Afghanistan: Suraia Perlika- “We cannot trust our statesmen”

Suraia Perlika is an activist for human and women’s rights. She founded the Democratic Women’s Organization with five other women in 1965. In 1978, she was held as a political prisoner and tortured for her activities related to women’s rights. After her release, she resumed the presidency of the Democratic Women’s Organization, became President of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, and assisted in the establishment of the office of the International Federation of the Red Cross in Kabul. Today, Perlika is the Founder and President of the All Afghan Women’s Union, the successor to the Democratic Women’s Organization.

Can you tell us about a time when your human rights were violated, something which has influenced your life?

I was held in solitary confinement for 18 months in 1978 without a trial because of my political activities. I was subjected to torture during investigations by the intelligence service and then transferred to Pul-e Charkhi prison. After I was released, I organised an international conference on women in Afghanistan. Because of my role in organising this conference, I was a victim of an assassination attempt and hospitalised for six months. I needed medical treatment for a long time to recover from the shooting.

What do you see as some of the important achievements in Afghanistan?

I am very pleased about the introduction of a 25% quota for women in parliament, the establishment of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and President Karzai’s signing of the law prohibiting violence against women.

What gives you hope for the future?

There is increased attention in Afghanistan to the role of women and an expanded role for the civil society institutions in decision-making, for example, in the Independent Elections and the Elections Complaints Commissions. (more…)

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