July 26, 2017 Noorjahan Akbar 0Comment

This week, Mohammad Yama Aini, an Afghan diplomat with the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations physically assaulted his wife resulting in her admission to emergency care in Queens, New York. He couldn’t be charged because of diplomatic immunity.

This is not the first time an Afghan diplomat has committed violence against a woman. It is also not the first time a diplomat has gotten away with brutal physical violence with overwhelming evidence against them, because of their job. Last year, Joachim Haubrichs, a German diplomat, was called back to his homeland after punching his wife and emotionally and physically abusing her. In both cases the hands of local law enforcement were tied due to the diplomatic status of the abusers.

Afghan government’s reaction to this unacceptable crime has been swift, but we must remember that swift doesn’t always equate justice in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (MoFA) announced that they have called Aini back to Afghanistan and he will face investigation and legal repercussions. The nature of those repercussions have not been discussed and as of today, Tuesday, July 25, 2017, COB time, Aini is still listed as a staff member on the Mission’s website. All this has happened while Afghanistan is nominated to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

What is probably more worrisome is that no details have been given about the fate of Aini’s abused wife, Muzhgan Aini, and whether she will have to return to Afghanistan and continue living with him. Throughout this process, her voice has been completely missing from the conversation- sidelined and ignored as they government rushes to fix their own “PR disaster.” Efforts by Free Women Writers, advocates, and Afghans in the diaspora to get an answer from the Mission have gone unanswered. Instead of condemning this act of violence by one of their employees in the harshest terms, they have remained silent.

To make sure MoFA and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations follow up and justice is served, here are some things you can do. Tweet at the Mission (@AfghanMissionUN), MoFA (@mfa_afghanistan), and the Permanent Representative Mr. Mahmoud Saikal (@MahmoudSaikal) or (if you are in the United States) call the Mission at 212–972 1212 and demand answers.

This case of gender-based violence by a diplomate working for the Afghanistan mission is in itself a serious matter that must be addressed. The violent abuser must be fired and held accountable under the Elimination of Violence against Women Act and governmental figures, including Mr. Saikal who have remained silent thus far, have to condemn it publicly and show the world that Afghanistan will not tolerate this behavior

The mission also must go a step further to be worthy of the Human Rights Council- or a half-decent organization. Currently, there is only one woman employee in this organization and she holds the position of second secretary. The remaining eleven staff members and all the counsellors are men. Rest assured that this is not due to a lack of qualified women to take on this position, rather it is caused by a lack of regard for meaningful representation of women.

The women of Afghanistan- and the country as a whole- deserve better representation than this. Victims and survivors of gender-based violence deserve better than the Mission’s silence.

Noorjahan Akbar

Noorjahan Akbar is the founder of Free Women Writers. She loves reading and writing and like most Afghans, she is addicted to green tea.