Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, December 15th, 2017

Kabul and a Women’s Garden

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Kabul and a Women’s Garden

There are many states with manifold cities in the world, however, there are some countries in need of open spaces for women. Kabul is a city in dire need of open space for women to meander without being watched by lustful eyes. A number of men deem it a certain right to watch women’s body for pleasure. Sometimes, they murmur some words while observing women, the pain of which will be felt only by women.
Jane Jacobs a great theorist about city says that a city street equipped to handle strangers, and to make a safety asset, in itself, our of the presence of strangers, as the streets of successful city neighborhoods always do, must have three main qualities: First, there must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.
Second, there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street. They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind.
Third, she says that the sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers. According to Jane Jacobs, nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window at an empty street. Almost nobody does such a thing. Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on, by watching street activity.
Jane Jacob, who is also the author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” says that in order for a street to be a safe place, “there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street.” She believes that adding more police presence will not make streets safer, because it does not address the root problem nor tap into the real power of making them safer. Adding police officers adds an artificial sense of safety. The real way a street is made safer is from an unconscious effort of its own residents and other occupants. The streets that are the safest are the ones where the occupants police the street on their own, not necessarily with conscious effort, but while going about their daily business. While they are walking the sidewalks, people tend to keep an eye on things. Streets where people do not use their sidewalks, such as in neighborhoods where people do not socialize with their neighbors, are those where crime is invited. The criminals know the streets where no one keeps a watch on the neighborhood, and those are the ones they target.
It is wished that the “eyes upon the street” would exist in Afghanistan so as to prevent from unusual and uncontrolled behaviors of some individuals. The terms of “eyes upon the street” would be better used for those men who know no boundaries and seeking to realize each and every thing about others. It is easily noticeable on streets. Those women who walk on the street feel as if they watched through magnifying glass. For instance, when a woman stands on the corner of a street waiting for someone, all eyes will be focused on her. They will follow who meet her and what they talk about.
In such a case, a space like Women’s Garden, where women can walk without being watched with scrutiny, will be a great asset. One will ask that how the women who call for equality deem this Garden as asset! It is because men narrowed public places for women due to their inappropriate behaviors. Mostly, women were not able to meander freely. Take, Babur Garden, for example. Both men and women are allowed to walk in but a woman does not dare walk alone there.
The places like Women’s Garden in Kabul is highly suitable. In this case, no men have been deprived of their rights. As women’s freedoms have been curtailed in public places, their rights there is also discrimination in utilizing public places. So, there is a need for places to be used by women.
Such atmospheres will support women to regain their identity outside home and feel independence. They have the right to live or walk far from masculine atmosphere and pass time freely and with peace of mind.

Experiencing a safe atmosphere is highly significant for us. There are many women in Kabul who do not go out from the four walls of home for days and months. Afghan women encounter much restriction and lack of safe places also restrict their freedom and force them stay at home. Therefore, they tend not to walk a lot. The places like Women’s Garden will help women experience public places. In Afghanistan, restaurants and cafés are also considered for men. Although there are specific spaces for families, still there seems barriers before families. To conclude, the places like Women’s Garden will give a peace of mind to women.

Fatima Faizi is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. She can be reached at the outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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