Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

The Nonstop Cycle of Children’s Sufferings

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The Nonstop Cycle of Children’s Sufferings

Violation of children’s rights is widespread in Afghanistan. Their susceptibility to domestic violence, terrorism, etc. is outrageous. Afghan children undergo great sufferings in one way or another and their pain and anguish continue unabated. Their dream of a prosperous future fall by the wayside. No remedy for their problem is in the horizon.
Decades of war and violence in Afghanistan did not only inflict heavy casualties upon Afghan children but also left them at the mercy of social, economic and political issues. Children are engaged in backbreaking chores, affected by social ills, and killed in terrorist activities in the country. A considerable number of children are supposed to labor from the break of dawn to the fall of dusk to earn a morsel of bread for their families. They take the desire of going to school to the grave with them. That is to say, pain is the twin brother of Afghan children.
Female children are more vulnerable in Afghan society. First, they are treated with discrimination, on the grounds of their gender, both in private and social atmosphere. The misogynistic view regarding women continues in the patriarchal society of Afghanistan, particularly in tribal belts. Female children are confined within cultural barriers and traditional custom. After all, they are still the casualty of their brothers’ crime. For instance, when their brothers violate the honor of a girl or woman in their areas, the tribal council – which holds strong sway in remote areas of Afghanistan – will decide to bestow a girl from the perpetrator’s family to the victim’s so as to compensate for the loss of honor. Similarly, some fathers who are not able to pay their debt, simply give their daughters in return for the money they owe. On the other hand, forced and under-aged marriages prevail in many parts of the country. Moreover, female children are susceptible to sexual harassment and rape, which occurs repeatedly across the country. The strong superstitions and harsh practices regarding female children portray that as if people live in the age of stone.
Terrorism also threatens the life of Afghan children in some ways. For example, the Taliban militants recruit children to fight against the government. They either succumb to financial support or threatened to join the Taliban. On the other side, scores of Afghan children lose their lives in terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. The militant fighters disregard the international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights. They target people indiscriminately. According to a report recently released by the Human Rights Independent Commission, 10,608 people were killed and wounded in 1395 Afghan calendar that included 2,980 children. The Taliban were 61.2 per cent responsible for the last year’s civilian casualties.
The sufferings sustained by Afghan children will put democracy under question. Afghan government made commitment to support children and form a civil society void of violence. Afghanistan’s Constitution states in article 54, “…The state shall adopt necessary measures to attain the physical and spiritual health of the family, especially of the child and mother, upbringing of children, as well as the elimination of related traditions contrary to the principles of the sacred religion of Islam.” Moreover, national law has forbidden forced labor and marriages.
On the other hand, crime is deemed a personal act in the constitution as article 26 says, “Crime is a personal act. Investigation, arrest and detention of an accused as well as penalty execution shall not incriminate another person.”
It is believed that traditional custom contrary to Islamic sharia is one of the main reason behind children’s sufferings in the country. Forced marriages or labor is not only against law but also against Islamic tenets. In the same way, one is supposed to be the casualty of another’s crime neither in national law nor in Islamic sharia. But all these issues are being practiced widely in the country which is a matter of great concern.
In addition to suffering physically, Afghan children also suffer mentally and spiritually. They are vulnerable to social ills and moral turpitude in the society. In other words, when children are socialized in unhealthy atmosphere – whether in the family or with their street playmates – they will nurture the same attitude. The morally negative TV programs will put an adverse effect on children. They will be spoiled through copying the same behavioral pattern. Thus, their parents and school teachers need to monitor their behaviors and guide them to the right way.
To protect the rights of children, the government must implement the law strictly and prosecute the violators of their rights. Second, the state should provide them with social, and economic facilities so that they do not show tendency towards moral turpitude or war and violence such as joining the Taliban militants. Indeed, if the rights and dignity of children are disregarded, the society will be pushed towards social and political turbulence. Thus, this issue should be taken serious.

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

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