The forced exile of threatened judges and girls who can no longer even study in Afghanistan

“I miss school, every night I fall asleep thinking about him, the teacher and my classmates. I also wake up thinking about them.” So expressed Marjan Ahmadi, an 11-year-old girl who had to emigrate with her parents from Afghanistan after the Taliban took power this Friday. She really likes drawing and dreams of one day being able to go back to her country and help other girls. She is very clear that she should have the same rights as her brother and therefore should have access to education, something that Afghan girls are deprived of. For this reason, he insisted that when he grows up, he will not allow his “rights to be violated.” The minor was one of the participants in the conference Afghanistan, the silent war against women and girlsorganized by the Bar Association of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and which has the experience of four of the judges forced to leave their hometowns due to threats.

Arrests, systemic discrimination and forced marriages: the Taliban’s ‘suffocating repression’ of women

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Women are regressing in their rights, which cost a lot to achieve, and magistrates Gulalai Hotak, Safia Jan Mohammad and Suraya Ahmadyar delved into this Friday at a special table. They managed to build their careers as magistrates, fighting repeatedly against prejudice and with their families. Last year, however, there were a total of 270 judges in the country, a symbol of progress. In the course of practicing their profession, they prosecuted rapes, sexist murders and some of them handed down verdicts against the Taliban. However, the overthrow of Ashraf Ghani’s government just a year ago caused alarm. Then there was a call from the international community’s judicial associations (including Spanish women who worked on these presentations) for the magistrates to leave the country. It is what the government’s delegate on gender-based violence, Victoria Rosell, described as “networks of women saving women”. Prosecutor Ines Herreros recalled that there is no democracy without people who guarantee compliance with the rule of law, and therefore they believe it is urgent to protect these women.

Suraya Ahmadyar provided data on the situation of women and girls throughout history in her country. Minors were not allowed to attend schools in the first Taliban period, but later half of Afghan girls were enrolled in primary schools and little by little they joined universities, choosing their professions, despite the burden of this “patriarchal society”. In 2003, the Afghan government signed Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In addition to the 270 judges, there were women in government and mayors before the return of the Taliban. But “everything was lost in one day and one night,” lamented the exiled magistrate, who added that “women are failing” to the point of being unable to work and condemned to begging or selling their bodies to support their families are your families. He referred to the fact that the Taliban do not believe in equality and that they consider the mere presence of women to be responsible for the corruption of men.

There is now an increase in women and girls on the street, with more than 35 million people in poverty. Thousands of young people were killed and soldiers beheaded, many more exiled. “Today’s Taliban are worse than yesterday’s,” Ahmadiar said. Regarding the increase in violence against women, Gulalai Hotak also spoke, adding that it affects several levels and among them access to health care and justice, since the most severe punishments are now for them such as stoning and execution “at extreme levels. World A health organization has already warned that Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality rate in Asia, with pregnant women, infants and minors dying during childbirth.

Safia Jan Mohammad worked as a judge on violence against women in Afghanistan and indicated that during the practice of her profession she dealt with rights violations that have now increased for women, such as gang rape, the sale of women and children, injuries, marriages forced marriage, the tradition of forcing a woman from a family where a man has committed murder to marry in order to reconcile with the victim’s family… “The Taliban make children victims of their targets and use them in suicide attacks “. “The dominance of this group is a danger in Afghanistan and the world,” he insisted.

life in exile

The rapporteur magistrates are now living as refugees with the help of organizations such as CEAR, although they admit that it is very difficult to live away from their country. Gulalay Hotak explained that he has been in Spain for eight months, but it is very complicated to learn the language and he cannot practice his profession here, but they have to work to advance. From Afghanistan, she fled to Turkey with the help of her brother and later with the Association of Women Judges in Spain managed to reach that country.

The president of this association, Magistrate Gloria Poyatos, an expert on women’s rights, explained that by working hand in hand with the International Association of Women Judges (of which Afghan magistrates are members), it was possible to remove the judges from that country, who through 2021 began receiving threats for “daring to judge a man for being a woman.” He recalled that in January 2021, two judges “were shot when they entered the Supreme Court.”

Helping women go into exile has been complicated since the Taliban confiscated their accounts and assets. Penniless and with their families at their expense, and while the judges’ associations from abroad handled the visas, they passed through various floors where they could not stay long to avoid arousing suspicion. Many have moved to Pakistan (where prosecutor Ines Herreros recently met with 30 prosecutors to find out about their situation) and from there to other countries, but there are still 70 in Afghanistan, “they are in hiding and threatened,” he noted .

In addition to judges, prosecutors and lawyers live under threat. The Government delegate on gender-based violence insisted at this meeting that “human rights are either universal or they are not” and that everything can collapse at any moment, which is why it is so important to guarantee rights and respect them international conventions. In this sense, Ines Herreros recalled that many of the situations described by these Afghan women were experienced in Spain during the Franco regime. It must be remembered that at that time Spanish women did not have access to just many jobs, university education or a bank account.

Defense Minister Margarita Robles opened the conference by urging us not to forget this country and pointing out that many of the women who managed to escape are now threatened by the husbands they left behind without ever seeing their children again. “We cannot accept this failure of the international community in the face of the complicit silence of our organizations,” he noted.

childhood dreams

Marjan Ahmadi was not the only minor to participate in a panel moderated by Deputy Minister of Justice Carla Vallejo. Ahmad Muzamel Ismail Hill is also 11 years old and comments on how much he misses his grandmother, the neighborhood, the playground where he used to play with his friends. He likes football a lot and hopes his parents will find a job soon. “People who come from Afghanistan are being helped, but not enough. We have problems with the language” and asked to help the children learn. The meeting was attended by two girls who study in Canarian schools, Ines Sánchez (15 years old) and Cristina Martínez (14), who demanded that the situation of women and girls in this country cease to be invisible in Spain, and not only because it can happen here, but because “it is enough to happen in one country for us all to fight”. And the thing is, “human rights are either universal or they’re not rights,” Vallejo said, recalling the words of Victoria Rosell.

The conference, which was opened by the Minister of Public Administrations and Justice Julio Perez and the member of the Las Palmas Bar Association Pino de la Nuez, ended with a table Shelter, impact on gender, childhood and adolescence. Urgent amendment to the Geneva Convention to integrate sex, gender and age as autonomous grounds for persecution, where Judge Gloria Poyatos, Nur Amar Lamarti of Wife by Wife d Ignacio Rodríguez Tucho, of14 Bar Association. There were also the last interventions of the Afghan magistrate Friba Quraishi and the girl Marjan Ahmadi to close.

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