Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Right to Protection Under the EVAW Law

The Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW Law) was enacted by presidential decree in Afghanistan in 2009. This law is considered to be landmark legislation for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and was named by UNAMA (2011) as “the most important legal step taken so far by the Government to criminalize acts of violence against women and bring perpetrators to justice”. It criminalizes acts of violence against women, including rape, domestic violence, child marriage,forced marriage, the exchange of women in blood feuds and other disputes (‘baad’), among numerous other specifically cited acts of violence against women (VAW). The development of this legislation is highly significant within the struggle to strengthen protection for women’s legal rights in Afghanistan. However, the challenge now is to ensure that the EVAW Law is enforced, a goal that will demand a far greater degree of awareness, resources and political will than is currently the case. There are numerous stakeholders who will need to contribute to the promotion and enforcement of the law. There is also an urgent need for a monitoring mechanism to track implementation, and to consistently collect data on violence against women that can be used to measure progress. Without such reforms, it will be difficult to know whether the EVAW Law is having its intended impact.

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