The Meeting Report of the Protecting Women and Standardized Forensic Examination Advocacy Group
July 20, 2020
On Monday July 20, 2020, the monthly meeting of the protecting women and standardized forensic examination advocacy group was conducted online with the participation group member under the secretory of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). In the meeting Ms. Shabnam Salihi, the commissioner of AIHRC, Jamila Afghani, the Head of MEDICA Afghanistan, Lida Ahamadi, project manager, Hamida Ramazani, Advocacy officer and Shakiba Amiri, the Lawyer of Medica Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Bakhtyari, the Executive Director of AFSO, Mohammad Zaman Khoshnam, the project manager of AFSO and Ezmaray Tamim for ILF-A have participated.
Protecting Women and Standardized Forensic Examination Advocacy Group is a national network consisting of 20 national and international organizations that was established in 2015 in Kabul. This group was created with the aim of protecting women against non-scientific and non-standardized examinations. The group has worked consistently on launching advocacy programs, awareness raising, capacity building, amending laws, legal and psychological assistance, and improving forensic education materials.
Details of the Report
The meeting started around 10:00 AM with the speech of commissioner of the Independent Human Rights Commission. Ms. Shabnam Salehi first welcomed all the members and then wanted the members to have introduction of them and provide information regarding the activities of their organizations.
Mohammad Ashraf Bakhtyari, the executive director of the Afghanistan Forensic Sciences Service Organization thanked for providing this meeting and said that the our organization has conducted various advocacy, capacity building, public awareness and research programs over the past two months. In the awareness section, as you know, we have created a Facebook page called Protecting and Standardized Forensic Examinations in which I also publish the activities of a working group from the provinces; and we even hired a colleague to collect all provincial information and reports and publish them on the page. Fortunately, all the reports and activities have been published there. In addition to publishing reports, about 10 video clips are produced, TV interviews are prepared in which some of the experts have put their comments and they are all interpreted and published on the page. Also, a video clip that AFSO had prepared in the form of theater has also been published. Mr. Bakhtyari asked all members of the working group to take an active role in the Facebook page that I had previously shared with my friends and each one should react likes, comments and share. The suggestion that Ms. Commissioner and Ms. Ahmadi made, is a very great suggestion and at the moment the only option that remains is social media. The members of the Kabul Working Group should strengthen this page and share any activities and reports they have with us so that AFSO’s colleague can take the task of publishing the information here. So far, we have had some shortcomings from our colleagues and this is our suggestion that from now on, our colleagues should go the link again we share and like the page, put some supportive comments and share with the public. Fortunately, some of the posts we did on a few were seen by hundreds and thousands that was a very good step and I hope that this post will get likes and comments. In addition, we have prepared books in Dari and Pashto which will be shared by our colleagues in the provinces in meetings with our other colleagues. Last week, from the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan Mr. Qurbanzada received the same books written in Dari and Pashto from our organization and our colleagues from similar organizations can receive the books if they are interested.
In connection with the issue of advocacy Bakhtyari said to everyone that last month we had a meeting with the vice chancellor and the acting chancellor of Khatam al-Nabin University, who welcomed the discussions we had about the implementation of the forensic curriculum. There we asked the chancellor of the university introduce their students who are studying medicine, sharia and law to the symposiums which is going to be held and they did so. An advocacy meeting of AFSO was with the Ministry of Hajj Affairs that Mr. Minister said that the meeting will be held with his legal advisor. We had written a letter to the Attorney General to have a meeting, and the Attorney General had written to the Commission of the Prevention of Violence, and finally referred it to the Department of Forensic Medicine which was very interesting. The Directorate of Forensic Medicine Services is going to work within the frame of Attorney General’s Office in accordance with the President’s decree, and AFSO will have an advocacy session with the Directorate of Forensic Medicine. Regarding the capacity building issue, it is worth to be said that AFSO has a program with Kabul University next week. At the last meeting of the Kabul Working Group, Mr. Bakhtyari was asked to unify the document previously prepared by MEDICA Afghanistan, the Afghan Women’s Network and the Independent Human Rights Commission, and Bakhtyari prepared a paper position in which four examinations, including a hymen examination, anal examination, sperm examination in the absence of a DNA machine and determination of age in it.
In the research section, AFSO shared a number of questionnaires with methodology for defense lawyers, and currently the information is being collected, and hopefully, its analysis will be prepared and reported as soon as possible and share with all partner organizations. In addition, we prepared a number of questionnaires for police, prosecutors, judges and a number of experts to get opinions from these groups as well. In the capacity building section, AFSO recently held an online workshop for forensic doctors, in which 15 to 20 attended. International experts debated how to document sexual violence for forensic doctors so that forensic doctors document the sexual violence cases physically mentally without using other non-scientific and non-standardized examinations.
While sharing the activities of the members with other participants, the following topics were discussed.
AFSO is going to hold 18 scientific and educational symposiums on forensic medicine online in two steps. AFSO held the first 9 symposiums attended by 240 students from Kabul, Balkh and Herat public and private universities. Many lawyers, civil society activists, human rights activists, women’s rights activists and health workers also attended. In the first symposium, our focus was more on updating the forensic curriculum where the capabilities and limitations of forensic medicine and the ethical standards of medicine were discussed, and in the next nine symposiums, the consequences of the classical method including non-scientific examinations and standards will be discussed. 240 students will participate in those symposiums.
Ms. Hamidah Ramezani, MEDICA Afghanistan’s Advocacy Officer said that MEDICA Afghanistan is working on a report on cases in which medical examinations are performed. Fortunately, the report of these cases has been finalized. Next week, MEDICA Afghanistan will be working on its translation. MEDICA’s plan is to prepare a handout from the same cases for its workshops and share that to the participants in its training programs so that everyone is will get the awareness.
In addition to information regarding the activities of the group members, the following issues were discussed:
- Continuing advocacy to support women and standardized forensic examinations at the national level led by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
- Meeting of the representative of the working group with the Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs.
- Conducting awareness raising sessions in universities for students
- Strengthening the Facebook page of the Advocacy for Women and standardized forensic examinations.
- Finalizing of the action plan of the advocacy group for the protection of women and standardized forensic medicine examinations.
- Finalizing and sending the document without the logo of the Human Rights Commission with the support of the commission.
- Advocacy for the attaching the GBV Protocol (Gender-Based Violence) and the Istanbul Protocol (Cases of Torture) to the forensic science curriculum.
- Participating group members in symposiums.
- Registering 75 cases by MEDICA Afghanistan.
End of the Meeting
At the end, it was determined that position paper should be sent without the logo of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission since the commission has the membership of the Law Enforcement Committee of the Cabinet and the Judicial committee. Therefore, the commission as a member cannot present an endowment document and cannot defend and protect the document in the committees. All members promised to participate in the advocacy meetings and the next meetings may conduct in person.