Yesterday, Najia Sediqi, the head of women’s affairs for a local province in eastern Afghanistan, was shot to death on her way to work.
This is part of a systematic effort to intimidate high-profile female officials. Just a few months ago, Sediqi’s predecessor died in a car bomb attack attributed to the Taliban. Sediqi had repeatedly requested police protection but to no avail. “There is only one reason behind killing women: to prevent women from working in the government,” explains a local representative.
Today, the UN released a report on the state of Afghan women’s rights. It found the country still has a long way to go in implementing the groundbreaking 2009 Law on Elimination of Violence against Women–which criminalized child marriage, selling and buying women to settle disputes, rape, and other abuses. While the law is increasingly being applied, violence against women is still vastly underreported–and most incidents aren’t fully investigated.
Meanwhile, many activists fear the Karzai government’s commitment to protecting women’s rights is waning as it works to strike a peace deal with the Taliban.