Clinton pleads for rights of Afghan women

2012-07-09 10:02

Tokyo - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a powerful plea on Sunday for the rights of women in Afghanistan, using a global forum to insist that they must be part of the country's future growth.

Her comments came as a horrific video emerged showing the public execution of a 22-year-old woman accused of adultery, amid fears that recent gains for women are under threat as Nato troops leave and Kabul seeks peace with the Taliban.

Clinton, who was addressing a world conference on Afghanistan's future, said: "The United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve peace, stability and economic growth if half the population is not empowered."

The top diplomat said the way forward "must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law [and providing] access to economic opportunity for all Afghans, especially for women".

"All citizens need to have the chance to benefit from and contribute to Afghanistan's progress. The United States will continue to stand strongly by the women of Afghanistan," she added.

But the execution video could renew concerns that Kabul is not doing enough to protect women, particularly from so-called honour killings, which were common during the Taliban regime that ruled from 1996-2001.

Culprits wanted

In the video, a woman named as Najiba is shot repeatedly in the back in front of a crowd of men in Qol village in Parwan province just north of the capital Kabul.

The woman was married to a member of a hardline Taliban militant group and was accused of adultery with a Taliban commander, Parwan provincial spokesperson Roshna Khalid said on Sunday.

"Within one hour they decided that she was guilty and sentenced her to death. They shot her in front of villagers in her village, Qol," she said, adding that the execution took place late last month.

Following the shooting a villager handed the video over to the provincial government, saying the security forces were "preparing a big operation to find the culprits".

The Afghan government issued a statement on Sunday saying it "strongly condemns this un-Islamic and inhuman action by those professional killers and has ordered the Parwan police to find the culprits and bring them to justice".

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "shocked and disgusted" by the reports of the execution.


"Such deplorable actions underline the vital need for better protection of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan," he said in a statement.

The Afghanistan Human Rights Commission also expressed outrage, with executive director Mohammad Musa Mahmodi saying: "We condemn any killings done without proper trial. It is un-Islamic and against any human rights values."

Washington says significant progress has been made on women's rights since the US-led invasion of 2001 toppled the Taliban, with the number of girls attending schools soaring and more women gaining employment.

According to figures provided by the US State Department, out of the eight million students enrolled in schools today, nearly 40% are girls. That contrasts sharply with 2002 when there were only 900 000 children in schools, virtually none of them girls.

The US says there are now 175 000 teachers in Afghanistan, about a third of them women, thanks to $316m spent on education initiatives.

US officials said Clinton had raised the issue of women's rights with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during her brief visit to Kabul on Saturday, warning that they were a litmus test for the country's progress.

The Tokyo talks have raised pledges of $16bn in civilian aid for the conflict-torn nation over the next four years.

Representatives from more than 80 nations and international organisations gathering in the Japanese capital later adopted the "Tokyo Declaration", pledging support and cash for Kabul.

  • Issa - 2012-07-09 12:12

    The 2001 invasion to Afganistan alone has made alot of havoc and panic in people of Afganistan that including women and children who have find themselves in a crossroads of war. many have died and still dying because of this invasion - come to the girls execution too wrong - in Islam a person can be accused if found red handed and 3 sane (not drunk) people must witness the adultery taking place. War in Afghanistan its hard to understand why things are happening this way? Why many super powers are in Afghanistan? Why are the superpowers fail to bring the two forces in together in one table and discuss their problem and leave people in peace - women and chidren are dying every day.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-09 14:48

      This is a physical universe of time, space, and free will. Emphasis on free will. The Taliban and Al-Quaida do not want to "discuss the problem". They want to control Afghanistan, and keep it in the oppressive past where women have no rights. They plant car bombs in public places and carry out suicide attacks, also in public place, to terrorize Afghans into giving them control of the country. They see themselves at war with those who want Afghans to vote for their leaders, and Afghan women to be free. Thankfully today 2.5 million girls are in school. Ten years ago there were none. This is what the Taliban and Al-Quaida oppose and fight against. They do not want to discuss anything other than "foreign troops out of Afghanistan" so they can take control of the country again.

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