While Afghan women are in the midst of a refugee health crisis that threatens the lives of millions, the Vatican has criticized efforts by the United Nations to provide sound healthcare information and services. At issue is the UN Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Refugee Situations which the Holy See offices condemn because it encourages healthcare workers to provide information on emergency contraception and sterilization to women who are at high-risk for rape and maternal death. The Vatican also criticized the manual for taking a “nonjudgmental” approach to extramarital sex and homosexuality.
Kris Janowski, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner of Refugees, defended the manual. “Basically we are telling our people in the field they need to give options to those exposed to rape and AIDS,” said Janowski. “We cannot impose a moral solution. We’re just trying to save lives and protect people, trying to make their lives less miserable.” Afghans have one of the highest rates of maternal mortality as well as child and infant mortality in the world. According to U.N. agencies, refugee women are also more susceptible to rape and other types of sexual violence which can lead to even higher mortality rates, an increase in the spread of sexual transmitted diseases, and an increase in unsafe abortions.
The Feminist Majority is leading a massive campaign to increase humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees, the majority of which are women and children. To find out how you can help, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .