EU denounces Afghan minister's prostitution comments
(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday she was "deeply troubled" by the Afghan justice minister's suggestion that women's shelters were home to "immorality and prostitution".
"His comments set back efforts to fight violence against women in Afghanistan, including the need to provide victims with safe places to take shelter," she said in a statement, reacting to comments by Justice Minister Habibullah Ghalib.
"Too many Afghan women have experienced violence, gender-based and sexual, often on a repeated basis," she said. "Women forced to resort to shelters are amongst the bravest Afghans we know.
"They deserve the support of the international community and from the Afghan government."
She said the European Union looked forward to a new Afghan law to crack down on violence against women "which, if implemented properly, has the potential to protect women against violence and ensure the safety of victims."
Ghalib outraged rights activists Sunday by telling a conference organised by the women's affairs committee of the upper house of parliament that foreign-funded rights groups were encouraging young women to defy their parents and seek shelter in safe houses.
"What safe houses? What sort of immorality and prostitution was not happening at those places?" he said.
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