Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 15th, 2019

Discrimination Against Women in Afghan Society

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Discrimination Against Women in Afghan Society

There have been endeavors to heighten the position of women within Afghan society; however, there are serious concerns still intact in this regard. Though improvements have been observed, the basic factors that are responsible for the discrimination of women have not been uprooted considerably. Strict tribal norms and values with great gender bias, religious extremism and weak law and order situation have been violating the rights of the women to a great extent. It is really unfortunate to note that discrimination against women is not just related to the violation of rights rather it has now turned into merciless violence against them.

There have been many cases in Afghanistan wherein the females have been physically tortured. Beating them severely, cutting them brutally, burning them alive or throwing acids on them have been witnessed by many throughout the country apart from forcing them to marry at a very early age, selling and buying them for the purpose of prostitution or forced marriages, compelling them for self-immolation and raping them.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN Women have recently emphasized that it would not be possible to carry the movement of protecting the rights of Afghan women if the violence against them is not completely controlled through tough and appropriate implementation of the law on Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW).

The director of human rights for UNAMA, Georgette Gagnon, has mentioned, "As long as women and girls in Afghanistan are subject to violence with impunity, little meaningful and sustainable progress on women's rights can be achieved in the country.

It is really a fact that unless law enforcement agencies do not carry out concrete measures to enact the law so as to control violence against women, it would be very difficult to control the situation within a society where women are not considered even human beings.

15 years old girl, Sadat, who had set herself on fire because of extreme domestic violence, before her death in Turkey, where she was under-treatment, had said, "I have knocked all doors to get rid of violence but all my complaints had fallen on deaf ears. Instead, the prosecutor accused me of lying and warned me of dire consequence," Such cases occur in different parts of the country and there are no ears to listen to the cries of women who go through such violence.

It is important to note that that voices that are heard in media and the cases that are brought to media may get some attention but there are many other such cases that are not brought to media because there are many women who as a result of fear never raise their voices before their voices are made completely silent. It is also unfortunate to note that those who do raise their voice do not always get justice. They are discouraged by society in such a way that they should never again try to do so. They are made examples so that others who may intend to do so must be discouraged.

Afghan society is a patriarchal society wherein all the major institutions are controlled by male members of the society. Though the history of male dominance within Afghan society is not a new phenomenon, its extreme traces can be found within Taliban era. Taliban introduced the worst kind of violence against the women and brought the position of women to its lowest. There were many cases during their reign when women were prosecuted publicly - they were shot in public, beaten brutally and even stoned to death.

They were not allowed to come out of their houses; in compelling situations they were allowed to come out only when they had a male escort with them. In short, Taliban displayed the worst kind of discrimination of women through their extremist religious ideology and obsolete tribal values.

The same kind of discrimination against women is still found in Afghanistan though there have been claims of improvements. One of the basic reasons of the survival of such an attitude is the way the females are perceived within Afghan society. They are, in most of the cases, considered a burden by the families. As females do not earn them money the way males can do, most of the poor families want to get rid of them as soon as possible. Marriages prove to be a legal of way of doing the same; moreover, they will be receiving money as well in response of their marriages.

The most important thing in their marriage is the amount of money they receive; neither the age of the bride nor the family or age of the groom. Secondly, the women are considered no more than other personal possession by the male members of the society. They can buy or sell them, use them as convenient and can discard them at their will. No one is there to object. On the other hand, women in Afghan society, like the women in other tribal societies, are considered the honor of the family and they are bound within the chains of so called sanctity.

Their actions are controlled through the strict concept of dignity of the family and they are not allowed to choose their own options. Their position and future are decided by the family and they have to follow what the whole family, especially male members, decide for them. If they disagree to follow their families they are killed through honor-killings.

It is necessary that Afghan government and law enforcing agencies should take serious notice of the discrimination and violence against women. However, at the same time it is necessary to address the root causes of the problem. It is important to bring about changes in the way the women are perceived within our society. Unless, they are considered human beings and important part of the society it is very difficult to control discrimination and violence against them.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at dilawar.sherzai@gmail.com

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