Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Civilian casualties in the worsening war in Afghanistan are up just over 30 percent in the current year, the United Nations said in a mid-year report this week, holding the Taliban responsible for three-quarters of the deaths or injuries.
More worrying, women and children seem to be taking the brunt of the violence directed by a resurgent Taliban, which will only stoke more concern about the wisdom of seeking reconciliation with the hardline Islamist group.
Indeed the Taliban have been blamed for a series of horrific assaults on women in recent weeks, which must be distasteful to even those pushing for a deal with them as a way to end the nine-year conflict.
A 48-year-old widow was given dozens of lashes in public and then executed for alleged adultery by the insurgents in the northwestern Badghis province on Sunday, according to a Reuters report, citing a provincial police officer. This came hard on the heels of a Time magazine cover picture of an 18-year-old woman allegedly disfigured by the Taliban for trying to flee abuse by her husband.
The United Nations said last week that Afghanistan is “without doubt” the worst place in the world for a child, especially a girl, to be born.
It has the highest infant mortality rate in the world, 70 percent of Afghans have no access to clean water and hundreds of schools, mostly girls’ schools, have been attacked by Taliban or other insurgents.