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Afghan Women Still Face Extreme Violence, Reports UN Expert

United Nations expert Yakin Erturk said that violence against women in Afghanistan is commonplace, pointing to forced and child marriages as the primary cause of violence. Erturk, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on Violence Against Women, highlighted poverty, lack of education, and years of warfare as the major causes of womens current plight in Afghanistan.

Ertrk has just finished a ten-day visit to Afghanistan, where she met with government officials, judiciary members, doctors, police officers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and women in prison to assess Afghan womens current circumstances. Afghan women have little protection from abusive situations and few options for redress. The UN expert urged the Afghanistan government and the international community to make the eradication of violence against Afghan women a priority.

The Afghan Ministry of Womens Affairs estimates that approximately 60 percent of Afghan marriages include women under 16 years old, the legal marriage age for women, according to IRIN News. Child marriage affects millions of women in developing countries and puts women at risk of contracting health problems, such as obstetric fistula, from becoming pregnant at an early age. Masouda Jalal, the Afghan Minister of Womens Affairs, called child marriage a violation of equality and harmful to girls health, their educational and economic opportunities and political participation, reports IRIN News.

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Media Resources: IRIN News 7/14/05; UN News Service 7/18/05; UN Press Release 7/18/05