Women’s rights watchdog Medica Afghanistan on Sunday reported that at least 40 Afghan women were forced to endure humiliating gynecological examinations in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif during the course of 2017.
The organization said these tests had been traumatic and in violation of women’s rights.
According to Medica Afghanistan, those who “failed these examinations” were then kicked out of their homes and left destitute.
“Our government has confirmed that these examinations are a cultural practice with no foundation in the law. With this public acknowledgment and the recent enactment of the Prohibition of Torture Law, our intent is to ensure that we bring justice to our clients who have survived these examinations. Over the last few months, we have counselled clients, engaged with judges and prosecutors and filed various petitions and official letters to put an end to this unlawful practice. We are preparing ourselves to find a way to remedy (the situation for) our clients and ensure they are adequately compensated,” Medica Afghanistan said in a press release.
Meanwhile Afghanistan’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Ministry of Interior (MoI) have called for legal action to be taken against practitioners carrying out such tests.
“With consideration of these ideas and public certification and the Torture Law which was approved recently, this method of genital examination can be evaluated as a crime and torture not something else,” said Humaira Amir, CEO of Medica Afghanistan.
“We should strive to create a mechanism so that the people in Afghanistan feel safe and live with human safety, because forced gynecological tests very rarely helps to determine criminal cases,” said Sima Samar, chairperson of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)
Legal experts say that such examinations are in contravention of Articles 2 and 3 of Chapter 640 of the Afghan Penal Code in which the law calls for the prosecution of those involved in such illegal activities.
“There is clarification in the Penal Code of Afghanistan which is already implemented about the prevention of gynecological examinations,” said Mohammad Aman Riazat, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice.
“We have issued direction to our police that no one is authorized to send someone for examinations to forensic units unless there is a direct claim, or the crime is evident or the woman shows willingness for it,” said MoI spokesman Najib Danish.
Medica Afghanistan is now trying to work with the Committee to Prohibit Forced Gynecological Examinations in order to put an end to the trend.
“For this reason, we made it our mission to bring clarity to the issues in cooperation with the Committee to Prohibit Forced Gynecological Examinations. We organized this conference of doctors, lawyers and activists – in order to clarify complex medico-legal questions which commonly arises in rape and zina cases,” said the press release.