Afghanistan’s independent human rights commission has recorded 52 murders of girls and women in the last four months, 42 of which were honour killings, compared to 20 murders for all of last year.
Activists and some lawmakers accuse President Hamid Karzai’s government of selling out to the ultra-conservative Taliban, with whom it seeks peace talks, as most foreign troops prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014.
During their 1996-2001 reign, the Taliban banned women from education, voting and most work, and they were not allowed to leave their homes without permission and a male escort, rights which have been painstakingly won back.
But there are signs the government is backsliding on women’s rights. Earlier this year, Karzai appeared to back recommendations from powerful clerics that stated women are worth less than men and can be beaten.
“Karzai has certainly changed, and women’s issues are no longer a priority for him,” said outspoken female lawmaker Fawzia Koofi.