UNITED NATIONS, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The UN agencies in Afghanistan on Monday called for full implementation of legislation to protect women from violence, especially child marriage, which remains rampant in the insurgency-hit country.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN Women have urged Afghan authorities to step up their efforts to fully implement the law on the Elimination of Violence against Women ( EVAW), in line with their international commitments, deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey told reporters here at a daily news briefing.
Jan Kubis, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and UNAMA head, noted that "progress in implementing the law to eliminate violence against women would help deter harmful practices and protect women from violence in their daily lives," del Buey said, quoting a joint statement by UNAMA and UN Women in Afghanistan.
Kubis added that the law is "critical" not just for women and girls, but for all of Afghan society. The international community also has firm expectations of the government on increasing respect for women's rights, which can affect the assistance that Afghanistan receives, according to del Buey.
In efforts to protect the rights of women, Afghan President Hamid Karzai endorsed in 2009 the EVAW law which criminalizes, among others, child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women on the pretext of marriage, giving the hand of a woman or girl to settle a dispute between two sides, forced self-immolation in addition to rape and beating. It also specifies punishment for perpetrators.
However, the law has yet to be ratified by the parliament. The debate between conservative religious and more liberal members of lawmakers was halted on 18 May.
The government has been criticized for failing to apply the four-year-old landmark law to most cases of violence against women.
According to a study released in December of UNAMA on the UN's mission to assist in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development in Afghanistan since 2002, there was "still a long way to go" in enforcing the law due to "dramatic" under-reporting of violence and gaps in investigations as a result of cultural restraints, social norms, and taboos, as well as insecurity and weak rule of law.
In the joint statement, the UN Mission and UN Women also call on international donors to support the government in meeting its latest commitments on gender equality, women's empowerment and the implementation of the EVAW law by developing a joint monitoring framework with specific indicators to measure progress in these areas, with development assistance based on progress made.
The commitments were agreed to by Afghan authorities and the international community at the Tokyo conference in July 2012, during which the international donors pledged more than 16 billion U.S. dollars in development aid for the central Asian country through 2015.