Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 21st, 2018

The Unending Suffering of Afghan Women

Afghan women have been highly vulnerable to individual and collective violence. The patriarchal system, parochial mindsets and cultural restrictions took their toll on them. The social and political barriers hampered their progress and denied their significant role in the community. The stereotypical phrases, which root in degrading view about women, humiliated women and underestimated their role to a great extent. Women are still the “prison of the veil” and confined within the four walls.
Afghan women suffer not only from domestic violence but also from terrorism. The Taliban fighters, who nurture a radical ideology, target women in public places. In other words, since women are treated as an inferior creature on the basis of their sex in the Taliban’s radical view, their freedom is curtailed and their rights are violated in the worst possible way. In suicide bombings and terrorist attacks, the gory scene, as streams of women’s blood ooze from riddled bodies, fills one with a strong sense of fear and hatred. In a nutshell, women fall victim to cultural traditions, patriarchal system, parochial mindsets, and social and political ills.
Gender discrimination still prevails in tribal belts, where women are flagellated or stoned to death in desert courts, mainly in case of eloping with the men of their choice. In tribal areas, a girl is not given an iota of chance for deciding about her life or choosing her life-partner rather she is supposed to live the entire life with the man chosen by her family, under the same roof, without breathing a word! It is believed that tribal councils are of the same view as the Taliban: women are created to satiate men’s carnal desire and be entirely subject to their husbands.
Despite the fact that discrimination against women is condemned in the Constitution of Afghanistan and men and women are entitled equally, the graph of violence against women are, reportedly, high. Speaking at a ceremony in Kabul to mark 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women, which started on Friday, Afghan President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani said that violence against women was a serious challenge in Afghanistan which roots in “misogynistic culture in the country”.
The bloody picture of Farkhunda, a 27-year-old woman who was lynched by a group of angry men, still haunts Afghan women. Simply accused with a talisman-writer, she was punished to death and the incident went viral in national and international media. Her sad death symbolizes how Afghan women are left at the mercy of “misogynistic culture” and treated as a pariah.
In a radical attitude, women’s rights are tailored by personal taste and then colored with a religious brush. In other words, religious extremists impose their own ideas on religion regarding women’s rights and then practice upon their self-styled methods. Their interpretations are sheer stereotype. The Taliban and members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) treat women out of bias, carnal desire and ignorance and their ill-mannered treatment has nothing to do with religion.
Although the post-Taliban Afghanistan approved a new Constitution in 2004 and established a democratic administration, violence against women continues unabated. The emergence of warring parties narrows the opportunity of women to take more active part in social and political activities. The women casualties in suicide bombings demoralize them and curtail their liberty. In another item, the government is, constitutionally, committed to protect the rights and liberty of the nation, including women and men, and pave the ground for all individuals to play their role without fear. Furthermore, the government has promised to empower women and uphold their rights through conducting educational and cultural programs. Article 24 states, “Liberty and human dignity are inviolable. The state shall respect and protect liberty as well as human dignity.” The dignity and natural rights of citizens are considered “inviolable” by law and will have to be respected by the state and nation.
Radical feminists believe that women cannot get rid of sexual cruelties and atrocities by gradual changes and amendment. According to them, patriarchy is a systemic phenomenon; gender equality is possible only by demolishing the system of patriarchy. They believe that those social and cultural norms which reiterate the slender figures and sympathetic attitudes of women, aim to extend their inferiority and obedience. According to this type of feminism, objectifying women through media, models and advertisements change women to sexual objects with the intention of amusing and pleasing men.
Indeed, men and women should have been given equal chance and opportunity in social, cultural and political activities. The government must implement law in every nook and cranny of the country so as to prevent from desert courts being conducted by tribal council in villages. Based on a legal principle, “No deed shall be considered a crime unless ruled by a law promulgated prior to commitment of the offense.” However, the tribal councils, which punish women for eloping, practice against the law, since it is not considered a crime. So, it is believed that if the government implements the law across the country, the graph of violence against women will decrease on a large scale. Additionally, if the counter-insurgency gives the desired fruit, it will help women engage in social and political activities more confidently. The National Unity Government (NUG) is hoped to take high steps in empowering women and alleviating their pains and sufferings.