President hears us on our petition on penal code
One of our proudest accomplishments in this quarter is our achievement to obtain the President and Vice-President’s Office support to legitimize EVAW Law through an explicit reference to EVAW Law within the Penal Code.
We had submitted a Petition to the President on concerning articles in the Penal Code, namely Article 7(2) and Article 8(2):
Non-Recognition of Crime and Punishment Outside of Penal Code
“Criminalization and execution of punishment for an action, which is not considered crime and no punishment is prescribed for it in this law, is not permissible.”
We argued that the use of the words “in this law” in the Articles above restricts punishment to only the acts which are criminalized in the Penal Code (and not, EVAW law).
We mentioned that we understood and agreed with the rationale behind the Articles. However, that we were still concerned that the particular use of the words “in this law” may confuse prosecutors and judges as to whether the Penal Code has, in effect, repealed EVAW’s punitive mandate. We also expressed our further concern that opponents of EVAW Law will use this inconsistency to deny EVAW’s punitive mandate.
In addition to technical arguments on the law, we also developed arguments around why EVAW Law should remain a standalone law (and not integrated into the Penal Code). We drew these arguments from around the world where several countries including Afghanistan’s neighbors and other Muslim countries have passed standalone laws specific to women’s multi-faceted needs and which focuses on restoration, prevention and punishment (and not just punishment alone).
We were personally invited to the Vice President’s Office and our lead lawyer in the negotiations with concerning Ministries, was one of 4 women in a sea of men who spoke before the Vice President. Our amendments which we had neatly tabulated in a Table of Amendments were highly praised and taken on board as effectively resolving the internal conflict within the Penal Code. This meeting was a high-level meeting and even reported on the Vice President’s website.
We are proud of this achievement as it was a politically sensitive matter and there were disagreements between the women’s rights groups which exacerbated the efficiency of the process and the solidarity we needed for strong collective bargaining. However, we won the respect of the government, we built alliances with new members of the President’s Office and we believe that these alliances are important for all future advocacy.