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KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Members of a women association in southeastern Khost province say they will not participate in this month’s presidential election if their photos are taken as mandatory during the voting process.
The women, in dozens, expressed their views during a meeting in Khost City, the provincial capital, today afternoon. They asked the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and other relevant organs to find other options instead of taking their pictures.
They said Khost women wanted to participate in the September 28 election but taking their photos was unacceptable to them.
Zainab Afghan, head of Milli Arman, a women’s association, told the gathering that taking photos of voters was not an effective move to curb fraud if the IEC really wanted to do so.
She said the move would cut in half the voters who were women. “Women in remote areas of Khost are not allowed to go out of their homes, how would they be able to uncover their faces and their photos are captured and then they will vote, the government should find other ways for that,” she said.
Shugofa, another member of the association, also said that they would not be able to participate in the presidential election if their photos were taken as mandatory.
“There are many families who say they would o not allow their women to participate in the election after the IEC said voters’ photos are mandatory,” she said.
Sania, another member of Arman Milli, said that Khost was a traditional society and it was difficult for Khost women to go out of their houses without jijab and participate in election.
She said women would be deprived of voting if the IEC went ahead with the condition of taking women voters’ photos.
Sania said as men and women were part of the society, therefore excluding women from the election process was not legitimate.
A number of other participants of the meeting also asked the IEC not to take photos of women voters on the Election Day.
However, the IEC said that taking photos of female voters had been suggested by political parties for transparency in the election.
The IEC had earlier said that women’s photos would be kept secret and no one should worry about the issue.
The commission said there were special polling sites for women which were managed by women only, therefore there should be no concern regarding taking female voters’ photos.
IEC spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi said the decision of taking female voters photos was taken after taking into consideration the Islamic belief and Afghan culture and the information would be protected from any outside access.


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