Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Women; Yesterday and Today

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Women; Yesterday and Today

With the evolution of socio-political setup in a society, the weaker strata of the society have to bear the brunt to a large extent. Women happen to be included in such strata. Through out most part of history, human societies have been patriarchal – men ruling over almost all the institutions in the society; where as women have been the subordinate specie, shouldering the burden of children, family and numerous discriminations. From theStone Age to today's industrial world where human beings sing the songs of civilization and modernization, women are yet to be given their appropriate position in the society.

During the Stone Age when men used to go for hunting out of their shelters, women used to take care of shelters and children. From the very beginning of human society they were confined to their houses and responsibilities of children. During the tassels among the tribes they used to be made slaves, and maltreatedin various manners. Agricultural societies, afterwards, couldnot designate women the position they deserved. Landlords, intoxicated with power they enjoyed for being the owners of the lands, which were basically turned into fertile farmlands by the peasants, used to consider peasants with their entire families as their personal possessions.

Further, they by the dint of traditional norms and values discriminated the peasants and especially women to a miserable extent. The same practices can be found in many parts of third world countries that have their means of production dependent on agriculture. There are many practices in such societies where women are sacrificed because of man-made values. Female babies, because of extreme hatred and least importance, are put to death immediately after their birth. Girls are not allowed to get even basic education. They are married prematurely to men who are three or four times elder than them. If they are found to be having any sort of relation with any male outside the family members, they are stoned to death or burnt alive. They are burdened with the responsibilities of children before they can understand what really motherhood is. They are not allowed to participate in decision-making process even if the decision is bound to have a considerable impact on their personal lives.

Women in our own country Afghanistan have been striving hard to acquire her deserving status in the society. Except on certain occasions in few cities, women in different parts of country are discriminated as a usual behavior. Women in our society have been the victims of worst kind of religious extremism and fundamentalism and the rule of Taliban displayed its ugliest manifestations. Women were not allowed to come out of their houses without a male escort. They were put to extreme punishments on pity matters. Many women were shot in public just because of meager blames of having relations with man out of their families and many more were shot just because their feet were exposed to men. Simply, women had the worst deterioration of their personality and status during the reign of Taliban; they were confined to the nourishment of children and service of male members of their families.

Situation seems to have improved a little since the disintegration of Taliban but still there are myriad of examples where women are victimized by the so-called traditional, tribal and religious values. The insensitivity of government in this regard further aggravates the situation. Definitely, the government has not been doing much to uplift the downtrodden dignity of women. Still 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate and among those who are literate only few can get higher education and continue the professions of their choice. Only 30 percent of Afghan girls have access to education and that access is not granted with the objective of educating the girls of the society, rather that access is provided to them because the mothers need free time for household activities, therefore, schools can be an apt place for their daughters to pass their time and not disturb their mothers.

One in every three Afghan women experience physical, psychological or sexual violence, which is really threatening for the social order and social development. It also points out the tendency of the male in our society to subjugate the female through their masculine strength and prove their dominance. And it is really shocking to mention that every 30 minutes, an Afghan woman dies during childbirth. No proper facilities are available in most parts of the country in this regard, further no proper planning is carried out or allowed by the fathers regarding the number of children they must have. Most of the mothers remain sick during and after their pregnancies, which is really dangerous for the health and even to lives of the children.

The life expectancy of a woman is only 44 years, which is very low as compared to other countries in the neighborhood, leave aside the developed nations of the world. And 70 to 80 percent of women face forced marriages, most of them prematurely. There are occasions when girls are exchanged in order to settle disputes among tribes and even as gifts. Further, honor killing has been a major problem in our rural areas that has devoured the lives of many women, without proper trial and evidence.

The discrimination, disorder, displacements, disintegration of families, and discomfort in social liveshave made the women in our society suffer from many psychological disorders. According to a study by the Former Deputy Health Minister FaizullahKakar about 2,300 women commit suicide annually, which is really alarming even if the number is not accurate 100 percent. The women, undoubtedly, are an integral part of our society. Their psychological and social integrity are paramount for us in order to have smooth flow of evolutionary periods.

The plight of women has to be considered, internationally in general and nationally in particular, with due consideration. Both Government offices and NGO's have to divert their attentions towards this neglected stratum of the society, immediately. Yes, women in the developed countries of the world are having their rights, but still there are many issues which are left un-addressed even in those societies.

But for us it is a Herculean task even to reach to that position. Our government, as has included in the constitution, needs to make the people realize that women do possess equal rights as men in the society, for that purpose it has to deal with a variety of difficulties including religious extremism and fundamentalism, tribal norms, values and practices and above all the male chauvinists of the society. In the same manner, the NGO's working in society have to carry out measures which should be long lasting and must not be limited to certain projects or programs.Women deserve to have better position in the society and justice demands that they should get the same.

The writer is a new growing columnist of the daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at sherzai@outlookafghanistan.com

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