Sexual assault covers multiple forms of violence such as public sexual harassment, sexual violence, molestation, eve-teasing, marital rape, sexual exploitation, and rape. Harmful gender stereotypes are intrinsic to the commission of sexual assaults in Afghanistan. Sexual assaults occur when a society stereotypes men as individuals with uncontrollable urges and women as causing finah, temptations or public disorder. These stereotypes are harmful because they justify and naturalize sexual assaults as a common and inescapable aspect of life. Far from being ‘natural’, sexual assaults act as a form of control over women. In 2012, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) published research identifying harmful gender stereotypes as a cause for victim blaming and highlighting the lack of investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults in Afghanistan. The AIHRC mapped out specifi cultural and social attitudes about women that contributed to “institutionalized” and “regularized” violence. AIHRC referred to stereotypes that women painted as “imperfect and unfaithful creatures” and also attributed these stereotypes to the “linguistic aspects rampant in the forms of saying and proverbs in the Afghan society.”
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