Afghan Women: the Kill List We Don't Talk About

Sahana Dharmapuri
May 22, 2014

While Osama bin Laden, Al-Zarqawi, Mullah Omar figured on a kill list of the U.S. as they are considered to be a threat to U.S. national security, women like Najia Sediqi, Hanifa Safi, or Malalai Kakar were on a list that violent extremists use to target people who are a threat to their security, writes gender advisor and expert on women, peace and security issues Sahana Dharmapuri.

Holding prominent public positions as women in the new Afghan government as ministers and police, Sediqi, Safi and Kakar refused to participate in a political project that does not recognize the human rights of everyone.

For Sahana Dharmapuri it is clear that those were the reasons why these women were killed. Furthermore, they could not rely on the same discretionary security arrangements, provided by NATO/ISAF or other security actors, as their male counterparts. This makes all women in public position easy targets.

According to local Afghan organizations such as Afghanistan Rights Monitor, the Afghan government does not keep track of these deaths, nor has it pursued prosecution of any of these murders, Dharmapuri writes.

She criticizes that women's human rights have long been considered a "soft" issue unrelated to "hard" security concerns by Washington, although Afghan women have increasingly demanded significant improvements in their access to public services and treatment since 2001.

Not paying attention to these women is a strategic mistake, Dharmapuri writes and concludes: “We have to face the facts: obliterating the right to free speech and freedom from fear by killing off the frontline of human rights is a primary military objective of violent extremist groups. Women who work as journalists, human rights defenders, police, teachers and doctors are targeted exactly because they are on the frontline of this fight.”


To read Sahana Dharmapuri's original article on Women’s e-news webiste, please click here.

Photo courtesy of Abdurahman Warsame.

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