With NATO troops preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, women activists are growing increasingly nervous about the prospect of the Taliban returning to power.
IRIN’s latest film, The Sins of the Fathers, explores the work of the Afghan Women’s Skills Development Centre (AWSDC), a sanctuary for abused women and their children.
It offers legal support and vocational training for women like Amina* who tried to run away from her husband.
“My Dad was on drugs and didn’t know what he was doing. Every day he beat my Mum and brought men to use her. He wanted other men to use me too,” she told IRIN. “I spent four years with my husband, who already had two other wives… My Dad gave me to him even though he had two wives already. He accepted a lot of money from him.”
When she ran away, she was captured by her family and tortured. “They took me to a place I’d never seen before and didn’t recognize. Then they pulled out the nails from my fingers and toes and beat me a lot.”
She was then sentenced to four years in prison for the “moral crime” of running away from her husband. Abused and even raped women continue to face “punishment” and come up against considerable barriers in accessing justice.
“We are fighting to have women have access to their basic rights,” says AWSDC founder Mary Akrami, “because in most parts of Afghanistan women don’t have, unfortunately, even their basic rights.”
The last decade has seen some gains, including in maternal mortality, but activists fear progress could be at risk if Taliban influence spreads and women’s rights are watered down or negotiated away as part of a peace process.
*Not a real name