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Women of Afghanistan in Central Asia, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1545

Research Paper

“An Afghan teenager who said her nose was cut off by her husband to punish her for running away has stepped out in public for the first time with a temporary prosthetic”. (Associated Press. 2010, October 14.) A 19-year old girl Aisha who made her first public appearance at the Grossman Burn Foundation in Los Angeles, that is in charge of her reconstructive surgery, gained significant worldwide attention. She received an award presented by Maria Shriver, California’s first lady, as well as has met with Laura Bush, honorary adviser of the US-Afghan Women’s Council. Visible scars of the disfigurement will heal but psychological and emotional trauma of the torturous past will be much more difficult to overcome. Until all women in the world are free to choose, to love, to study, to vote for whatever and whoever they want, humanity must not be ignorant. Until this young girl and millions others, who suffer wild violence of their husbands or societies they live in, are free there should not be any kind of respect and acceptance of their religions or cults.

While many express strong worries about the fact that Afghani women’s precarious rights are vanishing, there was a time when their rights were much stronger. These rights are even still strong among those people who shared common culture with Afghans and lived in Soviet Central Asia. While American journalists bring public attention to worry that possible return of Taliban to government and the US troop withdrawal, will endanger human rights women have gained, American establishment journalism addressed several concerns about the loss of female rights when Washington supported the misogynist Mujahedeen in the fight against a strong government in Kabul that aimed to liberate Afghan women from the traditional Islamic practices.

Schools for girls are constantly closing, advocates are being attacked, working women are being threatened on the daily basis, and worried families are locking their daughters at home. As Western and Afghan governments explore compromises with the Taliban, females fear that the peace they hope for may come at the cost of rights that have been already improved since 2001 when Taliban government was overthrown. Disturbing and shocking the news about Aisha’s disfigurement brought global attention to the effect that Taliban revival could have on the Afghani women.

Two decades before Taliban fell in 2001 an ongoing civil conflict in Afghanistan deprived its women of the chance to take any part in the country’s political life. The lack of economic and social freedoms left them helpless, a financial load on an impoverished society. Together with elderly and kids, women became victims of terrifying atrocities. During the period of Taliban any hope for the empowerment and emancipation women was turned down because women were even denied such basic human rights as to get education and to have freedom of movement.

Post-Taliban government tried to remediate these abuses by formation of Independent Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. However, just having institutions devoted to gender tolerance and understanding will not guarantee gender mainstreaming.  It should be backed up by the coordinated attention to gender issues across all government bodies and the assistance delivery organizations. Government of Afghanistan created a National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan that is to provide a cross-ministerial and comprehensive approach to the improvement of gender condition. Without strong support this effort cannot be successfully implemented. It is very sad but those brave people who actually speak out in Afghanistan are constantly targeted by the extremist and rebellious groups. They are not sure that when they leave home, they will be back.

The persecution of fighters for Afghanistan’s human rights is partially caused by the country’s conservative and male-dominant culture. Thus, successful and effective gender mainstreaming will need a fundamental modification of Afghan society regulations and norms over many generations.

Strengthened educational efforts at the village level can disseminate this long-term change in the culture of Afghanistan and emphasize the equality of all its citizens under the law. With over half of its population under the age of 15, there is a strong hope for the success to promote this transformation. However, young people have not yet been fully appreciated as a unique resource for such progress. Although about six million children are currently enrolled in schools, others are not because of the employment demands or security concern. About quarter of all kids are forced to work to assist their families. Criminal networks also traffic children abroad where they are forced into labor or sexual abuse. Desperate to pay their debts, Afghan farmers are giving away their daughters in marriage starting from the age of seven.

Since Afghans are family-oriented people, giving power to women will strongly assist to improve the conditions of children as well as will reallocate the responsibility within the family. It will bring positive and helpful effects that expand far beyond social equality. An Afghan woman on average has around seven kids, which means that most of her time is dedicated to household and upbringing of children. She has little to no chance to contribute to family income.

Employment opportunities for female citizens can enable about three million war widows to earn for their families and themselves. Along with improved employment and educational opportunities, women are also in strong need of medical services. Women and children experience the brunt of weak health due to the lack of resources. One woman dies at child labor every half hour and about 20 percent of children never live till their fifth birthday.

Women in Afghanistan went through a terrible attack on their human rights during the years of war and under the oppressive rule of the Taliban. These days female citizens face yet another strong threat with the strengthening of conflict following the attacks of September 11 on the US. It is a duty of the international society to make a strong commitment and obligation to support the rights women in after conflict settlement. The unfairness that describes Afghanistan’s civil war should not characterize Afghanistan’s renovation and development.

In public, females are required under the threat of a harsh punishment to wear the chadari to cover themselves as well as be accompanied by a close male family member at all times. Dress code violations can result in public lashing and beatings by the Religious Police, who use leather batons armored with metal studs. Females are also not allowed to work outside of their homes except the health care area and young girls are not permitted to go to school. These severe decrees are more harshly enforced in urban areas. They are also strongly targeted against educated women who before the Taliban made up 50 percent of civil servants, 70 percent of all teachers and 40 percent of medical doctors and assistants. These decrees have significantly impacted women’s lives.

In the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, women are still invisible. The city mainly belongs and is full of men. Majority of women wear burqa, a piece of clothing that totally covers them from head to feet, which most of non-Islamic women see as a symbol of oppression. “But rebuilding Afghanistan after 23 years of conflict is not about shedding burqas—it’s about revitalizing education, providing livelihood skills, and improving health care, said Betsy White, a scholar of Islam who has worked extensively in Afghanistan. “Westerners need to get over their obsession with the burqa,” she said. “In a place where there is no assured sense of law and order, being completely covered can be very useful”. (Mayell, H. 2002, March 12)

The majority of the population of Afghanistan are followers of Islam. About 1400 years ago Islam insisted that women and men are equal before God and provided them with various rights. For ages now in Afghanistan, females have been forbidden and denied these rights by the governmental decrees or by their family members. “Violence in the lives of Afghanistan’s women comes from everywhere: from her father or brother, from her husband, from her father-in-law, from her mother-in-law and sister-in-law”. (Rubin, A. 2010, November 8)

The development of a National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan is a colossal step in underscoring the significance and importance of women’s human rights issues in the development of Afghanistan as a country. However, the question stays whether the citizens and the international community will join together to make the vision of the Plan an achievable reality. “Peace without justice or human rights is not real peace. The route to real and lasting security can only come through the promotion of human rights and rule of law”. (Amnesty International. 2010, July 18.) Women are the so-called pillars of Afghanistan. By enhancing the attention to gender injustices, it is possible that the half of the population can be economically, socially and politically able to make an important contribution to country’s long-term development and prosperity. It is a strong duty of the international community to assist Afghan government approach the task of giving more power to its women as an ongoing process.

References

Afghanistan Conference Raises Fears of Sacrificing Rights For Short-Term Peace. (2010, July 18). Amnesty International. http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/afghanistan-conference-raises-fears-sacrificing-rights-short-term-peace-2010-07-19

Disfigured Afghan Woman Gets Prosthetic Nose. (2010, October 14). Associated Press. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39672311/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia

Mayell, Hillary. (2002, March 12). Change Slow For Afghan Women. National Geographic News. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/03/0312_020312_afghanwomen.html

Rubin, Alissa. (2010, November 8). For Afghan Wives, a Desperate, Fiery Way Out. The New York Times. http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/11/08/for-afghan-wives-a-desperate-fiery-way-out.html

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