Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, August 7th, 2020

Women’s Vulnerability to Sexual Harassment

Notwithstanding the establishment of democratic government after the downfall of the Taliban’s regime, Afghan women have been vulnerable to injustice, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination. Women are still viewed as being created to satiate the carnal desires of men, which is really outrageous to the public.
A number of men view women from immoral lens and think about them sexually. Regardless of women’s honor and dignity, notably underlined in Afghanistan’s cultural values, they harass women in public and in working environment.
It is believed that many Afghan women do not have peace of mind when they walk in public. They fear that they would be harassed, humiliated, or discriminated in one way or another.
Since social and political structures are designed in a patriarchal manner, Afghan families fear to send their girls to work. After all, when girls go to schools or universities, their families are concerned since they return.
One cannot deny the women’s progress made in the post-Taliban Afghanistan, however, it is highly difficult to change the social and political structures of Afghanistan so that all could exercise their rights and freedoms regardless of their gender. That is to say, the patriarchal structure of Afghanistan in terms of culture, politics, and tradition hamper women’s social activities.
There are mainly three kinds of perspective about women in Afghanistan: First, as the Afghan society is generally a traditional society, a number of people, view women from the glass of tribal code of conduct, which is based on parochial worldview. In tribal belts, women are hardly engaged in social activities. They are mostly subject to traditional culture of their areas and subdued to their families’ elders, including fathers and husbands. The women who live in tribal areas usually don local head-to-toe covering called “burqa”, which was rife during the Taliban’s regime. The men who live in those areas are highly narrow-minded regarding women, in turn, talking about women’s rights and freedoms are sensitive issues. They also prefer tribal code of conduct to national laws. Therefore, issues about men and women’s love affairs will be resolved through tribal councils and women are punished in desert courts. In short, they show strong sensitivity towards the rights of women and institutions supporting women and their rights.
Second, a number of people approach women with moderate attitude and seek not to discriminate women on the basis of their gender. Treating men and women equally, they try to support their daughters get education and exercise their rights and freedoms similar to their male counterparts. In addition to respecting moderate cultural values, they abide by national laws, which bestow equal rights and freedoms to all citizens. 
The third group exercises a secular mindset towards women’s rights and freedoms. They are kind of iconoclasts and show no tendency to the country’s cultural values and social norms.
With this in mind, those women who are socialized in the aforementioned environments have implicitly accepted the unfair manners. Now the question is that who is mostly engaged in women’s sexual harassment and which category of women is harassed more?
I believe, as I have observed, those men who have parochial mindset towards women and curtail the freedoms of their female family members are mostly engaged in sexual harassment. It is because they either think that women who always walk in public may not enjoy moral behaviors or simply harass women to restrict the room for their activities. Meanwhile, those women who dress in a more secular way are likely to be harassed more than anyone else. Mostly, Afghan men think that the women whose dresses hardly reconcile with Afghanistan’s culture may enjoy a low morality. Similarly, fashionable and attractive women will be also more vulnerable to sexual harassment in the country.
The main problem is that the government is not able to implement the law. For example, a woman who is harassed sexually cannot call the police for two reasons. First, it will be ridiculous for the police to go a far distance to prevent a sexual harassment. They are not available at the due time, either. Second, since Afghanistan has no proper criteria for recruiting policemen, they are not trustable. It is claimed that policemen themselves have been involved in sexual harassment. Worst of all, some high-ranking officials are reportedly been engaged in sexual harassment. Putting them on trial and proving the case is next to impossible. Hence, the government has to take this issue serious and implement the law equally. Since everyone is equal in the eye of law, each perpetrator has to be brought to justice so that women could exercise their rights, freedoms, and dignity similar to men.