HERAT: In the wake of increased wandering street children who are being abused in various ways, a community support program has been launched in western Herat province to reduce the levels of violence against Afghan children and women.
The forum established under the Hajj and Religious Affairs Department’s auspices aims to resolve issues that threaten Afghanistan’s women and children, including conflicts, injustice, and household violence, as well as work for ensuring their rights.
Experts believe such a civil society organization (CSO) could overcome children and women’s problems in the community, especially in Herat province.
The community group will address violations of children’s rights and seek redress for their situation.
Mawlawi Abdul Khaliq Haqqani, head of the Herat’s Hajj and Religious Affairs Department, hopes the institution will put an end to many challenges and problems facing children.
The advocacy institution comes into being against the backdrop of an upward trend in street children, a vulnerable group that is being harassed and abused in various ways.
Haqqani promised that religious scholars would raise public awareness in this regard through mosques.
All members of the institution would carry out their activities without any privileges, said Haqqani, promising that from now onwards, the department would take action against any anti-Islamic act which caused problems for women and street children.
On the other hand, Monseh Hassanzadeh, the deputy governor of Herat, reiterated that the local administration had plans to change children’s situation in Herat. “Children have always been one of the most susceptible groups in society, struggling with all kinds of disorders and violations of their rights.”
“Lack of awareness and vigilant supervision have led to the violation of children’s rights as they have to endure underage marriages, hard labor, garbage collection, and all kinds of abuses,” she added.
According to her, establishing a child protection association would be a practical step to protect children.
In the meantime, Arash Bashiriar, a civil society activist in Herat, said: “In the past, many programs were launched to eradicate violence against women and street children, but to no avail.”
The civil activist went on to say that the difference between this program and other previous programs was the presence of Ulema. He called on the Ulema to raise awareness through pulpits and mosques about reducing violence against women and children.
It is worth mentioning that the Community Support Association consists of 25 permanent members of various institutions – the members are to be increased over time.
On the other hand, civil activists in Herat province say that various national and international organizations have been working in the region to eradicate violence against women and improve the lives of children for several years now. However, fewer people are witnessing these institutions’ achievements because most of them work for personal gains and are less concerned about poor children in this society.
Golsum Rufi, a woman activist in Herat province, believes that the government could capitalize on international organizations’ support for the well-being of the country’s children, but most of them are pursuing their own interests. “The government pays less attention when it comes to this.”
Meanwhile, Abdullah Elham, one of Herat’s human rights activists, stated that Afghan children had little to no access to rights, and few people paid attention to their miserable lives.
He warned that the situation of street children in Herat was getting worsened day by day.
The number of street and homeless children is increasing, but the government is involved in political issues, he laments.
It’s pertinent to mention that violence against women and street children has recently increased in Herat. The street children are on the rise who have to cope with numerous issues facing their unfortunate lives.