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Struggles and Abuses against Women in Afghanistan
The world is predominantly male dominated and as such being a woman can be challenging. However in some countries being a woman is far much worse than women in developed countries could ever visualize. Afghanistan is a country that has in the past been associated with a poor human rights record more so against women. This paper intends to discuss how women in the country are working hand in hand to alleviate women suffering and abuse by sensitizing for women’s rights.
Ever since the Taliban government in Afghanistan were toppled by the US and British forces during the War on Terror after the 9/11 attacks, the women situation in the country has significantly improved. Women rights activists in the country have played a pivotal role in enhancing women’s quality of life. Prior to the US and UK led War on Terror, girls were not allowed to attend school nor were women allowed to do any other work other than domestic chores (Raj, Gomez & Silverman, 2011). At present, millions of young Afghan girls attend school and are now highly hopeful of a bright future. Women are allowed to work and contribute in socioeconomic development activities as well as hold political office. Women now hold political office and work within the ranks of the country’s disciplined forces. By 2009, 29% of the Afghan parliamentary representatives were women and in the same years enacted law which criminalized violence against women (O’Donnell, 2014). It is referred to as the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women. Unfortunately, this law has to date been grossly under implemented.
According to UN report, violence against Afghan women increased by nearly 30% in 2013 while prosecutions against propagators of such crime increased by a disappointing 2% (O’Donnell, 2014). Almost 50% of women in Afghanistan prisons and more than 90% of girls in the country’s juvenile centers are incarcerated for moral crimes (O’Donnell, 2014). These girls and women sum to about 600 individuals and crimes committed range from running away from their homes to fornication. The truth of the matter is that most of these unfortunate women are victims of domestic violence and forced marriages causing them to run away from oppressive lifestyles (Raj, Gomez & Silverman, 2011).
According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, in 2013, alone violence against women increased by nearly 25% as compared to 2012 (O’Donnell, 2014). This is a vey big rise indicating that women have continued to suffer even as legislation criminalizing violence against women has been passed. It also implies that many Afghan women suffer domestic violence on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that most of these cases go unreported and in instances where such incidences are reported they remain in the shadows. This has led to many of them believing it is hopeless to attempt to seek justice.
Informal groups supporting women empowerment in Afghanistan are relatively few but there have been reports by affected individuals coming out in public or being rescued by the police from near death situation (Abu-Lughod, 2013). For instance, in remote parts of the country, especially in the largely Taliban stronghold of Kunduz, a women was rescued from stoning. She narrated to the BBC that after being divorced by her husband, her only option was to head back to her fathers house. The area was largely patrolled by the Taliban demanding for food, and in fear of reprisal from government forces she asked the Taliban to seek food at the mosque where they will avail them food (O’Donnell, 2014). This gave the Taliban a chance to condemn her for being a woman and exercising her right in attempting to protect her father’s house. The Taliban is said to use such avenues to terrorize residents and this got the woman to a near death situation. She was however rescued by the police after a two hour long fierce gun battle.
Traditional inclinations dearly held on to by the men of the Afghan society as well as in regions where the Taliban continue to terrorize inhabitants, violence against women continues to become ever more rampant. Women of Afghanistan have suffered under the previous Taliban government and more so continue to suffer even after their own democratically elected leaders are in power (Brodsky, Welsh, Carrillo, Talwar, Scheibler & Butler, 2011). It is unfortunate that these leaders only seek to moot laws and soon after fail to implement them.
The only way that women rights can be addressed in the country is through political will power from the government. Women are vital for the development of any economy. Afghanistan has suffered much in the past decades under oppressive Taliban rule. To realize economic development, it has to empower women and ensure girls get a good education. This can only be made possible through strong government input and political goodwill from the current leaders. The leaders should seek to invest more in funds for the implementation of laws enhancing the freedoms and rights of women and propel Afghanistan forward, away from the backward days of the Taliban.
Abu-Lughod, L. (2013). Do Muslim Women Need Saving?. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Brodsky, A. E., Welsh, E., Carrillo, A., Talwar, G., Scheibler, J., & Butler, T. (2011). Between synergy and conflict: Balancing the processes of organizational and individual resilience in an Afghan women’s community.American journal of community psychology, 47(3-4), 217-235.
O’Donnell, F. (2014). The struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Retrieved on June 23, 2014 from http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2014/03/07/the-struggle-for-womens-rights-in-afghanistan/
Raj, A., Gomez, C. S., & Silverman, J. G. (2011). Multisectorial Afghan perspectives on girl child marriage: Foundations for change do exist in Afghanistan. Violence against women, 1077801211403288.