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04 April 2014

Humaira Rasuli about current challenges for Medica Afghanistan

medica mondiale has been working in Afghanistan since 2002 and Medica Afghanistan became an independent women’s organisation in December 2010. Today this young organisation faces great challenges. At the invitation of GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), the Director of Medica Afghanistan, Humaira Rasuli, came to Berlin in March and gave an account of the current situation.

With the presidential elections and the imminent troop withdrawal, the political situation in Afghanistan is very tense. Attacks and threats are on the increase. Staff members of Medica Afghanistan have also been called on to stop their work. "The intimidation attempts range from being sworn at or threatened through to physical violence. For example, after a television debate about the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW), water bottles were thrown at women's rights campaigners as they left the TV studios," reported Humaira Rasuli.

In spite of this, her staff in Afghanistan are continuing their work. "Our task remains to work towards strengthening women's rights and increasing protection for survivors against renewed violence," said the director of Medica Afghanistan in very clear words during her visit to Germany. She called on the German government to support the work of those defending women's and human rights. Additionally, pressure needs to be applied to the Afghan government to persuade them to protect the rights of women, especially in these transitional times.

After the end of the Taliban regime, there was indeed a strengthening of women's rights. Women have the right to education and they have also assumed important positions, such as ministers or leading police officers. However, the current transitional phase is putting these developments at risk. Therefore, the task now is to secure women's rights and to anchor them in society.

"2014 will not be an easy year," says Humaira Rasuli. None of the candidates for the presidential elections have put forward strategies which genuinely inspire hope that a new government will bring fundamental changes. So Medica Afghanistan and other civil society organisations are hoping that the security pact with the USA will be agreed and that the international community will continue to provide support. Humaira Rasuli emphasised how the solidarity and attention shown by many people in Germany is very important and a great encouragement.