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ITL Access to Justice project in Afghanistan

Promoting access to justice for the most vulnerable

The ITL Access to Justice project in Afghanistan is nearing conclusion. We are currently undertaking a detailed assessment of the impact this project has had on the lives of men and women across Herat and Badghis provinces. In this update we share a story of one of those your support has helped.

Promoting continuous learning and collaboration

As this vital project comes to an end, our local partner is focusing on engagement with local communities on justice issues, humanitarian support in response to COVID-19, and learning and development activities to embed the changes initiated through this project. Just one example of this is the bi-annual learning seminar which took place over the summer.

This is an important event as it provides a forum for representatives from Christian Aid’s Afghanistan team, our local partners, representatives from local communities, human rights departments, justice departments, academic institutions and other NGOs to come together to discuss the key challenges within the justice system and identify opportunities to work together on solutions. This seminar reflects Christian Aid’s belief that the greatest impact is achieved by working together.

The project has focused on creating linkages between both formal and traditional justice systems, which is crucial to ensuring that access to justice is not just a vision, but a reality for all. Mixing discussion of practice, Islamic teaching, national and international laws and traditional beliefs and practices, this learning seminar provided a safe space to promote discussion and debate amongst key parties in the justice process. An important point which arose during the seminar was that the fight for justice is firmly intertwined with gender equality. While it is acknowledged that this is a long-term process, the seeds of change can be seen in the fact that the formal justice system has recently started balancing gender and inclusion of women within the system. The overwhelming acceptance of all stakeholders that the engagement of more women will increase the quality of their work and enable them to better protect women rights is a success of this project.

Lives impacted through this project

The ITL project works primarily through the establishment of Community Based Human Rights Committees (CBHRCs). These comprise of several influential members of the community, including women wherever possible. They also include at least one trained Human Rights Defender. Deeply involved in the local community, the CBHRC raises awareness of human rights and can advocate for community members when they have been victimised. The stories below show the huge difference they make, particularly to women, who too often cannot access the justice system.

Khurshid, project beneficiary, Herat province

Khurshid’s story

When Khurshid was two years old, she lost her father and her mother remarried. Her family was very poor, and they desperately needed food. So, when she turned 14, her stepfather arranged her marriage to a 50-year-old man.

At Ali’s house, Khurshid was treated like a slave, brutally beaten and insulted and deprived of meals. With the help of the CBHRC, who represented her case to the local Shura she was able to secure a divorce on the grounds of abuse and given custody of her son.

Thanks to your help, Khurshid is now safely living in her stepfather’s house in peace and safety.

I am experiencing liberty and life without harm and violation

- Khurshid, project beneficiary, Herat province.

Salima’s story

Salima lives in Badghis Province. Her first husband was killed when a huge avalanche struck the village. Salima was left alone to look after their children. After some time, Salima met Mohammad Rasoul. Salima and Mohammad Rasoul started speaking regularly over the phone and soon they decided that they would marry. Mohammad Rasoul, along with village elders went to Salima’s father’s home to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Unfortunately, the family rejected his proposal.

With the help of the CBHRC the case was referred to the local Shura. After multiple meetings in this forum, the matter still could not be resolved and so Salima was supported to refer the case to the formal justice system. Salima explained she was exhausted by her fate being presided over by others. She wanted to direct her own future, desperately wanted her children to have father and was determined that she would marry Mohammad Rasoul.

After hearing the case the course found in their favour and announced them to be husband and wife.

Now, Salima is living with her new husband and her little daughter and is pleased to have a happy life.

Thank you

On behalf of Khurshid, Salima and Mohammad and all those men and women who have improved access to justice because of your support, thank you. We look forward to feeding back on the results of the final evaluation at the end of the year.