AWLN member Jane Kiragu attended the recently concluded 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. She had the following to share:
Tuesday 18th March 2014:
Afghanistan and the Justice system
The sharing from UN Women highlighted the importance of rebuilding judicial and legal infrastructure following the crisis. UN Women observed in addition to the basic infrastructure and towards strengthening and improving access to justice, other dimensions of access were necessary and they include addressing distance, costs, and levels of comfort with the legal language and processes, levels of empowerment to invoke and frame a complaint. UN Women is thus working with women’s rights organizations to increase the number of women in the judiciary, number of girls enrolling to law schools. Legal aid and shelters for survivors are also additional interventions that are being supported.
Other panelists spoke of their concern that gender inequality continues to be a challenge within the judiciary. They emphasized how critical a progressive constitutional framework is in facilitating increased gender equality. Since Afghanistan adopted the new constitution, it has guided their interventions for securing justice particularly for women. As such there has been a notable increase in the number of women judges and lawyers in the country.
Trafficking in women and girls
Convened by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons especially children and women, the session entailed a short documentary on a journey to Italy with narrations from survivors of trafficking titled “Italy: Breaking the Stave Trade.”
Most survivors are normally not detected through the routine security processes due to the secrecy and fear amongst survivors to speak out inter alia. The Special Rapporteur shared her approach to trafficking in terms of methodology to be 5Ps – protections, prevention, prosecution, punishment and partnerships; 3Rs – recovery/rehabilitation, reintegration and redress and 3Cs – capacity, coordination and corporation.
The Deputy Head of OHCHR, MaaritKohonenSherrif in her welcoming remarks observed the importance of locating the trafficking conversations within a rights based framework as part of the process of assuring continuity within the Post 2015 agenda. The call for a rights based and victim centered approach requires tangible substantive direction on the elements within these approaches – as such they would include aspects of accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment in terms of access to information and or autonomy over one’s body.
Towards highlighting some of the root causes of trafficking, it emerged that they are multiple reasons why women are victims of trafficking – these are both civil and political rights violations as well as socio-economic rights violations. They include lack of socio-economic opportunities, GBV, poverty, inequality, unemployment, culture of tolerance of violence against women (impunity),
In shifting towards the post 2015 agenda, Jessica Neuwrith, Honorary President of Equality observed the growth within the normative framework using ICPD and Beijing as the baseline. The term “trafficking” has evolved over time to gain its current recognition. In 2000, the Optional Protocols providing guidance and protection against human trafficking signals improved and evolving rights recognition. This she observed is not a mean feat, but there is need to ensure that in the Post 2015 agenda, the subject does not drop off as trafficking is one of the most severe form of rights violations. Considering violence was not part of the MDG’s, there is need to generate momentum in framing one of the root causes of trafficking as gender based violence and as such should be a component within the stand alone goal on gender for Post 2015
Looking into the future, there is need to appreciate the multidimensional aspects of trafficking so that holistic and integrated interventions are put in place. There is need for long term interventions that will reverse the impacts and vulnerabilities of poverty and other inequalities. The continued absence of data undermines comprehensive programming and hence renewed investments alongside the Global Plan of Action against Human Trafficking 2010 should be prioritized. Creative ways of preventing and breaking the cycle of trafficking and victimhood should be explored – these include utilizing survivors as champions against trafficking, using traffickers themselves to support identification of strategies to combat trafficking.
The presentation ended with an inspiring quote form Fredrick Douglas, “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”