Advocacy for Afghan Women’s Islamic and Legal Rights
In addition to providing direct services to women, Medica Afghanistan works diligently to improve the quality of women’s lives by advocating for their human rights. The purpose of the advocacy work is to bring about positive change in legislation, policies, and public attitudes towards women. One focus of Medica Afghanistan is a campaign for the mandatory legal registration of marriages in order to prevent child and forced marriages which are unlawful in Afghanistan and commonly result in severe violence against women and girls.
This lobbying strategy, adopted in 2005, has produced positive results: the Supreme Court has elaborated an official marriage contract and established registration offices in Kabul, Herat, Mazar, and Parwan provinces. Since marriages are commonly performed by local mullahs, Medica Afghanistan organizes trainings for mullahs from rural areas. Medica Afghanistan’s lawyers guide them through the registration process, and Medica Afghanistan’s psychosocial counselors present case studies of girls and their families suffering the violent consequences of child marriage.
Islamic scholars from the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs have joined Medica Afghanistan’s trainings to instruct local mullahs in Islam’s prohibition of child and forced marriage. Medica Afghanistan’s work to strengthen the process of registration continues to raise the awareness of religious leaders, social workers, teachers, medical staff, police, and staff of the Ministry of Justice and NGOs in all the provinces where Medica Afghanistan operates.
In addition, Medica Afghanistan has undertaken advocacy with prosecutors and judges to implement EVAW, the law calling for the elimination of violence against women. Medica Afghanistan also campaigns for the enactment of a new family law respectful of women’s rights currently being developed by the Family Law Drafting Committee comprised of Afghan experts and hosted by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Medica Afghanistan’s lawyers and psychosocial counselors have long worked with women prisoners, while the Advocacy team works to persuade the Ministry of Justice to improve the quality of women’s detention facilities in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Herat.
These are only a few examples of Medica Afghanistan’s Advocacy activities. It has also conducted poster and radio campaigns to counteract domestic violence. It has arranged informative conferences for the judiciary on domestic violence and women’s rights within the family. It has organized events to publicize UN Security Council Resolution 1325 calling for the active participation of women in all phases of peace-making and development.
It provides informative training and capacity building upon request to selected local NGOs, national, district, and community governmental bodies, and religious authorities on issues pertaining to women embodied in international human rights agreements to which the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan subscribes. Medica Afghanistan also participates in cooperation with the Afghan Women’s Network in advocacy and lobbying events to empower women to take part in the decision-making processes of public life and the peace and security planning so important to the future of the country.