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Afghan women fear losing freedom


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A study on women’s right in Afghanistan by Oxfam and Action Aid said that the rights of women are still under threat even after 10 years of progress after overthrow of Taliban rule.

The study highlights the worry of Afghan women that improvements could be sacrificed to secure a political deal with the Taliban. An Action Aid survey of 1,000 Afghan women found that 86% were worried about a return to a Taliban-style government. The survey found that many women were still denied basic rights.

The survey commissioned by Action Aid polled women in the provinces of Kabul, Balkh, Kandahar, Herat and Bamiyan.

The charity found that 72 per cent of those surveyed felt that things had improved for them since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001. But 37 per cent still feared their country would become a worse place following the departure of international troops.

Two-thirds of Afghan women said they felt safer now than they did 10 years ago.

Action Aid said that under Taliban rule women and girls were not allowed to have basic education and work, even access to healthcare had been not easy and they could not leave their houses without a male relative. Now things are changing gradually and there had been real progress in girls' education and with better health care, more women can work and a new constitution that enshrine equal rights for women.

The charity said progress had been made in the past decade but added that there was still a lot more to be done to improve women's lives.

Though the changes are significant but huge challenges still remain. Action Aid believes that including women in the peace, reconciliation and transition processes is the best means of safeguarding and furthering women's hard-won civil freedoms and human rights. However the charities warned that these flimsy advances were already under threat from worsening security in Afghanistan and a resurgent Taliban.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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