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Benafsha Yaqoobi, an Afghan disability rights advocate, is the 2022 recipient of the Human Rights Watch Marca Bristo Fellowship for Courageous Leadership in Disability Rights, Human Rights Watch announced today.
For years, Yaqoobi worked as an attorney defending the rights of women who faced violence. In 2008, she founded the Rahyab organization to provide education and rehabilitation for children with visual disabilities in Afghanistan and hosted a daily live TV show to raise awareness about disability rights. Yaqoobi later served as a commissioner at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, where she was active in shaping labor rights and disability rights in the country. She co-drafted the commission’s proposed revisions to the 2013 Law on Rights and Privileges of Persons with Disabilities, as part of a revision process planned for 2022.
When the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, she was forced to flee and was evacuated to the United Kingdom.