of  Afghanistan’s central bank board since 2002. 

“We are in the process of trying to come up with a mechanism that will allow the transfer of reserves to the central bank of Afghanistan,” he said.

Mehrabi said food costs have skyrocketed by 18 percent in the past several months. Basic household goods rose in cost by 35 percent during the first few months of the year; in May, inflation for household goods hit 42 percent, Mehrabi said.

“These reserves belong to the Afghan people; they are needed to stabilize prices,” he said. “The faster it is delivered to the central bank of Afghanistan, the sooner we will see the impact of the reduction in prices that are critical to enable ordinary Afghans to afford food, cooking oil, and sugar and fuel. Now, they can’t do that.”

The delegation includes central bank Governor Mohammad Idris and Deputy Finance Minister Nazir Kabiri. They will meet with the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West and officials from the treasury department, Haqmal said.

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‘If Putin was a woman’ he would not have invaded Ukraine: UK PM

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.

“If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn’t, but if he were, I really don’t think he would’ve embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has,” Johnson said in an interview to German broadcaster ZDF.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “a perfect example of toxic masculinity”, he said, calling for better education for girls around the world and for “more women in positions of power”.

The British prime minister acknowledged that “of course people want the war to end”, but for the moment “there’s no deal available. Putin isn’t making an offer of peace”.

Johnson’s comments come ahead of a NATO meeting where allies will discuss how to respond to future threats.

Western allies must support Ukraine to enable it to be in the best possible strategic position in the event that peace negotiations with Moscow do become possible, Johnson said.

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Grand assembly to discuss ways to improve economic, social conditions: Hanafi

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

The grand assembly of religious scholars, scheduled to begin Thursday, is expected to discuss ways to improve economic and social conditions, Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said on Wednesday.

Hanafi said people from various ethnic groups and with different views will sit for discussion, which is a positive step in maintaining stability and strengthening national unity in the country.

 “After years, Afghans from various sections and ethnic groups and with different views sit with each other for discussion without foreign interference,” Hanafi said in an interview to RTA. “It is in itself a positive and valuable step for maintaining stability and strengthening national unity.”

He said that more than 3,000 people will participate in the gathering under the mega Loya Jirga tent in Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, also said that the gathering will be held under tight security measures.

He said that all technical preparations have been finalized and there will be several committees discussing key issues.

It will be the largest gathering in Kabul after the IEA took over in August last year. 

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