Women and Children Legal Research Foundation (WCLRF) conducted an awareness program for Kabul university’s students on May 25, 2016 at Afghan Center at Kabul University (ACKU). The program aimed to introduce the HarassMap website to the students, especially girls to register their concerns, experiences of confrontation with sexual harassment and other related considerations. The program also meant to raise their information and knowledge in terms of sexual harassment and sensitize them to strategically fight against sexual harassment in Afghanistan.
In initial part, Mr. Sultan Ali Rahimi, WCLRF’s program deputy thanked the participants and the facilitator. Afterwards, he introduced the program, especially the awareness raising program intended for Kabul University Students to fight strategically against sexual harassment in Afghanistan. “WCLRF has made effort to provide a better and more equal opportunities throughout Afghanistan since the time of its establishment,” said Rahimi. “Many specific and valuable activities including two research reports have been carried out by WCLRF to identify and document the main causes of sexual harassment, as well as the consequences, legitimizing sexual harassment and to identify legal solution ways to end it.” He also added that creating and inaugurating a specific website to fight against sexual harassment has also been successfully put in place to systematically fight against sexual harassment.
Mr. Mohammad Ali Fakur then fully explained the HarassMap website, the goals, objectives and services will be provided through this website for women and girls in Afghanistan. He stated many reasons including empowering victims of sexual harassment and documenting sexual harassment cases were the basic reasons inspired WCLRF to develop and create the ever-first website in Afghanistan. According to Mr. Fakur, the following are the most important reasons:
- Document sexual harassment cases;
- Convince the decision-making authorities along with local influential, religious actors and etc. referring to the findings of this website;
- Enable the victims or bystanders to file a report through HarassMap and /or Police investigation offices;
- Guide and provide consultancy for sexual harassment victims;
- Guide and provide legal aid services and advocacy for sexual harassment victims.
He also explained the icons and their functions in details, especially “Report sexual harassment”, “Take action” and “Get help”. He urged all the participants, especially girls not to be silent and take action and receive the services provided through this unique website in Afghanistan.
According to Mr. Fakur, many services will be provided through HarassMap including filing reports, receiving help, conducting self-defense classes, empowering women and girls to stand to sexual harassment and never keep silence. “As we believe Silence endangers action repetition; silence results in perpetuating the action and perpetrator’s behavior legitimation, and silence causes physical and mental damage of victims/survivals,” he concluded.
Mrs. Shahla Farid, Kabul University Professor thanked WCLRF for being cooperative in tackling sexual harassment in Afghanistan. “WCLRF has made precious attempts to reduce violence against women and girls in Afghanistan since its establishment in 2003” she said. “It is still willing to support and empower women through different means and grant their meaningful participation in the political, social, economic and legal aspects.” According to Mrs. Farid, establishing and running a first-ever website combating against sexual harassment and drafting the anti-sexual harassment regulations are the most vital activities carried out by the organizations..
She afterwards, explained the anti-sexual harassment regulation to Kabul university students and urged the girls to file reports in case they have been subjected to sexual harassment in the academic environment.
Finally, Mrs. Humaira Saqeb, civil society activist talked about the importance of combating sexual harassment and students’ role in reducing it. According to her, the university and academic environments have always been the place where huge changes have occurred. “The legal provisions including Afghanistan constitution, panel code and anti-sexual harassment and technological tools like HarassMap created by WCLRF can be extraordinary supporting tools and students can utilize them to combat sexual harassment,” she said.