Human rights defender
For the past five years, Benafsha has been the provincial manager for programmes which work to defend the rights of Afghan women and girls. Both programs are part of a grassroots, civil society organisation dedicated to securing and protecting the rights of Afghan women and girls . Benafsha is a defence lawyer and oversees all legal and mediation cases for the clients in Kabul. She is also in charge of a shelter for Afghan Women. Here she manages an average of 70 women and girls whose lives are at risk. The shelter provides them with legal aid, counselling as well and aids in the development of others skills such as literacy, numeracy, life skills, Islamic education and language classes. Benafsha has gained exposure from national and international media outlets.
In 2015, Afghanistan entered a new period of uncertainty after controversial presidential elections which resulted in Ashraf Ghani as elected president. Human rights violations such as torture of detainees, violence against women and attacks on journalists are a serious problem. The Taliban and other rebel groups attack civilians without facing any consequences. International military support, donor assistance and media attention have decreased in the past years, which might lead to a further intensification of the human rights situation. This could have particularly dangerous implications for the rights of women and girls. Although Afghanistan has a Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) since 2009, Human Rights Watch claims it is upheld poorly. Child marriages are still common practice, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality during childbirth for many young women in Afghanistan.
As provincial manager Benafsha has been involved in a lot of challenging and dangerous cases. The stress that comes with this work is becoming harder to bear, and a stay in the Netherlands will give Benafsha the chance to regain her strength and build on her international network. Furthermore, her stay in the Netherlands will give her the opportunity to follow security courses (among other things), knowledge that she and her organisation need to protect both their clients as well as themselves.