*The following is a letter by MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind published in the New York Times, in response to the article "Afghan Proposal Would Clamp Down on Women's Shelters."
Afghan women's shelters are a crucial refuge for women escaping brutal violence – and these shelters are under siege.
Proposed legal changes would place shelters under government authority and make a woman's access contingent on discriminatory social mores, including virginity and marital status.
Today, an Afghan woman facing violence can turn – with no questions asked – to one of the few shelters run by women's organizations. If this proposal passes, she will not even have that option.
These sanctuaries exist now because of the brave efforts of women's rights activists. The state panel that seeks to regulate women's access to shelters is part of a government riddled with women's human rights abusers.
Nongovernmental shelters, like those supported by MADRE, represent the one hope of women desperate to save their own lives. This hope cannot be taken away.
MADRE: Demanding Rights, Resources and Results for Women Worldwide
New York, Feb. 11, 2011