Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, February 23rd, 2024

Afghan Women – Vulnerable to Violence

The persistent violence against Afghan women unfolds the patriarchal system and traditional beliefs practiced widely in individual and collective life. They have been discriminated on the grounds of their sex and suffered mental and physical tortures in one way or another, which root in wrong notions and have no religious or legal basis. What is more, they have constantly found themselves confined within cultural restrictions and ideological dogmatism.
A large number of Afghan women, mainly those who live in villages, are unable to unleash their feelings or raise their voice against painful tortures being inflicted upon them. Patriarchal system, which is deeply embedded in our culture and traditions, has curtailed women’s freedom as well as their cultural and political activities. The restrictive norms and traditional folklores put the rights and liberty of Afghan women at stake. In Afghanistan, mainly in remote areas, it will be indecent of a woman to file against her spouse for his violent behavior. In sum, women are still being treated as pariahs in some parts of the country. Afghan women bore the brunt of violence during the Taliban’s regime – the memory still haunts them. The Taliban’s harsh ideology took their toll on women’s rights and liberty. Women were deemed not only an inferior creature but also a tool for satiating men’s carnal desire. The women who broke the Talibanic taboo out of courage and bravery were flagellated in desert courts in public and some were killed in the worst possible way. The publicly physical torture, which was highly degrading for them, put an adverse effect on the minds of the viewers and triggered a sense of disgust and hatred among them. The Taliban’s arbitrary code was void of religious values and moral standards. Being plunged into painful sufferings, women had no options other than invoking the Lord for having their rights and dignity protected.
The Taliban fighters persisted in their militancy after the downfall of their regime as well. They sprayed corrosive acid on the faces of schoolgirls, targeted female MPs, teachers and police. The infinitesimal changes in villages forced a large proportion of female teachers and police to abandon their jobs.
Indeed, the establishment of democratic administration was not a panacea for the bleeding wounds of Afghan women since the Taliban depleted our social values through implanting dogmatic ideology in the minds of some individuals and continuing their insurgency. Moreover, they ushered in indiscriminate killings of men and women in public places. In a suicide attack on the streets, in educational centers or universities, you would be taken aback to see the streams of blood seeping from women’s wounds into the ground – such horrific episodes put a negative psychic impact on the public, especially on women and their activities shrank to a great extent.
Recently, the Taliban have intensified their attacks against Afghan nation and the graph of civilian casualties, including women, have increased exponentially. To put it succinctly, since the Taliban insurgents are restricting women’s social and political activities, through spilling their blood, they are still considered a paradigm of evil.
Besides combating terrorism, there is a great need for amending cultural values. Our culture should be based on moral standards and national and international laws. The violent practices in tribal belts have no legal basis. They trample upon women’s fundamental rights – rights to life, liberty and property – with impunity. In other words, the lurid reports about women in tribal areas make the headlines, frequently, on national media. Although Afghan women have sacrificed their lives to obtain freedom, it remained no more than a phantom in their minds and their selfless sacrifices did not bear the desired fruit.
Constitutionally, there is no prejudice against women on the basis of their sex and their rights and dignity should be respected and protected the same as men’s. Afghanistan’s Constitution states in article 22 as, “Any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.”
Similarly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which Afghanistan is committed to observe, declares, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” So, the government will have to empower women and uphold their rights and liberty through implementing law.
It is believed that Afghan women are not able to break the traditional taboos by their actions, which are embedded deeply in our society and will be ensued by death or reputational damage, but through raising their voice against violent practices. In addition, the civil society activists and the Human Rights’ Independent Commission are supposed to be the de facto advocates of women’s rights. Hence, Afghan women need a stable structure to exercise their inherent rights with a peace of mind. It is hoped that the state will evolve legal and democratic structure so as to protect women’s rights and dignity.