Since last week onwards, the story of Farkhunda is circulating in every news channels and newspaper headlines. The name Farkhunda draws up failure, failure of this war-torn society’s leaders and those of the international community involved in mending its prolonged devastation national efforts after more than three decades of unbroken war. To restore peace with equal rights and opportunities for both men and women, the world has spent billions of dollars and thousands of human souls in the past more than 13-years to make sure that radical extremism would never again make Afghanistan their safe home.
In the past more than 13-years, the global efforts in the country provided the Afghans paved roads, new buildings; health care centers, schools, institutions, and enrolled millions of deprived girls and women to schools and universities. Girls and women are now educated in greater numbers, and equal rights for men and women have been enshrined in the constitution. But in many parts of the country, tribal customs, traditions and religious perceptions still result in the suppression of many women, even the heart of capital-Kabul. They face high levels of domestic violence and are forced into marriages, even as children; some are victims of honor killings, suffering from paralyzing psychological and moral damage as a result of prolonged conflict and violation of human rights.
During his presidential campaign last year, Ashraf Ghani was giving high-tune speeches with bold promises to bring “change” in every concerning areas that the previous government failed to make happen with particular focus on providing better protection for women and bring the country under the ultimate rule of law. But for many activists who protested on Tuesday, Farkhunda’s murder was a reminder of the threats Afghan women continue to face even the in the setup of so-called modern Afghanistan and the ultimate failure of Ghani’s administration. The fact that a woman was killed for the same reason is, as many Afghan commentators have pointed out, a failure of Afghan society and of their leaders. It also indicates the fact that how flawed the vision and process of reconstructing this society has been. It would be intolerant to overlook this reality, and all its implications for the international agencies involved in Afghanistan working to bring equality and protect the international human rights standard.
What exactly happened before the crowd rushed towards her in a video clip on Facebook shows her pleading with her assailants, saying that the accusation was a lie and that she did not burn the holy Quran. But before any investigation or contemplation take place over the matter, she was beaten to death, put under the car and her bloodied body was set on fire. Afghan women have known for a while now that there have been few gains in this area. Farkhunda’s death, and the manner of her killing, have now revealed the fact that how powerless and helpless the women are in Afghanistan in the setup of a so-called democratic government. It took two hours to murder her, the brutality unfolding as hundreds of people and armed police officers watched, doing nothing to save Farkhunda from her assailants. The neighborhood police headquarters was about a five-minute walk from that Mosque. Many witnesses shot photos and videos with their cell phones while calling beat her but did not do anything for the sake of humanity for poor Farkhunda.
What is happening in Afghanistan today clearly shows that it is not enough for the nation to simply associate themselves by lightening candles on their hands and condemn the tragedy. In being proactive in making our contributions to such efforts, the people everywhere must equally vehemently challenge and rebut any alleged Islamic justification for any violations of human rights and humanitarian law, particularly which happened with only 27-years-old Farkhunda. This is particularly important to be stopped, when violations are committed in the name of Islam, torturing and killing anyone publically with a self-posed law. The first voices for justice must be raised from the scholars if they are indeed committed in spreading the message of peace, harmony, equality, and brotherhood. Brutality, injustice and humiliation happened with Farkhunda is undeniable but to stop such barbaric incidents in the future will be to punish those involved in her brutal killing and ask the government to align itself with the universal humanitarian law and order in providing protection with equal rights, justice and opportunities for its citizens belonging to any religion and tribal ethnic.
The new government under Ghani has persistently failed in those areas unfortunately. A survey conducted showed that majority of people are dissatisfied of his governance due to his mass failure in his all promises. Since his leadership, the violence had risen to great extent with massive human rights violations on daily basis. Crime is rampant and goes mostly unpunished. Corruption among the police, prosecutors, and judges has emboldened criminals and citizens have little faith in the rule of law under Ashraf Ghani. The outlines between morality and immoral behavior, lawful and illegal acts and righteous and sinful deeds have painted the fact that most people are not even aware of their wrongdoings who claim to be spreading the message of peace and equality or who believe to own Islam.
Since the withdrawal of international community from the region, a view of Afghans as violent tribesmen trapped in the middle ages has become prevalent in the west. While on the surface, the Farkhunda’s incident confirms this opinion; those who remember the pre-war Afghanistan know that while it was a poor and under-developed country, there was dignity, tolerance and a code of honour with respect on human rights. Afghans were always highly religious, but their Islam, heavily influenced by Sufi culture, was moderate and tolerant of the other. As even the most conservative or radical Muslims around the world know, most of the policies and practices of this brutal group of so-called human beings in the name of Islam have no Islamic justification whatsoever. This raises dozens of questions about the silent of the same group of so-called people with black and white turban over the daily burning of Quran by Taliban and other extremist group across the country.
This of course, is to say that Afghanistan has never been kind to its people, particularly women. It had its share of criminals and morally corrupt individuals in power. Today’s survivalist mentality, however, has no room for vital human virtues of compassion and tolerance. An old educational curriculum does not teach students to think and to use logic at schools. Religious instruction at schools or at mosques indoctrinates the youth in an interpretation of Islam that fosters narrow-mindedness. Despondency has helped superstitious beliefs flourish among people.
So, what killed Farkhunda was the failure in adequately addressing several fundamental issues, including the culture of violence, a variety of frustrations and post-traumatic problems, a qualitatively inadequate education system, an unchecked religious establishment and an extremely weak rule of law that is far from implementation.
Farkhunda’s callous murder will not be the last such incident-taking place in the history of Afghanistan if the people and Afghan leaders with their international supporters do not reconsider overhauling the educational system and seriously applying the rule of law equally, particularly on gross human rights violators. Farkhunda’s murderers must be punished in the strongest possible manner but the work should not stop there. Constructing roads, buildings, and institutions will not bring Afghanistan back to modernity, peace, and stability. Investing in healing its people’s deeply rooted psychological wounds would be the right place to start while educational system should remain the second step to focus.
The country is going through a very touchy point of time. The nation came across the real deeds and preaching of the so-called scholars who cannot dear to challenge the violence of Taliban by burning Quran with their deadly attacks at Mosques and schools on daily basis but they are very active to murder a helpless woman so vulnerably. It was so heart breaking that people in that large number so violently beating this innocent woman and the police around them are watching just like vultures, waiting for her dead body. Others sitting behind the chairs are threatening her family to leave Kabul immediately or tell the media that the innocent Farkhunda was a mental woman instead of persecuting the culprits and all who have been involved in that brutal murder of Farkhunda directly or indirectly, advertently or inadvertently.
If the government fails to do so, the human rights organizations and the people at large must take a stand against these policies and practices of people involved in this murder from a human rights point of view. Unless the people do the same from a human rights point of view, those responsible in the killing of Farkhunda will get away with their false claim that these heinous crimes against humanity are dictated by Islam as a religion.