It is really tragic to note that there has not been any stoppage to the incidents of violence against women in Afghanistan and every now and then we come across different news items that reveal the fact that violence against women is really getting very serious and if there are no immediate actions taken, the situation may get out of the hands. It is also vital to note that the incidents that are able to be highlighted in media are only a small percentage of the overall situation of violence against women in different parts of the country. There are many instances of violence against women in the remote areas of the country that never come out of the houses or the villages; they are born in closed houses, remain there in oblivion and die without anyone knowing about them. Or even if somebody comes to know about them, they think it wiser to keep them hidden.
One of the reasons that Afghan society has not been able to play any dominant role to counter violence against women is that the incidents that come to light are not pursued with true zeal and determination. The outcome is that the culprits easily run away from the justice and this gives the impression and the message that they can keep on doing what they do. If such cases are pursued properly and the culprits are brought to justice, there will be clear message for everyone to be careful while they intend to make a mistake of starting violence against women. However, it does not happen in Afghanistan and the result is that every day we listen heartbreaking news of different incidents of violence against women.
Yesterday it was reported that a man in the northern province of Balkh chopped off his wife’s ears and ran away. The wife, Zarina 21, who is undergoing treatment at Balkh Hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif, told that her husband cut off her ears in an act of domestic violence on Monday night. She said in a statement, “My husband always treats me badly. I wasn’t even allowed to visit my parents. He is a very suspicious man and often accused me of talking to strange men when I went to visit my parents.” Zarina called on Afghan legal and judicial institutions to arrest her husband and to ensure he is prosecuted.
Unfortunately, this incident is not first of its kind; there have been many instances wherein the husbands have chopped off the parts of the body of their wives in order to punish them for the alleged misdeeds. Unfortunately, they continue today and there are no strong measures in place to stop them. As a matter of fact, violence against women continue in different parts of the country in different forms and in some parts they seem to be on the rise even.
Helmand Women’s Affairs Directorate on Saturday said that they were concerned about a sharp increase in violence against women in the province due to rising insecurity, unwanted traditions and a lack of public awareness on women’s rights. According to the directorate, at least 20 cases of violence against women were registered last month, most of which included bad dadan – where girls and women are given to settle a dispute between families, often a blood dispute. Shogufa Anwari, a woman rights activist said that the level of violence against women had not been reduced in Helmand; rather, it had increased due to insecurity, and a large number of women had little access to women’s affairs services in government.
As a matter of fact, the 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.
On the other hand, 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. 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.