Majority of Afghanistan’s nationalities profess Islam as their religion. Originally Islam religion regards men more superior than women in every aspect of life. Due to civilization across the world, Islam reformed and some of its doctrines were changes in favor of women. Equality among human beings was included in Islam, regarding men and women equal in various ways. Since then Islam women acquired different rights that allow them to choose marriage partners, inherit, vote and work among other rights. In Afghanistan, women have experienced continued denial of such rights despite acceptance according to Islam doctrines (Mittra and Kunar 267). Fathers, husbands, brothers and government decrees are some of the factors that hinder women from enjoying their human rights in Afghanistan.
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Most of these restrictions were rampant during rule of Taliban who forced Afghan women to abandon their decent jobs such as teaching and remain indoors or when outside they ought to be in a man’s escort. Since 2001, a new era began with end of Taliban reign; an improvement was recorded in regard to cultural and political position of women in Afghan. Human rights accepted under Islam law, so far are practiced in various parts of Afghan though in rural and remote areas many population regard women unequal (Zama and Sifton 25). For instance, cases of forced marriages, death threats due education matters and denial of chance to participate or enjoy public life are recordable according to research. Inequality and repressiveness of women in Afghanistan can be further be illustrated by statistics that show 75% of women are forced into marriages, 87% of women are illiterate, 33% of women experience sexual violence or physical assault, in every 30 minutes death occurs in relation to child birth and only 30% of girls access education in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan remains one of many Islamic regions where women are denied their rights and freedom. Despite acceptance by Islam Laws and governmental regulations and policies to uphold Afghan woman’s rights throughout in Afghanistan, many Islamic men have continued to oppress women. Most of women’s rights have been upheld following intense campaigns by human rights activities from Afghan and other parts of the world (Thomsen 227). Also government efforts have helped in promoting equality by criminalizing oppression of women despite their originality and religion. Most of these changes are focused on matters that concern education, marriage and public life. In literature review section of this research, rights of Afghan’s woman in regard to freedom of live, dressing, education, marriage and expression will be discussed. Recommendations and conclusion will follow this discussion as part of this research work.
Currently, Afghanistan is undergoing reconstruction after many years of war and reign of Taliban. During 1995-2001, Afghan remained under dictatorial leadership by Taliban who encouraged oppression of women and girls through out Afghan. Taliban’s brutality was to extent of denying women a chance to communicate with other women apart from family members. In most cases, women remained locked in their houses with small dark windows hence disallowing public intermingling. According to research, an Afghan woman could only walk to public with a company of a male counterpart who was supposed to be of the family (OsmaÅ„czyk and Mango 2708). These men act as a barrier to communication and information flow among women and men in public. Information could only be acquired from husbands, brothers and fathers who also were women oppressors according to Taliban’s regulations. Harsh circumstances under which afghan women lived in were not conducive for effective communication. Women associations that encourage information sharing in regard to social affairs are not allowed in most parts of Afghanistan. Information flow from one Woman to another is difficult in such situations hence hindering effective communication. As much as right of expression is among rights upheld by Afghan government, many women are denied such rights by men close in their lives.
Woman’s opinion is regarded inferior and a chance to speak out is not availed to many women willing to do so. Rising of voices is made difficult due to widespread of discrimination against female gender in other major areas that contribute towards information flow. Lack of education for girl-child is a major hindrance to free flow of information. Many Afghan women can only converse in their vernacular languages due to illiteracy (Mittra and Kunar 143). Lack of access to education continues to pin many women down in decision making even those concerning their own plight. Lack of ideas coupled with fear is a key factor that makes Afghan women lag behind in raising their voices beyond their homestead.
Freedom of communication by women is also prevented their lack of voting freedom. Many women are hindered fro acquiring voting cards to prevent them from taking part in political decisions. Instances of murder of electoral commissioners who tried to register women for voting processes show how far brutalism and discrimination against women has extended in Afghanistan (Thomsen 270). Such situations block women’s effort to communicate their views in regard to type of governance they want. Similarly, women candidates can not be enrolled easily for similar positions to those held by men due to repression in association to voting rights. Women representatives in other parts of the world represent other women opinions therefore ensuring plight of female gender is communicated to authorities. In Afghan such chances are not provided hence continued lack of communication freedom.
