Situation of Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan
Press Release on the situation of Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan
The AIHRC publishes its Fifth Report on the Situation of Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan. This report evaluates the progress made and challenges faced by the Afghan government in the ensuring of economic and social rights of the people over the past two years, and present specific recommendations in relation to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.
The AIHRC’s field monitoring teams interviewed with more than 16,000 people in 27 provinces and the information collected through this makes the major source of this report. Still most of quality data in this report are collected through numerous interviews with government representatives, international organizations and civil society organizations and attempts have been made to discuss all the issues from these three perspectives. It is worth mentioning that vulnerable groups and people living in rural and remote areas have received specific attention in this report.
Assessment criteria in this report, has been based on two basic and legal sources, the Constitution of Afghanistan and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which was joint by Afghanistan in 1983. Other indicators related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for Afghanistan and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) are also considered.
In this regard, Dr. Sima Samar, the chairperson of AIHRC, said: "Given the volume of assistance and commitments made by the Afghanistan government over the past several years, economic and social rights has not improved with satisfactory and even in some areas shows regression. The Afghan government is obliged under international and national commitments to take serious and effective measures in this regard. "
Summary of the Fifth Report on the Situation of Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan
This report assesses the situation of Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan during 1388 and 1389 and evaluates the implementation and fulfillment of obligations by the government of Afghanistan in this regard. Before this, the AIHRC has published four reports on the Situation of Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan and now the fifth report will be published.
Work is the first subject of this report. According to the statistical information provided by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Martyrs and Disabled about 7 million Afghan population are qualified for work, of which 34.5 percent are unemployed. However, based on the field monitoring data of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in 1388 to nearly 57 percent of those interviewed have been employed and more than 53 percent of them were unemployed. Of those employed 32 percent make a daily income of less than 50 Afs.
Women are more deprived of the right to access to work. The findings of "national survey assessment of risks and vulnerabilities" indicate that about 47 percent of women qualified for work are active in the labor market, while this ratio for men is 86 percent that means the women’s presence in the market is 39 percent less than men. Women constitute about 20 percent of public sector employees. In 2006, they constituted 22.3 percent of government employees, and in 2005 it was 31.2 percent. 30 percent increase in women’s participation in elected and non-elected institutions at all levels of governance by 2020 is an important objective of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. But this statistics shows a decrease in women’s participation in the public sector.
Around 1.9 million children aged 6 to 17 are working in Afghanistan. These children are busy with 22 forms of hard labor from works on the street to works in agriculture, construction, heavy cargo, car washing, weaving rugs, shepherding and ... Approximately 92.5 percent of child workers aged 12-17 work for 42 hours a week and most of them are exposed to poor working conditions. 42.7 percent of those interviewed by the Commission’s field monitors have had a child worker aged below 15 years. 23 percent of them have stated that child labor is the only source of income for their families.
According to the official statistics provided by the Afghan government, about 36 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, this including 9 million people. Based on field monitoring data, the AIHRC, in 1388, 63.3 percent of those interviewed were in debt, but this finding in 1389 indicates that approximately 59.5 percent of the interviewees are in dept.
One of the most vulnerable groups of our society is the families of the martyrs and the disappeared. The number of martyrs registered in the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled was 124.361 people. This includes only those officially recorded by the Ministry and do not show the exact number of martyrs in the country. Based on the information provided to the Commission by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, 6.5 million children are at risk in the country. Of which, 16,000 children are orphans who live in 70 orphanages. This figure also shows only the registered orphans. There is no detailed information and statistics about widows and the unsupported women. The law on the rights and privileges of survivors of martyrs and the disappeared that was ratified in 1389 however has eliminated many of the obvious discrimination that already existed against the martyrs, but this law has never considered the rights and privileges of the families who have lost their head or supporters in the events other than war.
The right to marriage and family is the other subject of this report. Of the total complaints about violations of the right to marriage in 1388, 13.2 percent relates to marriage below the age of 15. Also in 1389, of total 852 cases of human rights violations recorded in the Commission, 6.2% of it was related to the right to marriage and having families. About 10 percent of those interviewed by the Commission’s field monitors said that the children in their families have been married before completing the age of 16. The reasons for their children’s marriage mostly have been listed the girl’s families being in debt, gambling, poverty, Bad and Badal. Commission’s filed monitor’s interviews indicate much worse situation and higher number of forced marriages. In 1388, a total of 122, and in 1389, 237 cases of forced marriage is recorded in the database of the Commission. The field monitoring data in 1388 shows 31 cases of a Bad that in 1389 has risen to 48.
The right to housing and property is another subject of this report. In 1388, 69.6 percent of those interviewed, and in 1389 72.8 percent of them were living in inherited houses. The rest of them lived either in their relatives’ houses or rented houses and a few lived in the houses that they had bought. Removing from the house, expropriation of property, and disputes over property (house and land) is relatively reduced. In 1389 0.7% of those interviewed said that their houses or land are illegally expropriated, while this figure in 1388 was 5.5 percent and in 1387 it reaches to 6.8 percent. In 1388, 59.1 percent of those interviewed had drinking water problem. Compared to 1389 this figure shows 62.6 percent increase. The major problems related to water is that water used by them has not been healthy and the water resource has been far away from their houses.
