Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, November 18th, 2019

March 8 Celebrated with Various Concerns about Women’s Rights

International Women’s Day is a good opportunity to reflect the progress and call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the country. Availing the opportunity, we need to increase farther awareness of gender equality and issues that face local communities including how they could play a greater role in making changes in their own lives and contribute the sustainable development of Afghanistan. This occasion is broadly marked in other parts of the world, especially at the United Nations Headquarters in New York with numerous activities and various personalities committed to the advancement of women’s rights.
Generally the situation of women in Afghanistan has gradually improved in the last decade, especially in the major urban areas, but there are still cases which show availability of discrimination and violence. According to a very recent survey carried out by a civil society organization released on last Wednesday, 76 percent of men still use violent behavior against their wives in this country. This study was performed through interviews with 1926 people (78% of women and 28% men) in the provinces of Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar and Bamyan. As Mr. Aziz Rafiee, the chairman of this organization was quoted, “75.9% of the interviewees said that they had experienced violence and only 24.1% said they had not; as findings says, Physical violence 20.5%, Social Violence 17 .8, % Cultural violence, 11.8 % and Economic violence is 16.4 %. According to the study, the rate of husband-language violence against their spouses was 25.8 % and sexual violence was 5.2 %.
Another part of the study focuses on violence against women in the husband’s family, which rates this kind of violence up to 66.2% including three main categories such as Physical, sexual and linguistic violence; Mr. Rafiei said the linguistic violence rises to over 39%, which shows low social culture in the families. According to Mr. Rafiei, pre-wedding women in the paternal family also face a variety of violence, as 39.4% of the people involved in the survey confirmed this issue. He added, “Physical violence is 26.8 percent and Sexual violence is one percent, but it’s very sad that a young girl does not feel comfortable in her own family, this is very dangerous. If one is not safe in her won family, no other place would be safe for that.
According to the study, the blamable factors consist of paying disrespect to the husbands and husband’s family, the unemployment and anger of their husbands due to the country’s abnormalities. The civil society organizations have called for public awareness through mosques, schools and the media to reduce violence against women in the family. They also emphasized for police support to protect women’s fundamental rights, provide employment, prosecute perpetrators of violence against women and provide women with access to justice.
The other issue which broadly discussed in the media is the status of women in the current peace process. In recent months, Afghan women have repeatedly expressed deep concerns over what they believe women’s rights and liberties would be undermined in the peace process with the Taliban who had imposed restrict rules on them when they were in power. They are concerned that Qatar bilateral talks have not yet seriously mentioned anything about status of women in the future. Only in Moscow peace talks, there was a general discussion about women rights that two women had participated in the talks; during the talks, Taliban only said that the women have the right to education and can live in the framework of Islamic laws in the society. This ambiguity has concerned the women community and also shows that the Taliban has not changed intellectually and ideologically, and still has their own strong convictions.
Following the debated concerns and reports of violence against women, the United Nations called on the Afghan government to redouble efforts to ensure that “women’s voices are heard in public and women are members of key decision-making bodies such as the Supreme Court or holders of senior positions such as governorships or ministerial appointments.” “Empowering urban and rural Afghan women is essential to reducing poverty, inequality, and violence against women,” said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the UN in Afghanistan. Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, have voiced concern at women’s rights in Afghanistan.
In response to the concerns, the Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani assured on Thursday that the Afghan women and their rights will not be compromised in the peace process. Women’s achievements, particularly their gains in the field of media, will not be sacrificed for peace, she said. “These days, female journalists have concerns about the peace process and fear that they could lose their position, but I want to assure them that the era has gone when women had not a voice in media,” she said. “Women’s concerns will be taken into consideration. It will be discussed on the peace table,” expressed by Haseena Safai, Acting Minister of Information and Culture.
Earlier, President Ashraf Ghani, who addressed a gathering of at least 800 women from around the country, also had stressed the need for preserving women’s rights in the peace process and said the issue should be given a special attention during the upcoming grand assembly on peace in Kabul.“You are no longer victims of decisions on the future of Afghanistan,” Ghani reiterated. “No one can impose peace on us. A peace which is not sustainable is rejected.”