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Human Rights Watch seeks release of ‘runaway’ Afghan women

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A US-based human rights group on Wednesday demanded the immediate release of Afghan women imprisoned for running away from home, welcoming promises from government officials to stop the detentions.

Up to 70 percent of the estimated 700 women and girls detained in Afghan prisons are being held for running away, nearly always for fleeing forced marriage or domestic violence, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

At a meeting last Sunday, Justice Minister Habibullah Ghalib, Women’s Affairs Minister Hassan Banoo Ghazanfar and the deputy interior minister, Baz Mohammad Yarmand, condemned wrongful imprisonment of women and girls for leaving their homes.

Afghanistan is an extremely conservative country, where unmarried girls are often confined to the home and forbidden from having any contact with men outside the immediate family.

“The public pledges by top Afghan government officials to end wrongful imprisonment of women and girls fleeing abuse sends an important message of equal rights for women,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW.

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“Now the onus is on President (Hamid) Karzai and his government to promptly free the women and girls who have lost months or years of their lives on these bogus charges,” he added.

Around 50 percent of women and 95 percent of girls in detention are accused of so-called moral crimes, according to HRW research.

Under the constitution, running away is not considered a criminal offence but judges in Afghanistan have classified it as a crime, based on their interpretation of sharia law.

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Police arrest girls and women who run away, usually on the recommendation of their fathers, brothers or husbands who typically accuse them of both running off and having sex outside marriage.

“President Karzai should immediately issue a decree prohibiting all arrests and prosecutions for ?running away’ and order the release of all women and girls currently imprisoned on this charge,” said Adams.

The rights organisation also urged the government to do more to support 14 shelters, which provide the only refuge for women and girls leaving prison who are at risk of being killed by relatives for allegedly defaming the family.

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Although significant progress has been made on women’s rights since a US-led invasion brought down the Taliban, many fear those gains are under threat as NATO troops leave and Kabul seeks peace with Islamist insurgents.


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2020 Election

‘The people of Montana are no fools’: Liberian refugee taking on Trump-loving Senator Steve Daines

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First-term Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) was one of the few members of Congress to praise President Donald Trump's racist "go back" taunts that his supporters turned into a "send her back" chant against a black former refugee.

https://twitter.com/SteveDaines/status/1150859069084905472

In response, the Billings Gazette chastised Daines in an editorial, saying, "Montanans are more sickened by the never-ending torrent of childish, bigoted views that are shoveled from the White House that make the country look like bigots and idiots. And we're nauseous when folks like Daines invoke our state in defending a spoiled New York developer who would get tongue-lashed by most Montanans for the way he takes to Twitter."

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Democrat who lived under a dictatorship explains why she believes it is time to impeach Trump

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One of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee who will be interviewing special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday explained to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell why she believes it is time to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) immigrated to the United States from Ecuador as a child. When Mucarsel-Powell was sworn-in to office following the 2018 midterm elections, she became the first Ecuadorian-American and first South American immigrant member of Congress.

"Most Americans don't have time to read a 448-page report," Mucarsel-Powell said. "We found substantial evidence that shows us that the president obstructed justice. "And I think it is critical for the American public to understand that and that’s why this hearing will be very important on Wednesday."

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Watch Rachel Maddow broadcast ‘exclusive story’ that undermines Mike Pence’s claims

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Monday presented an "exclusive story" -- that undermines public claims by the Trump administration.

Vice President Mike Pence has been among the biggest defenders of the detention camps the administration is running near the southern border.

Pence has described the treatment of detainees as "compassionate" and "excellent."

https://twitter.com/VP/status/1149879335454515200

But that was not what Maddow reported on Monday.

"You haven’t seen this anywhere else," she introduced. "This is the first time this has been broadcast."

The story was an exclusive interview NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley conducted with a child refugee from Guatemala who was held in one of the camps for eleven days.

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