Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Women: The Vulnerable Segment of Afghan Society

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Women: The Vulnerable  Segment of Afghan Society

Afghanistan, a society where poverty excels and illiteracy rules,is a country which is full of tragedy and misfortunes. Considering the current horrifying situation of Afghan women in this modern era, it would be surprising that the women in Afghanistan have played a great role throughout the history of this region. If we unfold the history, 1960 – 1980can be exemplified as the golden age for Afghan women in terms of freedom and rights to civil services.

In 1964, women had active part in drafting the constitutions and there were three women members of parliament. During 1970's, women were rewarded their roles in the society as teachers, government employees, lawyers, doctors, nurses, journalists and writers. But gradually from 1980 – 1990 with the passage of time the situation for Afghan women altered. The women roles in civil services were limited and they were totally neglected in most cases. Finally, in 1995, when Taliban took over the country; women were not allowed to get out of their homes and in case they were supposed to go out, they wereescorted by a male member of the family.

I am tired of talking about Taliban in every article of mine, but what to do? These people who are claiming of being the Islamic soldiers are engaged and bolded in every headline of the newspapers. In comparison to present era, 1995 – 2001 was the darkest age for Afghan women. All the girls' schools and universities were sealed and they were not allowed to go out of their homes.

They were always accompanied by a male member of their families; in case a woman was appearing outside alone, she was being harassed and beaten as punishment by the Islamic soldiers. The society was totally male-dominated society and the women did not have a single role in terms of decision making. The young girls between the ages of 7-9 years old were only allowed to attend traditional religious schools and above this age did not have the right of access to education, healthcare and employment.

As mentioned in Holy Quran, "Getting education is compulsory for every man and women." But the Islamic soldiers whose slogans were imposing the Islamic laws in Afghanistan had banned access to education for Afghan women. Fortunately, the September 11, 2001 incident of terrorist's comprehensive attacks on World Trade Center enlightened a new hope for Afghan civilians, particularly for Afghan women who had longbeen deprived of their social and human rights.

Since 2001 there have been huge changes in terms of women access to education, social rights, human rights and civil services. The universities and colleges are filled equally by male and female students. Women have got active part in government's decisions making process. They have got Ministry of Women Affairs which is dealing specifically with the women affairs in the country. But to be honest, in comparison to other countries; the women in Afghanistan are still considered as oneof the most vulnerable segment of the society.

The female literacy rate in Afghanistan does not cross 14 percent in contrast to 99 percent of female literacy rate in UK and USA, this achievement throughout the last decade is no great deal. Different organizations and institutions such as Ministry of Women Affairs, Independent Human Rights Commissions have been formed to protect the women rights in Afghanistan, but still they have not been able to cope with the violence against women. The heart touching example of violence against women during the last decade can be SaharGul's case.

In December, 27, 2011, a 15 year old girl was discovered imprisoned in her in-law's musty, dark cellar for almost seven months. According to the detailed reports on SaharGul's case by Baghlan police, "She was forced into marriage and had been imprisoned, tortured and inhumanly beaten by her husbandand her in-law's family, when she had refused to work and earn money as a prostitute."

Moreover, another clear example of violence against women in Afghanistan during this period is Bibi Aisha's case, a young Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by her husband. These are the clear examples of the increasing rate of violence against women and human rights in Afghanistan.

Simultaneously, along spending millions of dollars for capacity building of the security forces for estalishling peace and tranquility in the region; the security forces are still not able to assure rational security stability. There are still areas under the regulation of Taliban. There are still areas where girls are not allowed to attend schools and girls' schools are sealed.

Many girls, particularly in southern regions of the country have lost their beauty because of poison thrownover their faces on the way to schools. Many school-aged girls and female teachers are dead because getting punished for going to schools. The example of such insurgent incidents can be the recent reportpublished by Tolo news, "Around 100 female school students are poisoned in Northern Sar-e-Pul province on Saturday, June 23, 2012."Though, the responsibility of this incident has not been claimed by any insurgent groups yet but there is no doubt that Taliban are involved in such inhuman acts.

Women are considered great contributors in terms of peace, civilization and establishments in every aspect of social activities, but alas, Afghan women have always been underestimated. They have never been given the chance to prove their capabilities. For example, the lawwhich was passed by the President Hamid Karzai's government in 2009 had declared that "women are not allowed to work outside and get education unless they are not allowed by their husbands and they are not allowed to go out except for legitimate purposes."

This law is more discouraging and limiting the women's right of access to education and human rights. Though it is not being followed any more but still there are some male dominated families who have been applying these rules on their women in the families.

Along all the achievements such as construction projects, rational opportunities of women access to education and justice that Afghan government has consecutively been reporting to the nation via Media. Afghan women are still one of the most vulnerable segments of the society.

Still around 80 percent of the women in Afghanistan do not have access to education and justice. Still there are many families whose daughters are not allowed to get higher education. As they grow young, they are forced to marry a boy of their family choice. There are still families whose young girls do not have rights of choosing their life partners. There are still families whose women are covered in Burqas (Long scarf that covers the whole body of a female including the face) and are not allowed to leave the house without a man guardian. I really feel sorry for my Afghan mothers and sisters whose talents are being wasted uselessly.

Abbas Ali Sultani is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at ali.ccna@hotmail.com.

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