Women Rights Should not be Compromised

Perhaps women could never enjoy the freedom of owning human rights in Afghanistan under the rule of Taliban unless they were overthrown from their cruel position. With daily news clippings and videos often coming up on televisions, radio and newspapers that the violence against women have risen and that the rights of women are so fragile in the country. Adding that women have several claims that they will return back home after the foreigners leave Afghanistan. The foreigners enabled us have access to our rights and we will certainly loose all the gains with their departure after 2014.

Over more than a decade after the fall of the Taliban, there is some good news, but still much bad news pertaining to women in Afghanistan. The patterns of politics, military operations, religious fanaticism, patriarchal structures and practices, insurgent violence continue to threaten girls and women in most insidious ways. Although women’s rights and freedoms in Afghanistan have finally entered the radar of international community’s consciousness, they still remain in the restricted in many aspects.

Worth adding, the issue of Afghan women’s rights and freedoms did not become a worldwide, particularly a western concern, until the September 11 and the successive U.S. military campaign for the empowerment of Afghan women. The U.S. and international donors committed to country’s reconstruction have been active lately in promoting the women’s rights and supporting nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies and some government entities in the efforts to empower women politically, economically, educationally and even in law enforcement.

However, sociocultural and extremist religious elements continue to pose serious obstacles to these efforts that push these agencies to withdraw from the development areas where they have been working closely with the most marginalized  and excluded communities. These constraints and impediments have an immensely devastating impact on the lives of girls and women and most often result in severely impairing quality of life and even reducing female life expectancy as the violence and discrimination against increase against them.

Another ominous trend that has undermined the right of women is President Karzai’s political constituency, consisting of increasingly conservative and fundamentalist characters. In order to appease them and gain political support, the authorities have compromised women’s rights. In some cases, it has even cast a symbolic vote to Taliban-like mindsets.

Meanwhile, women politicians, activists and journalists constantly face terrorization and threats and several other numbers have even been assassinated in the last couple of months. The government has had always big talks on protecting the rights of women after each incident happens to them, yet the situation has completely gone worst and women are themselves afraid of their fate after the foreigners depart from the country. The health and education statistics pertaining to the girls and women alone is enough to see that improvements have been painfully gradual and attention to these harsh realities has been grossly lacking in the last few years. Trends in violence against women and insecurity are also analyzed and women are too scared to be able to claim for their rights after 2014 if the situation remains grim as of now.

Adding that the situation for girls and women remains deplorable, despite concerted efforts to improve their freedoms, rights and quality of life, enable them fight for their rights and take active part in every social change or participate in both social and political affairs. In a June 2011, a global survey showed that Afghanistan remains to be the world’s most dangerous country for women to born.  The country has staggering maternal mortality rates, poor and inaccessible health care centers, decades of conflicts and near total lack of economic rights rendering the country a very dangerous place for women. Women who do attempt to speak out or take on public roles that challenge deep-rooted gender stereotypes of what is acceptable for women to do or not, such as working as policewomen or news broadcasters, are often scared or killed by the mindset groups.

However, the existing threat to women and their rights in the country springs mainly from a resurgence of radical fundamentalists thought and politics. The struggle is multifaceted at once political, economic, ethical, psychological and intellectual. It resonates with the mix of values, mores, facts, ambitions, prejudices, ambivalence, uncertainties and fears that are the stuff of human culture as of today.

The cases of violence against women in our country are evident of violation of women rights to be noted. They are mostly uneducated and have no knowledge about the outside world. They are bad victims of domestic violence and almost all other malpractices done against women. The plight of these women has not improved with all the treaties, conventions and covenants in spite of various national and international’s unlimited efforts on women rights protection since the fall of the Taliban.

Of now, women moved from the boundaries to the center of history, playing increasingly important roles in families, communities and states across the world. As women became increasingly aware and assertive, their demands for equality, participation and access elicited reactions that range from curtailing their right to the privacy of their bodies and minds to policies that deny them experiences that are essential to their ability to complete in society. The violation of women’s rights is usually exercised in the name of tradition, religion, social cohesion, morality or some complex of transcendent values. Always, its justified in the name of culture or religion only to obtain their evil desire.

An interrogation of the dominant religious ideology is necessary to prevent legislation from binding women to an essentialist notion of identity, thereby denying them the possibility of challenging the so-called tradition. Now, the women in Afghanistan, often called a minority within a minority for their double handicap of gender and faith are challenging the medieval religious laws, which have oppressed them for centuries. The daily cases of violence against women are an important one to be noted. The plight of these women has not improved with all the treaties, conventions and covenants. The crass violation of women’s rights we see in our society has more to do with power, patriarchy and misuse of religion as a political weapon than religion properly understood as individual faith. The fundamentalists draw on the discourse of relativity, now in vogue in the West, to deny or violate women’s rights by introducing or perpetuating a system of gender isolation.

Our government should come up with new approach to protect the rights of women and let them live with dingy and honor. They must not be regarded as comparators, but rather as companions. Their role is very important social change.

The article was published in Daily Outlook Afghanistan Group of Newspapers on February 28, 2013.


About samad1986

Abdul Samad Haidari is a poet, writer, teacher and a former freelance journalist, currently residing in Indonesia as a stateless refugee. He is the author of The Red Ribbon He fled his home country at the age of seven and grew up wandering in Pakistan and Iran as a child refugee, and was separated from his family for the majority of his childhood. For two years, at the age of eight and nine, he was forced into child labour in the construction industry in Iran. In contrast, Pakistan offered refugees like him the opportunity to study and work. This education and work experience culminated in Abdul teaching computer studies and English language courses at the Intel Computer Center and Pak Oxford Professionals. After the collapse of the Taliban government, Abdul returned to Afghanistan thinking that the security situation had improved, and that he could take part in the reconstruction of his war-torn country. With this in mind, Abdul served as a freelance journalist and humanitarian aid-worker in areas of the country that remained dangerous to civilians because of the influence of terrorist groups. Abdul served with the Norwegian refugee council (NRC), ActionAid Afghanistan, Daily Outlook Afghanistan group of newspapers, and The Daily Afghanistan Express. As a freelance journalist, Abdul wrote articles and editorials about on-the-ground realities, which were then circulated widely. These had a particular focus on women and children’s rights, corruption, transparency and accountability in government, warlords and terrorist groups’ actions and the systematic persecution of minority groups in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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