Young women in Afghanistan have risked their own safety to highlight violence against women in their country. The women staged a protest march in the country’s capital, Kabul, beginning at a bakery and ending at parliament.

Protests and demonstrations in Afghanistan frequently end in violence, and women’s rights is a very controversial issue within the country, with women still struggling for fundamental freedoms that are taken for granted by women throughout the world. New guidelines were recently released stating that women must travel with a male guardian, are subordinate to men, and should be educated and work separately.

The demonstration follows the killing of five Afghan women in less than a month, in addition to several other recent cases of horrific violence. These include a teenager who was brutally tortured by her husband’s relatives for refusing to contribute to the family income by working as a prostitute. Authorities have largely allowed this violence to pass unnoticed, with many of the perpetrators still free in the community.

The march, organised by Afghan charity Young Women for Change saw reportedly around thirty brave young women take part, with many others reporting their desire to do so but stopped by fear or not being allowed to leave the house. Poignantly, no politicians chose to leave parliament and acknowledge the protestors, highlighting the lack of concern from Afghan officials about women’s rights. The protest did, however, receive international attention and gain support from Kabul’s police chief, General Ayoub Salangi who stated that he believes the protest to be a “very good idea”.

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