Additionally, lack of media freedom is another obstacle that contributes to communication problems in Afghanistan. Widespread violence coupled with political wrangles in Afghanistan prevents media efforts in steering women in fighting for their rights by speaking out loud. For instance, many journalists have been killed including and others such as Kambakhsh imprisoned for exercising their expression rights (Afkhami 179). Such situations leave women threatened and in fear of going against their male counterparts hence remain silent and oppressed. A country without freedom of expression by non-Taliban has efforts by women to communicate their views to governing bodies. Such strictness by rulers and men in the society has hindered efforts for free communication among women and men.
This situation is changing as women with the support of their men, actively create awareness in regard to human equality across Afghanistan. Formation of RAWA in 1977 was an effort to eradicate violence against women and air their voices to the world. RAWA is an organization established by women and its goal is to promote Afghan women rights (Silkenat and Shulman 64). The organization major objective is to create awareness throughout Afghanistan concerning plight of girl-child and women. It also aims at reaching as many women as possible by communicating benefits of treating women with equality. Organization airs women’s voices through conferences, public campaigns, internet and demonstrations. RAWA efforts have been realized over the years though right of expression by Afghan women is yet to be gained fully.
Freedom of women and girls lives
Since the seizure of power by the Taliban in Afghanistan, over 9 million women and girls have been denied basic human rights. This government has imposed laws against women citing religious purity while in the real sense it is persecution against women. For instance, Afghan women are not allowed to either go to school or work away from home a move which has led to closure of several schools owing to shortage of teaching staff as prior to the invasion of the Taliban about 70% of the teaching fraternity comprised of women (Afkhami 201). Devastating effects have been advanced towards widowed women who were the only source of livelihood for their families. In case women and girls want to leave their homes, then they must be escorted by a male relative. A whole body covering known as burqa must be worn. Instances of killings and beatings of the women have been witnessed due to failure of the women to be fully covered or escorted. Specific aspects of life on which Afghan women are oppressed and to be discussed under this heading include education, marriage and dressing
A large percentage of women in Afghanistan are illiterate due to banning of schooling for all women and successive wars in the nation had completely paralyzed the Education system. During the reign of the Taliban, community schools were opened and ran by women where girls were taught literacy skills, numeracy skills and such like subjects as Biology, English, cooking, and knitting (Zama and Sifton 27). Unfortunately instances of torture and killings of women teachers by the Taliban were witnessed. After the overthrow of the Taliban administration, substantial aid was advanced to the Karzai administration in order to restore the girl-child education. Lack of funding poses major setbacks to girl-child education with many girls opting to drop out as the facilities are not conducive. For instance, the learning facilities under unprotected structures like tents.
Lack of women teachers’ means that majority of the girls do not attend school as their parents fail to place the care of the girls under men teachers. Since most of the girls schools were destroyed during the Taliban administration, girls and boys learn in the same facilities: a move which has caused massive criticism especially from high ranking government officials (Thomsen 184). This largely translates to discrimination and lack of freedom. Several Afghanistan women have consistently risked their lives by running clandestine schools for the women population. From 2001, Education facilities have recorded increased numbers of female students though persistent attacks by the Taliban as well as other forces present in the area continue to demean the progress achieved in the female Education sector. Cases girls dropping from schools before completing primary level education have been witnessed due to early marriages and family obligations
The Afghanistan women have continually suffered turmoil especially in the type of dressing they are supposed to constantly wear. A specialty made traditional garment known as “the Burqa” which covers the whole body with a small grind for seeing and breathing must be worn by the women. The Burqa is extremely uncomfortable especially during hot weather (Silkenat and Shulman 58). The excessive covering may instigate illnesses such as asthma due to the discomfort of the dress as dust sticks thus enhancing dampness during breathing. The visibility of the wearer is largely limited as the size of the mesh opening does not provide adequate perceptibility. Afghanistan women claim that when they are wearing the burqa, total invisibility is exuded. It is impossible to know the kind of emotion displayed by a woman during normal conversation.
