Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 18th, 2019

Violence Against Women Persists

The condition of women in Afghanistan does not seem to be improving though there have been many promises and commitments to change the scenario. As the country has been largely influenced by insecurity and instability, people in general and women in particular, have suffered to a great extent. They have been targeted both by parochial social thoughts and extremist religious beliefs. And, the issue is not only the violation of their rights and negation of their true status in society but also the growing violence against them. Unfortunately, there are no concrete measures planned or taken by the authorities to tackle the situation.
A recent news report highlighted that forty cases of violence against women have been registered in the past two months in eastern Nangarhar province, alone. This was stated by provincial women’s affairs director Anisa Omrani at a monthly gathering on preventing violence against women. She revealed that 10 women were sent to the safe home and another four women, who were threatened after being released from jail over completion of jail terms, had also been sent to the safe homes; while the rest of the cases were being discussed with relevant relatives.
It is important to note here that these are only the cases that have come to light; whereas there are many other cases that never come to the light and they are buried in the dark corridors of ignorance and negligence. Moreover, this data pertains to Nangarhar province alone; if the data from all the provinces are collected, it will definitely show a very disheartening situation of women in the country.  
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.
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.