Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 21st, 2018

No End to Violence against Women

In the recent Brussels Summit it was reiterated by National Unity Government (NUG) that there would be serious efforts for the rights and protection of women in Afghanistan. However, there are many who fear that the situation regarding the rights, role and status of women in Afghanistan may further deteriorate.
It was not the first time that NUG made promises that it would consider the condition of women in Afghanistan seriously. On its beginning days, it had made many such ambitious promises but little could be seen from them practically. Human rights and, particularly, women rights organizations raised their voices during the Brussels Summit and demanded better efforts by Afghan government to change the scenario. International community also made it clear that the support and assistance to Afghanistan would largely depend on the endeavors that would be made by Afghan authorities regarding women rights. However, it has to be seen how Afghan authorities would make efforts in this regard.
Unfortunately, issues pertaining to women have been handled by the authorities in a hypocritical manner. They have been used to attract donor funding and treated on project-based manner. Some efforts are made only temporarily to show the donors that there are actions being taken but it is also ensured that the issues are not solved permanently; thus enabling the officials to keep on attracting donor funding.
As a matter of fact, the magnitude of work that has been done regarding the rights of women in Afghanistan is much less than the funds and resources that have been utilized. A cursory look at the condition of women in different parts of the country would reveal the whole story. Moreover, the incidents of violence and atrocities against women have kept on multiplying. Every now and then, there is an incident that shows the nature and frequency of violation of women rights and their subjugation by the male members of the society and the social norms and values.  
In a recent incident on Saturday, October 15, a man doused his 23-year-old wife in petrol before setting her on fire in Anjel district of Herat province. According to officials the incident took place only because the wife had an argument with the husband. Though the wife survived the incident, she is said to be in hospital in a serious condition. Many such incidents take place in different parts of the country and many of them are never brought to the attention of media and the relevant authorities.
There is a clear rise in incidents of violence against women. This is directly linked to the overall security situation. As the security situation in the country has deteriorated the weaker strata seem to be in trouble the most. There were no serious attention to their woes and now with rising insecurity, the authorities have more excuses for less attention to the issues of women. Women and many intellectuals believe that even if the security situation improves there will be serious challenges for women to earn a reputable position within Afghan society. Even if there is a peace deal with Taliban, there are fears that Afghan government may sacrifice some of the achievements that are made regarding the heightened role and position of women. Taliban have never been in favor of active role of women in social and political lives and one of their conditions for peace talks would be limiting their role as much as possible. Keeping the Afghan society in mind, the authorities may accept such a condition.   
Afghan social structure has been fervently dominated by religious extremism and tribal partiality. Most of the self-designed religious doctrines and tribal norms are against the women and discriminate their basic rights. Regrettably, these norms and principles have even gone to the extent of aggression and have tortured women physically – even in the public. They, in the name of dignity of women, have in reality dishonored them. Though they have been raising their voices every now and then but in the noise of male shrieks they seem to be negligible and get faded away. In fact, the male-chauvinistic ears are not ready to hear them though they feel their vibrations clearly. Nonetheless, the efforts in this regard must never be given up and they should continue in every possible way.
With such a situation existing around, it is really difficult to see development in condition of women who have been undergoing discriminations since ages. Afghan authorities and all the Afghan people, both women and men, must strive to change the scenario as it would help the society as a whole as women are an essential part of it.
We need to accept that women form an integral part of society and have an imperative role to play. Their representation and participation in different walks of life can help society develop suitably. They cannot be kept on being discriminated and violated without letting up, because it is not only non-religious but at the same time atrocious because above all women are human beings. Unfortunately, this evident fact has not been realized by many in Afghan society.