In this patriarchal society, decisions are largely made by men fraternity. Women do not have the freedom to choose their marriage partners. Arranged marriages are largely advanced in this country based on economic and political reasons. Instances of girls being engaged before they are born are widespread (Zama and Sifton 54). The authority of who should marry a girl lies with the father who can opt to wed his daughter to a person who may be very old but rich. In areas badly hit by poverty, girls are sold off or exchanged for meals. Women are treated as properties as once the marriage contract is signed the girl cannot marry another man. In case she dies a suitable replacement must be offered. Violent cases have resulted when multiple betrothing is done so as to collect dowry from several men. Dowry payment is regarded as compensation for the care and upbringing of the bride. A married Afghanistan woman is controlled by the mother-in-law who makes such critical decisions on her behalf as whether to attend hospital or not and the activities to undertake (Thomsen 130). Women do not receive custody of children in case of a divorce. Though obtaining a divorce is largely difficult for women who are in abusive marriages, the divorced Afghanistan women are regarded as outcasts especially due to the Islamic beliefs and traditions.
Afghan women should fight for a chance to speak out and join others international women who are fighting against women oppression. By communicating their views to their spouses, brothers and the public will be a major start step towards their social life improvement. Freedom of expression is known as an effective tool for resistance against practices that oppress women. Lack of such freedom, means Afghan women may continue to tolerate discrimination by men under religious grounds which are used for personal political benefit. Social oppression can be overcome through speaking out in any context cultural, political or religious. Granting of women rights in education, employment , leadership and other roles in public life come as a primarily result of women expression against discrimination. Opening of communication channels in Afghanistan is a basic step in eliminating injustices that surround lives of many women and girls.
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Of importance is the right to vote, that has been used by many countries in defining future of women in those countries. I recommend Afghan women to retain and utilize their rights to vote intelligently as it is part of decision making. Through voting women elect leaders in support of their rights therefore acquiring access to equal opportunities similar to those awarded to men. Continued efforts by women by speaking out, eventually leads to liberation of girls and women from oppressive societal rules. Again, society starts to appreciate need to uphold plight of women and girls hence creating a balanced society that pays attention to both genders.
International community should offer greater support to women organizations working with minority women at the grass roots. Awareness creations through educational programs are essential effort towards liberation of Afghan women from social, cultural, religious and political injustices in Afghanistan. International support through funding and enlightenment of few educated afghan women should be upheld as away of developing strong women leaders in Afghanistan.
In conclusion, Afghanistan is a region known for oppression of women and girls in various aspects of life. Existence of connection between Islam and governance of Afghans facilitates dehumanization among Afghan women. Most life rights and expression freedom are denied to female gender despite acceptance by Islam doctrines. Afghan constitutional rights are not upheld due lack of commitment by authorities concerned and political instabilities hence impacting on women by denying them their legal and human rights. International intervention has calmed Afghanistan human situation but majority of Afghan women and girls remain discriminated and repressed.
Afkhami, Mahnaz. Faith and freedom: women’s human rights in the Muslim world. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995.
Mittra, Sangh and Kunar, Bachchan. Encyclopaedia of Women in South Asia: Afghanistan. New Delhi, India: Gyan Publishing House, 2004
OsmaÅ„czyk, Edmund and Mango, Anthony. Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements: T to Z. London, UK: Taylor & Francis Press, 2003
Silkenat, James and Shulman, Mark. The imperial presidency and the consequences of 9/11: lawyers react to the global war on terrorism. Westport, U.S.A: Greenwood Publishing Group. 2007
Thomsen, Natasha. Women’s rights. New York. U.S.A: Facts On File publisher, 2007
Zama, Coursen-Neff and Sifton, John. We want to live as humans”: repression of women and girls in western Afghanistan. Washington, D.C: Human Rights Watch, 2002
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