KABUL, 20 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Violence against women remains a huge problem in Afghanistan, a visiting United Nations official said in the capital Kabul, on Monday.
Yakin Erturk, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, its causes and consequences, had spent ten days visiting Afghan cities. She said child marriages, many of them forced, continued to be a source of violence against women and girls.
Erturk, a Turkish national, urged the Afghan government and donors to prioritise the elimination of violence against women as an integral part of public policy and to link donor support to progress on human rights and the protection of women.
"It seems that the international community has forgotten [Afghan] women and we can't allow that to happen," she told IRIN on her last day of her visit.
Erturk said she was astounded at how "invisible" Afghan women remain and at how they only seem to exist in public in relation to men.
"If they [women] turn to the police or the judiciary for protection and redress, they are likely to face abuse and be just taken back to the abusive environment," she said.
She called on the Afghan government to prosecute those who organise and participate in child marriages and to create safe havens for women at risk.
"I urge both the Afghan authorities and the international community to recognise that sacrificing respect for human rights, in particular women's rights, to the claims of stability, not only falls short of the United Nations' founding principles but is also politically short-sighted," the Erturk said.
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