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Friday, August 23, 2013

The Future Of Women’s Rights In Afghanistan

An Afghan woman peers through the the eye slit of her burqa as she waits to try on a new burqa in shop in the old town of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 11, 2013. (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

An Afghan woman peers through the the eye slit of her burqa as she waits to try on a new burqa in shop in the old town of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 11, 2013. (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

As U.S. and NATO troops look to wind down operations in Afghanistan, some of the gains made in women’s rights there appear to be under increasing threat.

Two female parliamentarians and a female senator were attacked this month alone. And in July, a female police officer was shot dead in the southern province of Helmand.

“Generally, the security — unfortunately — is getting worse,” Afghan women’s rights activist Suraya Pakzad told Here & Now. “And when the troops leave, some areas are going to be in the hands of Afghan local police, which they cannot protect the security of those areas and protect the people, so unfortunately, violence against women will increase.”

In December, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced legislation to promote the security of Afghan women over the course of the drawdown.

Hutchison and Casey’s “Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act” passed in the House by a vote of 399 to 4. It was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law by President Obama early this year.

“They key part of this legislation was an attempt to, frankly, to build on the great work that Suraya and so many others had done,” Sen. Casey told Here & Now. “We not only want to make sure that we’re training the Afghan army and the Afghan police, but we’re also insisting that they have the kind of gender sensitivity and training that is necessary, and also that we’re taking substantial steps to do the recruiting, so that there are more Afghan women who are police officers and soldiers.”

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