Sexual abuse at work commonplace for Afghan policewomen: HRW
Zee Media Bureau
Kabul: A rights group shocked many on Thursday by revealing that Afghanistan's policewomen suffer sexual assault by male colleagues, often inside police stations, and called for women-only toilets and changing facilities to curb such abuse.
To address the "rampant violence" against women in the society, addressing the concerns of policewomen was necessary, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
"Harassment and abuse is an everyday experience for many Afghan women," HRW's Asia director Brad Adams was reported by agencies as saying.
"Without the consistent presence of female police officers across the country, legal protections for women will remain an unfulfilled promise."
In a statement, the group cited "numerous" media reports of the rape of female officers by male colleagues, and said the lack of separate secure toilets or places to change clothes makes them particularly vulnerable.
Due to threats posed by Taliban insurgents and conservative Islamic nation opposed to the concept of women police, most of the country's 1,500 female police cannot travel to work in uniform.
"As the number of women in the police force has risen, so have the allegations by female officers of having been raped, assaulted or sexually harassed by male colleagues," HRW said.
Most such assaults happen in isolated places such as unsafe toilets and changing areas.
The rights group said policewomen have no access to "suitable and safe" separate restrooms and orders by top officials to provide them had been ignored.
"The government of Afghanistan should take immediate action to ensure that the country's female police officers have access to separate, safe and lockable restroom facilities in police stations," it said.
Women make up just one percent of the war-torn country's 160,000-strong Western-funded police force.