Was Farkhunda verdict just? Many Afghans think not. 

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May 20,Kabul: On Tuesday, an Afghan judge sentenced 11 policemen to one year in prison for failing to protect Farkhunda — she used a single name — from a violent mob in March. The judge released another eight policemen for lack of evidence, reports says.

If the brutal murder of 27-year-old Farkhunda symbolized the endemic violence that women face in Afghanistan, women right’s activists say the subsequent trial epitomized the lack of justice that is often just as common.

The trial of 49 people charged for their involvement in the mob killing – including 19 policemen – provided a major test for Afghan’s criminal justice system. Tuesday’s verdict comes after four Afghan men were sentenced to death and eight others were handed 16-year jail terms earlier this month.“Afghan justice was itself in the dock at the trial in Kabul of 11 policemen for failing to protect an Afghan woman who was beaten to death by a mob,” writes David Loyn, BBC’s Afghanistan correspondent. “And many both inside and outside the country believe it failed the test.

Police complained during their hearing that they were ill equipped to handle the mob of hundreds that gathered outside the shrine where the attack occurred, reports The Los Angeles Times. Others said they did not receive word of the attack until much later.

News of the attack sparked demonstrations in Afghanistan and reverberated around the World. Small ongoing protests in Kabul have been provocative enough, Reuters reports, to pose a growing challenge to President Ashraf Ghani and his new government.

Few Afghans openly challenge discriminatory customs and laws that have been perpetuated by the Taliban. But Leena Alam, who played Farkhunda in a recent public re-enactment of her murder that was part of a demonstration, told Reuters she remained hopeful Mr. Ghani would protect women by enacting much-needed reforms.

“Unfortunately I haven’t seen him do anything yet,” she said. “We have not seen any leader do anything for women in Afghanistan over the past 13 years.”

A recent report from The United Nations urged the Afghan government to strengthen women’s access to justice. Most cases of violence against women are settled through family mediation because of perceived deficiencies in the criminal justice system, often seen as corrupt.

The Oslo Times and Agencies

 

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