Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, December 14th, 2017

The Susceptibility of Afghan Women to Persistent Violence

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The Susceptibility of Afghan Women to Persistent Violence

The sufferings of Afghan women continue unabated despite the establishment of a democratic administration following the fall of the Taliban’s regime. Their rights and freedoms are violated to a great extent. Still, a number of individuals deny the constructive role of women in the society and treat them with humiliation. They only see women’s charm and attraction out of sexual desire rather than their personality. Ironically, those who claim honor and dignity for their own families, show no respect to the family of others. The wicked milieu leaves no room for trust between men and women in the society, which is a great tragedy.
The reports about dishonoring the women whose spouses were killed for the protection of national values and nation’s rights and dignity is a strong blow to national fame. US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko has said that some widows of Afghan National Security Force members killed in action were forced to perform sexual favors for officials before they could obtain pension benefits. The report about the disgraceful deeds of officials, which reflects moral, has outraged the conscience of Afghan nation. Such anti-religious and anti-moral practices in a religious society will numb one’s feelings and senses. The blood of those widows’ husbands were shed in defense of humans and humanity, but they were unaware of the fact that no sense of humanity will be shown to their families. After yielding to men’s sexual urges for feeding their children, those widows are most likely to be called “prostitutes”.
In the post-Taliban Afghanistan, the rights of Afghan women were debated hotly. Although they were entitled equally in Afghanistan’s Constitution, they remain susceptible to social ills, domestic violence, and gender discrimination. For instance, mutilated face of an Afghan woman Aisha, appeared on the cover of Time magazine in summer 2010. The 18-year-old was mutilated by her husband who cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away. This was not the end of the sufferings of Afghan women, but they were, more or less, treated similarly. The noses or lips of some other women were also sliced mercilessly or they were tortured in the worst possible way.
If the spate of violent acts towards Afghan women continue, public view about violence against women will be desensitized with the passage of time. In fact, showing sensitivity only towards sexual harassment is not going to reduce violence. It is believed that mental or physical torture is as wicked as sexual harassment. However, it is really surprising to see that physical or mental torture does not trigger as much sensitivity as sexual harassment despite the fact that both are strongly prohibited by religion. I believe that lynching the 27-year-old woman Farkhunda on March 19, 2015 in Kabul was no less disgraceful than harassing one sexually. 
Our traditional custom and patriarchal system which hold strong sway in tribal belts have desensitized violence against women. The worst possible violence against women such as stoning them to death or flagellating them before the eyes of people, without legal prosecution, take place in the Taliban-dominated areas. The Taliban also shelter the men who commit honor-killings or torture their spouses.
To think realistically, the nascent democracy could not protect the rights and dignity of Afghan women. Regardless of misogynistic views and traditional culture, moral turpitude is also widespread in the country and women – besides children – are one of the casualties. Hence, SIGAR’s recent report unravels the vulnerability of Afghan women to moral corruption.  
We live in a society where only women are advised to protect their nobility and honor. Women are stigmatized or called brazen by simply laughing on the streets, whereas men’s reputation remains formidable despite their engagement in sexual harassment. Similarly, cultural restrictions are imposed only on women, mainly in villages. The fact is that nobility and moral values are necessary for a society and all individuals, regardless of their gender.
It is aptly said, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.”

In the era of human rights discourse, we have to respect the rights and dignity of both men and women – who are born free and equal. The government will have to empower Afghan women and adopt an effective mechanism to stop the interminable violence against them. Moreover, those who are involved in violation of women’s rights, must be prosecuted fairly, or else this trend will continue. Indeed, the susceptibility of Afghan women to discrimination, injustice, and patriarchal attitude is a great cause for concern.

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

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