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

Women Identity Crisis: Root Factors of Violence in Modern Era


Women Identity Crisis:  Root Factors of Violence in Modern Era

In recent days, the issues of violence against women was one of the hot topic in the country. According to Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the physical abuse surged during the first 10 months of 2020 with as many as  1,241 incidents of physical torture while normal violence declined about 11 percent probably due to decrease in registration of violence because of quarantine measures after the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.  The repeated
experts’ advices or solutions included increasing public awareness, creating effective strategies to combat bad habits, providing women with employment opportunities and their economic empowerment, work opportunities at leadership level, hiring women prosecutors, judges and women lawyers, amending the law on Elimination of the Right of withdrawal in criminal cases and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to implement the law. Although AIHRC and other similar organizations have had a lot of fanfare in last two decades, the violence against violence against women have not changed yet due to superficial approach.
One of the very fundamental points which is not observed amidst experts issue list is women identity crisis. In fact, there is a dual views about women in Islamic world, including Afghanistan. Some interpreters of Islam think that the guardian or leader of families are men while others have more liberalistic approach stressing on equality between men and women. Some of them stress on justice between men and women while others emphasize on equality between the two genders.  Even,  if we look at the current national constitution of the country, we face the same problem. In fact, the national law has paradoxical position about women in Afghanistan. From one hand, the article three of the constitution stress on superiority of  Islamic law. On the other hand, it has ratified several international conventions such as CEDAW, CRC and so on without any preservative rights. So, if we compare the  Quranic source such as 34th verse of Sorah Nisa with provision of CEDAW, actually it is not compatible. Therefore, as long as, the national law and national lawyers do not reach a clear calculation about it, the power conflicts between men and women would be continued between the two genders inside family, in judiciary system and also between traditionalist and modernist groups of the people.
In the other world, the traditional Afghan men expect women to obey them as leader of family while women reversely expect them to treat from equal position based on liberalist values. Unfortunately, the dual interpretations from the ruling law have also complicated the issue. The women rights’ organizations and women rights activist groups do not seek to provide fundamental solution to this issues. They always highlight the rights of women but obscure the duties of women belittling that the rights and duties are an inseparable phenomenon. They propose some of solutions which are not fully applicable in the context of Afghanistan’s culture. The women economic growth, awareness and even scientific power without building their personality, ethics, social or family skills and also without defining their legal or cultural position inside and outside the family, will not lead to ideal solutions. Ideally, it may seems naïve but there is no consensus about Islamic model of women. Therefore, the women awareness without women duties and identities will not resolve the problem but also increase as we saw in last two decades.
Given the globalization process and given the lack of solitary interpretation from Islamic teachings, the women issue is not likely to be easily resolved in Muslim countries including Afghanistan while the women enlightenment and women educational level plays important in their personal expectation. If we look back in the history of the country, we hardly find any educational centers under name of women but now millions of girls and women are graduating from lower and higher educational programs with different world view and expectations. If we fail to create a moderate and acceptable identity for this generation, neither they are ready to easily change their mind nor the universal culture or new values are stoppable. If the Muslim world, especially Afghan scholars do not move to provide a moderate and solitary interpretation from Islam, the cultural crisis will not be ended in the country. Undoubtedly, there are many factors behind extremism, terrorism and violence against women, but we must confess that the current turbulent cultural and political conditions of the Islamic world are proper grounds for abuses, especially for those opportunist who are trying to trouble the water to fish in.
As initially implied, there are various economic, social, cultural and political factors that hinder the growth of women in Afghanistan, but the women identity crisis seems to be at center of all those issues and so the superficial dose of solution will not resolve the issues. as initial step towards resolving women identity crisis, we need to choose a moderate way for every issues including women issue. From one hand, the women and feminist groups must realize that the women rights and duties are an inseparable phenomenon. Instead of focusing on merely women rights which already increased family violence, we should also promote women ethics, communication skills, house management skills and overall clearly define their role and position in framework of domestic culture. 
On the other side, the  traditionalist groups of our country must familiarize themselves with demand of time. Today, the participation of women are considered as symbol of development. Wherever, the liberation and participation of women have been institutionalized, they have achieved multilateral development in most areas. the participation of women in society not only contributes to the growth and development of the country, but also helps strengthen women’s national solidarity and prevents a kind of alienation and separation of women from society. Therefore, the social presence of women and gaining their social status must not be a major challenge any more.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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