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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Afghan women face 'daily danger'
The plight of Afghan women has improved little since the fall of the Taleban, according to the human rights organisation Amnesty International.

An Afghan woman begs on the street, Kabul
A draft constitution is expected to enshrine equal rights for both sexes

There have been big changes for some women since the fall of the fundamentalist Taleban regime nearly two years ago - thousands of girls are now attending school and many women have returned to work.

But according to Amnesty International, most women are not being protected.

It says the risk of rape is very high, and girls as young as eight are being forced into marriage.

Women are not protected by the criminal justice system, the report says.

We have a lot of cases of broken arms, broken legs and other injuries... Most Afghan men are using violence
Woman doctor interviewed by Amnesty

During the war against the Taleban, world leaders said the conflict would liberate Afghanistan's women, yet many today are as oppressed as ever.

"World leaders, including President Bush and US Secretary of State Colin Powell promised that Afghan women's rights would 'not be negotiable'," says Amnesty International's UK director, Kate Allen.

"But there is violence on a huge scale in families and the community, and the criminal justice system is still completely unable to protect women."

New constitution hopes

Reports of rape are hardly ever investigated, according to the report - and Afghanistan does not have the forensic tools required to do so.

Instead, says the report, women are often subjected to crude "virginity tests".

Amnesty says that when women do appear in the justice system, they are far likelier to be seen as culprits than victims.

Typically, they are punished for adultery, running away from one's family or in-laws and having sex before marriage.

Amnesty gives a list of recommendations for Afghanistan - from training more women as judges and lawyers, to extending peacekeeping patrols outside Kabul.

The report comes days before the release of a draft constitution which activists hope will transform the way women are treated in the devoutly Islamic state.

But even if new laws are ratified by the mainly male constitutional Loya Jirga (grand assembly) that will consider the document, there is some doubt the measures will be enforced, correspondents say.

Much of Afghanistan is lawless and President Hamid Karzai's administration has little control outside the capital, Kabul.

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