Afghan Government Controllling Women’s Shelters?

February 20th, 2011

This article responds to the relationship between politics, religion, and the media.  According to Alyssa J. Rubin, the Afghan Cabinet wants the women shelters in Afghanistan to be ran by the government.  The government began take a closer look at the women’s shelter after a child bride from one of the shelters, appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.  Her nose had been severed off by her husband after she tried to run away.  This humiliated Afghanistan and made people across the world pay more attention to what was occurring in this country.  This was the turning point that made government want to seize control over the shelters.

The Controversial Cover

The shelters are currently operated by Women for Afghan Women, which is a privately owned and funded organization.  The Afghan government believes that these shelters for battered women and children are “fronts for brothels”, that encourage women to run away from home.  Some members want to completely close the women’s shelters all together.  The women’s shelters are allegedly destroying traditional Afghan values, with modern ways for women.  The Woman’s Affair Ministry in Afghanistan agrees with this policy and has started drafting new rules for the shelters.  The first major change is women will no longer be able to seek refuge at the shelter without reasonable cause.  They will first have to appear before a government panel of eight members, who will determine whether she needs the shelter’s facilities, should be sent to jail, or go back home.  She must also “undergo a physical exam”, that includes a virginity test.  Keep in mind that if she isn’t granted permission to stay at the shelter, after running away she faces mutilation, murder, and even being disregarded from her family when she returns home.

The main concern with the Women’s Affairs Ministry and government taking over the shelters is not what they can provide, but what they can’t provide.  The Women’s Affairs Ministry will be responsible for the women’s shelter; however they don’t have the efficient resources to run an operation of this size.  They can hardly find the appropriate staffing for their offices, because the women face threats and assassination attempts.  So how can they find the necessary staffing and expertise for the shelters?  Another issue is that the members of the Ministry are easily manipulated, they have a say in government but want to keep it peaceful for themselves at the same time.  If this is the group that will now be responsible for the women in these shelters, who is going to look out for them? Who is going to stand up and speak out for the rights of these women?  Who will protect them?  This ministry is not able to provide all the protection, empowerment, counseling, and other resources for these women.  They can hardly provide for themselves.

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February 14th, 2011

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