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Last updated: December 2020

This subsection refers to women who are considered to have a public role in Afghanistan, such as a position in the government, law enforcement, education, healthcare, NGOs, or media.

COI summary

For women, there are many societal and family restrictions. For example, the participation of women in the ANSF remained a taboo in society although the importance of women within the police was reported in the press and female police officers have been recruited. Most women in public roles face intimidation, threats, violence, or killings. Women who work outside the home, in general, encounter frequent sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace and may be considered by society as transgressing moral codes and bringing dishonour to the family (e.g. women in law enforcement) and as being non-Afghan or Western (e.g. women in journalism). Female human rights defenders are considered to be in a particularly difficult situation because they were not only targeted for their work, but also for challenging social and religious patriarchal norms [Anti-government elements,; State structure, 2.1.2, 3.6; Conflict targeting,,,,,; Society-based targeting, 3.1, 3.3.2, 3.3.3].

Women in public roles (for example, women journalists, female members of ANSF) could be subjected to mistreatment by insurgent groups, by the woman’s family or clan, as well as by society in general [Anti-Government Elements,; Society-based targeting, 3.3].

Women seeking protection face a gender-biased and discriminatory justice system [Key-socio-economic indicators 2017, 3.8; see also the section 2.11.1 Violence against women and girls: overview].

Risk analysis

The acts to which women in public roles could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. violence and killings).

Not all women under this sub-profile would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: area of origin (particularly affecting rural areas), conservative environment, visibility of the applicant (e.g. nature of the work, public statements perceived negatively by the actor of persecution), perception of traditional gender roles by the family or network, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion or religion (e.g. when persecution is by Taliban), and/or membership of a particular social group in relation to a characteristic or belief that is so fundamental to identity or conscience that a person should not be forced to renounce it (for example, in case of female human rights defenders) and the distinct identity of such women in Afghanistan (as they would be considered as violating social/gender norms).

P1440#yIS1 The connection may also be between the absence of protection against persecution and one or more of the reasons under Article 10 QD (Article 9(3) QD).

See other topics concerning women and girls: