The first women's shelters in Afghanistan only opened in the last decade, but have proven to be critical refuges to women fleeing violence. Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. The start of a network of shelters was the first crack of light into an otherwise dark void. The availability of shelters (14 in total now) is the very early beginnings of tackling a problem so pervasive as to often seem insurmountable.
In 2008, I worked on the first ever quantitative research into the levels of domestic abuse in Afghanistan. Our findings were nothing short of horrifying: in many places, a majority of women were facing regular abuse at home, whether sexual violence, physical violence, or psychological violence. Most marriages were "forced marriages" (distinct from arranged marriages), and abuse was often perpetrated by more than one family member, including female family members (30% of instances of abuse), such as a mother-in-law or sister-in-law. You can access the report, published by Global Rights, "Living With Violence: A National Report on Domestic Violence in Afghanistan" here.
Today, these shelters, which can sometimes mean the difference between life and death for women fleeing abuse, face their...More >>