By Mick Krever, CNN
Even without troops in Afghanistan, the international community can and should support women’s rights, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“International oversight doesn’t require soldiers on the ground,” Heather Barr, who has spent six years in Kabul, said. “As long as the international community is paying for President Karzai’s army and President Karzai’s police force, the international community has leverage.”
All they need to do, she continued, is focus that leverage on women’s rights, something she claims they have not done so far.
“There’s a very strong feeling in Kabul these days,” Barr said, “that the U.S. has stopped caring about what Afghanistan looks like in 2015 or 2020.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that all gains made by women in the past decade have been because of the international community, Barr explained.
“They happened because of Afghan women, and men who support them,” she told Amanpour. “International intervention just provided some space and some financial resources to support that.”
The critical role for the United States, she went on, is not to let its frustrations with the Afghan government or President Karzai get in the way of protecting women.
“There’s a rollback on women’s rights in Afghanistan that’s starting now,” Barr said. “It’s not starting after the troops have gone at the end of 2014.”