Afghanistan Launches Plan for Action Amid Violence
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday launched a three-year action plan to stabilize and bring justice to the country, which has been in conflict since 1979. The "Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan" outlines five major elements that are deemed necessary to bring justice to Afghanistan; according to IRIN Newswire, these five principles are "acknowledgment of the suffering of the Afghan people, strengthening state institutions, finding out the truth about the country’s bloody past, promoting reconciliation, and establishing a proper accountability mechanism." Tom Koenigs, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, approves of the plan and pledges the UN’s support, saying, "This is a remarkable step, and especially so for a country that has suffered so much and in which conflict remains all too present… I applaud this courageous move," IRIN reports.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, headed by human rights champion Sima Samar, led a National Consultation on Transitional Justice and made recommendations for the national plan. According to Samar, in interviews with over 7,300 people, 69 percent identified themselves as victims of human rights violations and 76 percent believe that a sincere effort to prosecute war criminals will increase stability and security in Afghanistan.
The announcement of the action plan comes during a time when increased violence and turmoil continue to plague the country. Reuters reports that an estimated 1.5 million Afghans have died and some 5 million have been forced to flee the country since the Soviets occupied the country in 1979. Between 1989 and 1994, Afghanistan was in a state of civil war, which was followed by the oppressive Taliban rule until late 2001. Recently, a suicide bomber outside the governor’s compound in Kandahar killed eight people and wounded eight others, the Associated Press reports, and two women teachers along with three of their relatives were murdered in their home, ABC News reports.
Violence against women is on the rise, and the reemergence of the Taliban has severely restricted girls from attending school. Lawmaker Shinka Kharokhail told ABC, "Many villagers have stopped letting their girls go to school, fearing they will be targeted by the Taliban." Over 400 girls’ schools have been burned, and teachers are murdered for continuing to teach girls. ABC reports that the female literacy rate in Afghanistan is just 13 percent.
3/7/2014 Study Finds Continuing Gender Gap in Medical Research - Although 20 years have passed since the government instituted legislation requiring adequate female representation in medical studies, a recent study finds that a significant sex and gender gap still persists in medical research.
"Sex-Specific Medical Research: Why Women's Health Can't Wait" by researchers at the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Jacobs Institute at George Washington University Hospital finds that scientists still fail to account for differences between males and females. . . .