Published on The Independent, by Jerome Starkey in Kabul, 12 April 2009.
Taliban gunmen murdered one of Afghanistan’s leading female rights activists yesterday, as she stood outside her home. In the latest blow against women’s rights, two men on a motorbike shot Sitara Achakzai in the southern city of Kandahar.
Officials said the attack happened in broad daylight. The Taliban have claimed responsibility. Friends said Mrs Achakzai was returning from a provincial council meeting; her assassins were lying in wait nearby …
… The murder comes just days after President Hamid Karzai was forced to order a review of new legislation which the UN said legalised rape. Fury over the law, which President Barack Obama called “abhorrent,” highlighted the desperate state of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
In September last year, Afghanistan’s most prominent female police officer, Lt-Col Malalai Kakar, was shot in a similar attack in Kandahar. The Taliban also claimed responsibility. (full text).