Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, December 4th, 2020

The Suffering of Afghan Women

Woman, the social and historical pariah of human society, lives a noisome life. She is doomed to suffer overwhelming pain and anguish in one way or another. Her beauty is deemed suitable for advertisement gimmicks and amorous films, her modesty is tainted and her rights and dignity are trampled upon. Her dulcet voice and strong emotional character are used to embellish lucrative and sentimental movies. Her feminine charms and fetishes are used to tantalize the viewers in movie theaters. Her tears roll down her cheeks either in romantic films or under the fists of a cruel man. Her blood is shed not by the villains in movies but by the vicious characters on the surface of earth.
Her heartrending sobs and theatrical scene, however, reflect her real life. She plays the doleful role of a mother saddened by the mortal wounds inflicted on her daughter, the role of a lover tortured for falling in love, the role of a spouse suffers her husband’s fractious attitudes under the same roof or the role of a daughter – who is livid with pain and anguish for being restrained within the four walls.
In traditional society like Afghanistan, women’s freedoms and social role are restricted within the cultural frames. In another item, they encounter manifold socio-cultural barriers to take active role in social issues. A woman is considered as a productive creature to give birth and to feed and train her children. She is chained in cradle at birth, bound to suffer within the four walls of the kitchen and finally buried in an unmarked grave or her ashes will melt away – she takes all her dreams to the grave with her. This is her role she plays in a traditional community.
Roya, an Afghan girl, states the household chores of Afghan women very nicely as, “My identity is hiding somewhere in the kitchen, where destiny told me to be. I don’t know where it is. If you look for it, maybe you could find it. On my father’s favorite plate? In my brother’s soup bowl? On the shelf covered with salt? In the morning, I am the broom eating dust. At 10 o’ clock, it is time to cook the bread in the wood-fired oven. Eleven is time to cook lunch. Then I wash the dishes. After that, the cow calls me ‘Come on, milk, milk.’ Then back to the kitchen, more cooking and washing. I wait till the moon appears in the sky. I greet her as I go to my bed in the yard. I look at the moon, I understand nothing. In my dreams, I see myself big. I go to school, books in my hands. I see a nice office with a computer and my favorite clothes, a pink handbag. But nothing comes true. It is always the same. I am without dreams. There is empty space in my soul. The kitchen is my past and future. I am Afghan woman.”
The conservative frames of mind add insult to the injury. Women are supposed to live under the dominance of archaic stereotypes. The women’s nobleness lies in abiding by the cultural norms rule in their areas. A girl should live her whole life under the same roof with no rights to objection, not with a man of her choice, but with the one chosen by her parents. A single girl who dares talk about her future life-partner, especially in villages, will be labeled ‘brazen’ among her neighbors and family members. In short, a girl is deemed modest if her timidity outweighs her temerity. Therefore, they suffer under the guise of cultural norms – originates in traditional mindset.
After all, it is not all the pains she endures in her austere life. She falls prey to violence and honor killings, treated as anathema, sustains humiliation and vitriol, and mental and physical tortures – especially in domestic and conjugal life. She plays a tragic role not only in films but in her daily life. Her rights, dignity, reputation and blood are not valued enough. The appalling stories of girls and women make the national and international headlines on the newspapers.
Moreover, the history of Afghan women’s struggle for social recognition and equality chronicles Afghanistan’s physical and cultural devastation. Following the Soviet Invasion (1979-89), the Afghan Civil War (1994-96) and the dictatorial regime of Taliban (1996-2001) women’s access to education, security and jobs has been minimal. Today, in the post-Taliban era, the Western “liberation” and Islamic fundamentalism each impose their own values on Afghan society as political models. Westernization, with regards to gender equality, does not take into account the traditional concept of family in Islamic or Afghan culture and tends to negotiate the rights of Afghan women outside their community and family.
Constitutionally, men and women are considered equal and the rights and dignity of women must be valued. Likewise, discrimination and distinction on the grounds of belief, race, color, sex, etc. are condemned. The natural rights, especially the rights to life, liberty and estate, are recognized by the law. The identity of an Afghan woman must not be sought in the kitchen and she must not be precluded from playing social, cultural, political and economic role in the society. It should be noted that men and women are born with inalienable and immutable rights and dignity – which are supposed to be protected and respected.