August 14, 2012 — Some women's advocates are concerned that tentative advances in Afghanistan will erode as NATO troops withdraw and less international funds are pumped into the nation's economy, the New York Times reports.
Women's rights groups say schools and clinics for girls may be shuttered as international aid diminishes and the nation's political climate becomes more religiously conservative. The changes threaten to undermine a fragile network of pro-women support groups, government ministries and nongovernmental organizations, as well as laws enacted in the past few years to protect women.
The stakes for women were underscored this year through the case of Sahar Gul, an Afghani girl forced into marriage at age 13 and held captive and tortured by her in-laws. In July, an appeals court upheld prison sentences for three of her in-laws. The case drew the attention of international media and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who called for justice for Sahar Gul.
However, advocates say the ruling, while important, "masks a still-depressing picture of widespread instances of abuse of women that never come to light," according to the Times. Details of the case -- including that Sahar Gul continued to face abuse after neighbors, law enforcement and family members voiced concerns -- demonstrate how susceptible women and girls are to abuse, especially in rural areas where child and forced marriages are common (Bowley, New York Times, 8/11).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership