Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Afghan Women Continue their Endeavors

Though the discriminatory behavior against women in Afghanistan still looms large and there are different incidents of violence against them as well, some among them have been able to rise against the challenges and show the society that they are no way inferior in qualities and capabilities. The male-dominated and male-favoring circumstances have narrowed down the room for them to perform, but they have kept on showing that if they are provided appropriate circumstances they may prove to be very positive members of the society and can, in fact, play a decisive role in its development.
Afghan women have even proved themselves in the fields that are not thought to be for women in Afghan society. They have proved themselves in different sports events. They take part in politics and some among them are heading different organizations within the country. And, they have shown their talents in music as well, which is even considered inappropriate for Afghan men to listen to or to take part in. There are many Afghan female singers who have proved to the country and even internationally that they have extra-ordinary talent.
Afghan women who are in music are thought to be ‘characterless’ and most of the society members machinate both intentionally and unintentionally that they should be discouraged as much as possible. There are different rumors and fake stories about different Afghan female singers who are famous nowadays. Mostly, these stories are about their affairs which they have never had. Unfortunately, most of the people never try to investigate about such stories and play a part in further promulgating them.
Apart from singing, even if a girl or woman tries to use or play any musical instrument, there are many who start doubting her character and consider her awkward and sinful. Even her own family members stand against her and suggest or even threaten her to leave the ‘sinful’ task. There is an interesting case study in this regard and that is of Negin Khpalwak.
Negin Khpalwak, a 19 year old Afghan girl from south-east Afghanistan, is the leader of Afghanistan National Institute of Music’s (ANIM) all-female orchestra, Zohra, which is first of its kind in the country. She is the senior conductor of the 35-piece orchestra that plays traditional Afghan and western instruments and is about to begin international performances.
However, Negin had to face different sorts of threats to reach to this position. She had started playing music during the reign of Taliban when there was a complete ban over such activities. She, however, continued her work secretly, even from her family members. Finally, she decided to reveal her secret to her father, who, astonishingly, favored her and supported her to continue her skill. The other family members and relatives, however, were not impressed by her passion and stood against her intentions. They did not allow even the male members of the society to play music so how could they accept her. So, she decided to leave her village and travel to Kabul. She, now, leaves in an orphanage in Kabul but enthusiastically follows her passion for music. Even now she feels insecure in many ways. She cannot visit her village because recently when she did so, she was threatened to be killed because she had appeared in a television show, wherein she had led the orchestra. Nevertheless, she is determined and recently said in an interview, "I will never accept defeat… I will continue to play music. I do not feel safe, but when people see me and say, 'That is Negin Khpalwak', that gives me energy."
The achievement by Negin is really huge, considering the status of women in the Afghanistan and the behavior of society towards them. Nevertheless, it is a crystal clear fact that Afghanistan, like any other country, has many talented women who can play their role in earning a respectable name for the country and introducing the necessary positive changes within the society. Unfortunately, the circumstances and the misconducts of our political and so-called religious leaders have made the situation unsuitable for such individuals and they are not able to utilize their talents and help themselves and their society appropriately.
It is really important that government takes tangible measures against the discriminatory ideas and behavior against women. Government can prove to be a hope for the women. If it itself encourages the intentions that may undermine the rights of women, it would be very difficult to expect the same from common people.
Moreover, the international community in this regard can also play an important role. Though it has mentioned on almost all the important occasions that human rights, especially women rights, have to be given top priority by the Afghan government if it wills to have the support of major countries, it has not been able to convene practical, comprehensive and consistent strategy regarding the issue.
By looking at Negin’s case, it is easy to accept that if given their due rights, Afghan women have all the potential and prudence to inspire the world with their abilities and prove that they are not inferior to men at all.