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Afghan rights chief fears vote fraud against women

Ballots of Afghan women in conservative districts are vulnerable to fraud in August's presidential election, the country's top human rights official said on Sunday.The movements of women are severely restricted by tradition in conservative parts of Afghanistan, where it is rare for women to travel outside their villages or even their family compounds. There, male relatives often register the women as voters.
By HT Correspondent | AP, Kabul
UPDATED ON MAY 04, 2009 12:12 AM IST

Ballots of Afghan women in conservative districts are vulnerable to fraud in August's presidential election, the country's top human rights official said on Sunday.

The movements of women are severely restricted by tradition in conservative parts of Afghanistan, where it is rare for women to travel outside their villages or even their family compounds. There, male relatives often register the women as voters.

"Two issues are of concern for me. First is that the right of the woman to cast her vote will not be given to her, and the second is that it's possible that there will be serious fraud in the election by this method," Sima Samar, chairwoman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, told a news conference.

Giving an example, Samar said that during the last six months of voter registration, 72 percent of those signing up in Logar a province south of Kabul were women. She said it was not "logically acceptable" that so many registrants were female.

She said officials also saw unexpectedly high registration of women in Paktika, Paktia and Khost provinces.

Under Afghan law, only the person on a registration card may vote. But Samar said that in the country's 2004 presidential election there were reports of one person casting multiple votes on behalf of other family members.

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