The people are also facing problems to have access to the government and private health services. Medicine and equipment shortages, lack of trained staff, lack of female doctors, the high price of health services, are the problems that people are facing in this area. The Objectives specified in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy has not been achieved in this area. According to the strategy goals, 90 percent of the people will have access to nearest health services by 1389, while the Ministry of Public Health has reported it as 60 percent. Lack of female doctors and nurses is another problem on the way to access to health services. According to the information provided by the Ministry of Public Health, 1,183 male doctors and 517 female doctors serve in the government health facilities as well as of the 5368 nurses working in the government health facilities, 4,563 (85%) of them are male and 805 (15 percent) of them are female. child mortality remains a major problem. About 8.1percent of those interviewed by the Commission’s field monitoring team have lost one child of theirs at the time of childbirth in 1389. Also this year, 4.8 percent of those interviewed said that a mother in the family has died during delivery.
Increasing people's access to education during the past few years is considered one of the important achievements of the government. The number of students since 2001 that was about 900,000 people now has reached to nearly 7 million. The number of teachers has increased eight times, of which 30 percent of them are female teachers. Despite these achievements, but still nearly half of school-age children, are deprived from attending school. More importantly, still there is no girl student in secondary schools in 200 districts of the country, and in 250 districts of the country, there is no woman teacher. Moreover, the importance of quality education is not considered.
Girls have more limited access to the right to education than boys. Boys and girls proportion in elementary level is two boys/ one girl but in higher level this differences is even higher. About two thirds of children, who are not yet attending school, are girls. According to the date provided by the Commission’s field monitors in 1388, about 73.8 percent of boys, 65.2 percent of girls regularly attend school. One fourth (25%) of girls and 16% of boys can not go to schools at all. the rest of them sometime of seldom go to school. Labor, long distance and insecurity are the important factors for the education deprivation for boys and long distance, insecurity and early marriage are the main causes for girls. Other causes are considered to be low quality of educational services, inability to provide clothing, books and school supplies, and traditional limits for girls and lack of teachers, especially the lack of female teachers.
One of the issues of concern in the enjoyment of the right to education in Afghanistan is early school leaving by the students, especially girl students. The number of girls in high school classes is significantly reduced. Based on the information of the Ministry of Education in 1388, about 96 thousand students graduated from grade 12 of which only 10 percent of them were girls. While the number of girl students graduated in 1387 was about 26 percent of total students graduated, and in 1389 the number of girl students graduated from high schools was only 9 percent of total graduates.
The issue of gender inequality is addressed in different parts of the report. This report shows that women in various spheres of social life, such as education, health, access and control over resources, economic opportunities, justice, and even political participation are faced with many inequalities and discrimination. The situation of gender inequalities in Afghanistan is one of the worst in the world. One of the most worrisome problems of women is the issue of violence against women, especially domestic violence. During 1388, approximately 2,260 cases of violence against women in Afghanistan have been recorded by the AIHRC. In 1388, 909 cases of beating, 62 cases of murder, 137 cases of non-provision of alimony, 31 cases of expulsion from home, 51 case of rape, 119 cases of self-immolation and 291 cases of abortion have been recorded in the Commission. But in 1389 about 2765 cases of violence against women have been recorded. The above mentioned statistics show that in 1389, totally 172 cases of abortions, 538 case of beating, 10 cases of deprivation of medical treatment, 46 cases of preventing from family visit, 276 non-provision of alimony, as well as 39 cases of rape and 144 cases of self-immolation is registered
Persons with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. There are around 800,000 PWDs in the country, making 2.7 percent of the total population of Afghanistan . These people are faced with exclusion in different areas. For example, only one percent of government’s employees is made up of people with disability and 75 percent of children with disabilities are denied access to educational services. The law on the rights and privileges of PWDs is defective and discriminatory, sensory disabilities, emotional, and mental disability or illness of any traffic accidents or natural disasters, are not considered.
Refugees, returnees and internally displaced people are the subject of this report. Although more than 5 million refugees have returned in recent years, but according to statistics more than 5 million refugees still live abroad. Afghan asylum seekers and refugees in Iran, Pakistan and Greece are faced with many problems. They are deprived of access to education, health and legal protections. Especially refugees residing in Iran are faced with many problems and pressures; sometimes they are collected from the road, work place or their homes and deported by the Iranian police. According to the Statistics provided by the Commission, in 1388 and 89 more than 15 percent of refugees have returned and deported this way. However, due to insecurity, unemployment, corruption, drought, lack of housing and lack of health services and education, many of them have complained of their return to the country, and asylum and immigration has been on the rise again. These problems also have caused hundreds of thousands to become internally displaced within the country. Besides these factors, the invasion of armed nomads also caused displacement of large numbers of people in Behsood of Maidan Wardak province and in Nahor of Ghazni province.
Aid effectiveness is another issue of this report. Since 1381 Afghanistan has received 57 billion dollars foreign aid, around 20 percent of which is spent through the government budget, the rest by different donor countries and institutions. This amount has been used to fund the total government development budget and, on average, 52 percent of the regular budget. Although the Afghan government has had some achievements in some areas, such as quantity of education, health services, rebuilding roads and presidential and parliamentary elections in the country, but these achievements, on the one hand, given the amount of aids received and extent of people’s expectations from the government, has been very little, and on the other hand, has had very low quality. Fraud in the second round of presidential and parliamentary elections, widespread corruption in public offices, the growing insecurity, increase in drug cultivation and trafficking are the cases that show that the Afghan government has not used foreign aid effectively. According to Transparency International, Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries and according to UN report drug cultivation and trafficking has increased 61 percent compared to last year. The right to access to effective remedies in the state judicial agencies is limited. According to the AIHRC case management database, in 1388 about 20 percent of the cases related to human rights violations were not effectively addressed, but in 1389 this rose to over 56 percent, this indicates about 289 percent decrease in the right to access to effective remedies by the people.
This report is available in Dari, Pashto and English on the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission website HYPERLINK "http://www.aihrc.org.af" http://www.aihrc.org.af