Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Public Attitudes Towards Women

Women’s rights and freedoms were a contentious issue in Afghanistan and violence against women continued in the post-Taliban administration. Women were susceptible to violence rooted in social and cultural tradition as well as public mindset. Women’s empowerment programs and awareness projects to eliminate discriminatory code of conduct could not bear the desired result.
Generally speaking, there have been three main attitudes towards women in Afghanistan. First, radical perspective towards women held strong sway, mainly in Pashtun-dominated areas, and women were restricted within the four walls. They were deemed inferior for decades, this mindset still prevails in tribal areas. Women have been punished in desert courts and tribal elders tried to resolve cases regarding women without referring to legal courts. The Taliban members were largely involved in such issues and sought to impose further restrictions on women since their rights and freedoms were irreconcilable with their fundamental ideology and radical interpretation of Islamic tenets. Worst, the Taliban assassinated female politicians and sought to restrict their social and political activities.
Second, a number of Afghan men held moderate perspective regarding women’s rights and freedoms and neither opposed girls’ education nor their social and political activities. They supported women to involve in social, cultural, political, and economic activities and work with men shoulder by shoulder. Women’s rights discourse in the post-Taliban Afghanistan could not create sensitivity for them. They viewed it as opportunity and supported women with their education and activities.
The third group viewed women from a liberal lens without considering the social and cultural norms of the country. They sought to liberate women from cultural norms. In other words, the supporters of liberal mindset put the country’s culture under question and disregarded religious values.
It is self-explanatory that women’s rights and liberties had many ups and downs throughout the history in Afghanistan and in some cases, there were one-step-forward and two-step-backward movements regarding women’s rights. Women bore the brunt of fundamental ideologies and practices within the last few decades. Domestic violence and social harassment were rife in the country. Women’s paid heavily as a result of men’s radical attitude. Without having parts in conflict, Afghan women suffered the consequences of civil unrest and political upheaval. In other words, fundamental mindset inflicted heavy pain and suffering on women for decades.
On the other hand, liberal attitude towards women without considering the cultural context triggered public backlash. For instance, King Amanullah Khan’s liberal movement outraged the collective conscience in the country and sparked strong reaction from the public, which led to the collapse of his regime. A number of people, including religious circles, excommunicated Amanullah Khan and mobilized public opposition against him.
Since women suffered severely as a result of radical mindset and misogynistic view towards them, violence strongly roots in fundamental ideology. If women’s rights and freedoms are enlightened for people and awareness is spread, violence is likely to be decreased. Those who hold radical views towards women are more aggressive and violent. They expect women’s to be subject to their views and orders. For instance, the Taliban, who practice upon misogynistic view, spill the blood of women without an iota of mercy or guilt. They punish women in desert courts and restrict their social and political activities through the means of force. They also deprive women of getting education. 
To eliminate violence against women, public perspective has to be changed regarding women so that there be no room for gender discrimination. The rights and freedoms of women have to be pointed out thoroughly with consideration to the cultural and religious context of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, religious scholars have to interpret women’s rights moderately and in reconciliation with modern needs. They should leave no room for ideological or fundamental interpretation of religious tenets about women’s rights and freedoms, which are rife among the Taliban. After all, religious scholars should try to eliminate the social custom vis-à-vis women which are contradictory to religious values and moderate cultural norms.
Talibanic view about women should come to an end. Women have to be supported. To decrease the level of violence against women, the government has to enforce the law properly and bring the perpetrators to justice. In short, the violators of women’s rights should be prosecuted and the government has to support awareness and empowerment programs about women.
Similarly, people have to respect women’s rights and the law in this regard. Women, who are mothers, sisters, daughters, and life-partners in the society, deserve to be respected.