Women have the power to bring about change, but fear and fraud will undermine their votes

Afghanistan goes to the polls
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The Independent Online

Poor security, rampant fraud and not enough female election staff will keep many women away from the ballot box in this week's presidential election in Afghanistan, say diplomats and campaign workers.

While the female vote has emerged as a potentially powerful bloc in some areas, it is unlikely the majority of women will vote in the violent south and east, where the Taliban have extended their influence. Female voter registration cards are also an easy target for fraud because many women will not have their photographs taken for them for religious reasons. In several provinces, such as Nuristan, the number of women registered to vote was higher than the actual number of female citizens.

"If you get more women voting in Nuristan than in Kabul [which has the highest level of educated and employed women], you know there is definitely something wrong," a source said. Reuters