Afghan woman official killed by gunmen

December 11, 2012 - 10:13:54 am

JALALABAD: Unknown gunmen shot dead a senior government worker yesterday, officials in eastern Afghanistan said, five months after her predecessor was killed in a bomb attack. 

Violence against women appears to be on the rise in Afghanistan, which activists and some lawmakers blame on what they say is waning interest in women’s rights on the part of President Hamid Karzai’s government, claims he denies. 

Nadia Sediqqi, acting head of the women’s affairs department in Laghman province, was killed as she headed to work in the capital Mehtar Lam, said the provincial governor’s spokesman Sarhadi Zwak. 

“They shot her as she was getting into a rickshaw,” Zwak said of the attack about 150 km east of Kabul.

The officials added that she worked without bodyguards — a common situation for female government workers. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. 

Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and employment since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001.

But fears are mounting that such freedoms could be traded away as Kabul seeks peace talks with the group.

Sediqqi had replaced Hanifa Safi, who was killed in July by a car bomb that her family blamed on the Taliban. 

Women who pursue careers in ultra-conservative country of Afghanistan often face opposition in a society where often they are ostracised, or worse, for mixing with men other than husbands or relatives. 

Safi’s son later said that authorities had ignored repeated requests for protection, echoing greater concerns that the safety of woman government workers is not taken seriously by the government in Kabul.

This despite commitments to improve the rights of women 11 years into the Nato-led war.