President Ghani Should Honor Pledge not to Arrest Women Fleeing Abuse
Afghanistan’s government should urgently act to end wrongful imprisonment and humiliating, scientifically invalid “virginity exams” of women and girls, Human Rights Watch said today. Despite a pledge from President Ashraf Ghani in a February 2016 letter to Human Rights Watch to “prevent the imprisonment of women accused of running away from their family,” Afghan police and prosecutors continue to engage in the abusive practice.
“President Ghani’s promise to end the practice of arresting women and girls for ‘running away’ is an important step forward for women’s rights in Afghanistan,” said Heather Barr, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But to make a real difference, the president needs to issue a clear and binding order that immediately changes how every police officer and prosecutor handles complaints against women and girls. For too long, women and girls fleeing violence have been treated as criminals while their abusers go free.”