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Defending rape victims in Afghanistan

In 2012 and 2014, we counselled and trained Afghan lawyers to defend victims of rape from arrest, conviction and imprisonment for adultery.

For every contentious point, we pored through every case law, every legal journal and NGO report for arguments. We left no stone unturned in order to develop a model defence statement to defend rape victims from prosecution.

Our arguments were new and creative. We succeeded in developing human rights arguments which were substantiated with Islamic law. Over the workshops, we worked with lawyers to map arguments and counter-arguments which are typically raised to diminish and degrade rape victims and facilitated mock trials.

The initial pilot of these arguments Court led to the successful release and reduction in sentence of 17 victims of rape and moral crimes. A gratifying moment was to hear that a Judge commended one of the lawyers, saying, “Where did you get this defense statement from? This is exactly how a case should be argued.”

We conducted similar workshops on child custody and divorce due to harm. We were successful in obtaining divorce for 36 women who were severely abused.

We are one of only a handful of organisations with expertise and credentials in international and Islamic law. We intend to build on this practice over the coming years and lead more strategic litigation efforts in Afghanistan.

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