Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

Women’s Dignity

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Women’s Dignity

‘Nothing and no one else in this world deserves to see even the nails of the feet of a girl. Nakedness is a disease of our time. I am old and my words might sound funny. But me, your naked body must belong to one who loves face your soul,’ these words have been spoken by a popular British Comedian Charlie Chaplin to her daughter, an actress.
Women suffered painfully throughout the history. Their honor was blackened and their freedoms were curtailed. Women were treated as pariahs and believed to be an inferior creature on the grounds of their sexual orientations. Their social, cultural and political roles were denied. In other words, cultural restrictions and parochial view regarding women marginalized them from social life. They were deemed to satiate men’s carnal desire.
The discourse, in modern world, regarding women’s rights and liberty sought to free women from traditional structure. Their rights were politicized and debated hotly around the globe and in international instruments. Modern world nurtures secular view about women. According to international instruments, men and women are entitled equally. Both were born free with inherent rights and dignity and should be able to exercise their rights without social, cultural and political barriers. Women’s biological, mental and emotional differences with men will not outweigh their rights. They are equal on the basis of being human and are not allowed to be discriminated for their sexual orientation.
Secular views about women’s rights triggered sensitivity in traditional societies, mainly among religious figures. The rift between secular and religious views are growing wider. Traditional structures still resist against secular outlook on women. Cultural barriers hamper women’s social and political role in closed structures, including Afghanistan. For instance, although Afghan Constitution is approved on the basis of democratic view and entitles men and women equally, traditional and patriarchal mindsets hold strong sway in villages. Additionally, some traditional figures, who gained high positions in the government’s body, hardly tolerate women beside them. Similarly, tribal councils and local elders play key role regarding women’s issues and pay no heed to national laws. Desert courts, in which women are punished, has no legal basis but carried out in accord with local decisions and elders’ decree. Hence, women are still prone to traditional practices and patriarchal mentalities.
On the other hand, the secular view tends to free women not only from traditional and religious restrictions but also from moral values. Under the pretext of modern discourse, women’s rights and dignity have been trampled upon and their charm and beauty are used for advertising gimmicks. In modern world, women’s role is salient in Hollywood and Bollywood. Their motherly role is in decline and their dignity is overlooked. They are paid to cross the red line through playing immoral and anti-moral scenes. Nakedness and moral corruption are widespread in our era. Secularists are likely to bestow women absolute freedom. Charlie aptly says that “nakedness is a disease of our time.” This disease is infectious and grows rapidly across the world. Women are used and treated as object in social life. Their sisterhood and motherly sanctity are ignored. In short, the form of women’s exploitation has been changed in modern world.
This radically secular view about women is believed to create fundamental groups who deny women’s social and political role and discriminate them on the grounds of their sex. For example, religious fundamentalists in Islamic societies such as the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, etc. oppose secular views and cherish highly radical mindset vis-à-vis women’s rights. They target women for two main reasons: first, believe that women’s social role in society lead to corruption. Second, women are targeted in case of not being covered according to their definition of dressing.
Radicalism – be it secular or religious – will create challenges. The rights and liberty of mankind have their legal and ethical borders and there is no absolute freedom. Women’s dignity must be respected, if not on the basis of religion, based on ethical code. Neither of the roles, i.e. their motherly and social roles, should outweigh each other.
Indeed, there is no issue of superiority between men and women. Both men and women were born with fundamental rights and dignity. Women in the world in general and Afghan women in particular should be held in respect and able to exercise their rights without fear and barriers. In brief, women’s social and political role is really significant in human societies. Women form the half population of the world and their role is instrumental in societies’ progress. We have to treat them with respect and uphold their rights, which have been violated throughout the history. No stereotypes, misogynistic views and patriarchal systems are acceptable.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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