Sexual Harassment: Applying the New Law

Yesterday, a two-day workshop on the law prohibiting sexual harassment of women ended in Feyzabad. 25 female and 15 male staff from the gender units of Badakhshan’s governmental institu-tions and civil society organisations participated. Gender units advocate women’s rights and ensure female participation at their respective institutions. The Afghan-German Cooperation’s programme for promoting the rule of law in Afghanistan (RoL) financed and implemented the workshop togeth-er with the Department of Women’s Affairs.

At the workshop, the secretary of Badakhshan’s Civil Society Forum Organisation, Ms Shukria Shahrani, emphasised, “I am glad that the Afghan government supports women by implementing the new law. It allows Afghan women to work outside their home and participate in Afghanistan’s development process without the risk of sexual harassment.”

In the past, there was no specific Afghan law prohibiting sexual harassment of women. As there was no legal certainty, victims often did not report such cases. Therefore, the Afghan parliament approved a new law in 2016(1438). The law aims at protecting women who struggle with or fell victim to sexual harassment at work or in public spaces. Thus, women shall now have access to a safer work environment, increasing female contribution to Afghanistan’s development.

Workshop attendees learned how to apply the law to daily routines. For example, they now know the legal procedures for claiming sexual harassment cases. The participants will share the newly acquired knowledge within their organisations, serving as multipliers. The activity will therefore increase general awareness of the prohibition of sexual harassment among the Afghan population.

The head of religious education at Badakhshan’s directorate of Hajj and Religious Affairs, Mr Sayed Zainuddin Amanpoor, commented, “I am very thankful for the workshop. We learned a lot about issues related to the prohibition of sexual harassment and violence against women. We also discussed ways of preventing such cases.  Additional workshops should be held to increase awareness of the new law among the population.”

Badakhshan’s directorates of Hajj and Religious Affairs, Women Affairs, and Justice, have already established a sexual harassment committee together with the governor office’s gender advisor. The committee reviews sexual harassment cases on provincial level and refers these to judicial institutions. The new law obliges all provinces’ governmental institutions to implement similar committees.

The programme Promotion of the Rule of Law in Afghanistan (RoL) is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The programme aims at ensuring the rule of law, a well-functioning judicial system and legal security in Afghanistan. To ensure legal security for all citizens, RoL has been supporting so-called Huquq bureaus which handled more than 77,000 civil cases since 2013. In the same time, to support higher legal education, RoL provided more than 30,000 books to Law and Sharia faculties, organised more than 150 courses on legal topics for students and lecturers and awarded more than 60 students with scholarships. RoL further trained almost 13,000 police staff to carry out duties according to law. The programme also emphasises promoting women’s rights and strengthening their access to justice as well as the job market.

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