Karzai threatens to close Afghan women's shelters
Added under Afghanistan/Pakistan
Women's shelters in Afghanistan, long under fire from conservatives in the country, now face their toughest battle yet for survival. A government proposal now being considered would bar non-governmental organizations from running private safe houses and bring the 14 women's shelters opened over the last decade under the direct control and supervision of the Ministry of Women's Affairs.
For years opponents of women's rights in Afghanistan, including high-profile conservative political leaders, have accused the shelters of promoting prostitution. No evidence to support any such charge has ever been found, but this has not stopped critics from waging high-profile media campaigns against shelter leaders and their staff.
Women's advocates see this latest offensive against their work as yet another sign of a conservative resurgence in the country as discussions about peace deals with the Taliban grow louder. In their view, President Hamid Karzai and his government want to position themselves for a Taliban return to power by putting distance between their politics and 'foreign' ideas and institutions such as women's shelters.
"At this sensitive time when the government is going to start negotiation for peace and reconciliation with the opponents, women human rights are on the top list of threats," says a statement from the Afghan Women Skills Development Center, which runs a shelter in Kabul. "This is the right time to let the government and international community know about our concerns."
Sources: Ms. Magazine
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