President: Kathy Brugger
Editor: Maria Jeffrey

In Case You Missed It

        On Tuesday, March 18, Democrat Congresswoman and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Debbie Wasserman Schultz debuted the DNC's report on the Republican National Committee's Growth and Opportunity Project, released one year ago yesterday. See her speech at the National Press Club by clicking here. Watch the unveiling of the Growth and Opportunity Project one year ago below: 
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus at The National Press Club
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus at The National Press Club

Insights Into a Real War on Women

         This month, the U.S. State Department released the 2013 Country Report on Human Rights in Afghanistan, which claims that "increased targeted violence and endemic societal discrimination against women and girls" were some of the most widespread and significant human rights problems in Afghanistan last year. Below are highlights from the report, that largely looks to the standards set in the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women Act as the barometers to determine if women's lives have improved or not:
  • The 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women Act: In 2009, the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act (EVAW), which took effect in Afghanistan by presidential decree, criminalizes violence against women, "including rape, battery, or beating, child and forced marriage; humiliation; intimidation; and the refusal of food." The law does not have a provision dealing with spousal rape. 
  • Male displeasure with EVAW and political inertia to enforce it:  In May of last year, a female parliamentarian brought up the law in parliament to reaffirm its declaration of women's equal rights when a male majority used the mention of the law to speak out against it "by saying the protections for women were un-Islamic," according to the State Department. Overall, "there was limited political will to implement the law...and authorities continued to fail to enforce it properly and successfully."
  • Two structural problems with EVAW: The report states that some people believe there are substantive flaws with the way the law is written, such as its omission of spousal rape as a behavior worth criminalizing, and problems with the law's implementation and enforcement, to the extent that some prosecutors and judges in rural areas were not even aware of the law's existence. 
  • Government officials are often complicit in acts of violence against women: The report states that, "Police response to domestic violence was limited, in part due to low reporting, sympathetic attitudes toward perpetrators, and limited protection for victims." Indeed, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) found that "14.6 percent of honor killings and sexual assaults were committed by police" and "only 64 percent of cases referred to the justice sector were prosecuted or adjudicated correctly." 
  • Forced and underage marriages are illegal yet still occur in overwhelming numbers: The United Nations and Human Rights Watch estimated that 70% of marriages in Afghanistan were forced marriages in 2013, according to the report. The legal age of marriage is 16, yet a "survey of married women between the ages of 20 and 24 found that 39 percent had been married before the age of 18."
  • Extrajudicial executions of women and girls still take place: Extrajudicial executions by order of the Taliban and other non-governmental groups still take place. The report cites one example of an extrajudicial execution on April 22, 2013 when a father executed his daughter in front of 300 witnesses in the Badghis Province, after "Four religious scholars issued the execution order for alleged adultery and 'running away.'"
  • Freedom of movement is still being impinged upon: The report notes a religious edict that was issued in the Baghlan Province that "banned women from leaving home without a male relative, including when visiting medical clinics, and sought to shut down cosmetic shops." 
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