The US-based organisation called for governments around the world to pressure the Afghan government to free the women detained behind bars mostly after fleeing domestic violence or forced marriage. Some were convicted of zina, or sex outside of marriage, after being raped or forced into prostitution, HRW said in a report released on Wednesday.
“No one should be locked up for fleeing a dangerous situation even if it’s at home. President Karzai and Afghanistan’s allies should act decisively to end this abusive and discriminatory practice,” HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said in a statement posted on the organisation’s website.
The situation for women in Afghanistan has generally improved since the Taliban were overthrown. A 2009 law boosts women’s rights making forced marriage and other acts crimes. But enforcement is weak, especially in rural areas where enforcement is largely up to conservative make tribal elders.
The report said jailed women struggled to find support amid a “dysfunctional criminal justice system.”