One of Afghanistan’s most senior police officers has joined forces with Oxfam to urge the Australian Government not to desert the women of Afghanistan by pulling all Australian Federal Police assistance to the country.
In Australia this week to urge the Abbott Government not to abandon Afghanistan, Colonel Najibullah Samsour, Chief of District 10 Police, Afghan Police Force, said it was critical that Australia and the international community continued to back Afghanistan in developing a police force capable and willing to protect women and girls from violence.
The Abbott Government’s budget, handed down on Tuesday, maintained aid to Afghanistan at $130 million, but there was no allocation for the Australian Federal Police to continue their support.
Colonel Samsour said AFP officers had been instrumental in providing basic training for Afghan National Police officers in Uruzgan province and nationally, and crucially, this had included violence against women training.
Despite advances in women’s rights since 2001, Afghan women still face alarming rates of gender based violence, with 87 percent of Afghan women suffering at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological abuse and AFP have been helping to tackle the issue.
“In Afghanistan’s conservative society, there is strong evidence that Afghan women feel more comfortable reporting crimes to policewomen,” Colonel Samsour said.
“Yet at present women make up less than 1 per cent of the Afghan police force. Unless we do something about that, few women in Afghanistan will never encounter a policewoman.
“More needs to be done to keep policewomen safe at work and within their communities, recruit talented women and give them greater opportunities for training and advancement.”
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said Afghanistan welcomed the fact the government had not reduced the country’s aid budget, but said the $130 million figure fell short of prior commitments, with funding levels falling from $200 million in 2012.
“Australia has made an enormous investment in Afghanistan over the past decade, and has a clear stake and responsibility to ensure the Afghan people have a safe and prosperous future,” Dr Szoke said.
“A vital part of that will be ensuring women’s rights are protected.”
To arrange an interview please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Angus Hohenboken on 0428 367 318 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note Colonel Samsour does not speak English, but he is travelling with a translator.