Monday, February 27, 2006
FROM "FREE" AFGHANISTAN
I was one person who was more than thrilled to see the Taliban go down. I opposed those jerks long before it became fashionable and long before President Bush even gave them two thoughts. It is disheartening that their downfall has NOT greatly improved the lot of many women in Afghanistan. The struggle for human rights for women in that country continues.
The following observation is taken from Kabul Press. I am reprinting it typos, grammar problems, and all.
Human rights violations in the name of religion
By Wazhma Frogh
As the world is witness of Afghanistan stepping into development and rehabilitation phase, but experiences have revealed that no country can ever develop without a sound base for human rights issues. Afghans are suffering from a very harsh situation and human values are worthless in many parts of the region. As I am a researcher on women issues in Afghanistan and I travel frequently to different parts of the region to find out the living circumstances of women.
Some months before I had a visit to an eastern south province of Afghanistan and observed the situation of women and children, their rights have been massacred entirely under the shadow of ignorance those who call themselves Muslims. In this province, in every 10 families , nine of them have sold their daughters at a value equivalent to 300 US $. I was shocked when I saw the girls of 3 and 6 getting married and being sold, when the fathers were asked about the cause, it was all due to low economy and many believed that Islam says don’t keep your daughters with yourselves at home, they believed that the security and stability of the country is a question for all the inhabitants that is why we are selling our daughters from now to avoid problems and burdens in future. Many fathers said a woman has no value at all and if we can get some 300 $ from a daughter then this is the best opportunity for an income earning.
Selling and earlier marriages are practiced very commonly and widely throughout many different regions of the country especially the southern and eastern parts. When the women were asked why they give birth too many children that even they can’t afford feeding them, they all responded that these are all forced deliveries and if a wife refuses to bring up more children, the husband sells his daughter and get another married. While talking to newly wed children, I was very disappointed by their innocence and simplicity, a girl of 8 says, ”Last night my mother told me that I am engaged to the preacher of the village, who has already got three wives and his eldest son is 21 years of age."
Human rights particularly women and children rights is a question to the whole nation, why we are paying a very high price just because we are girls or women, many of us believe that Islam has put these rules on women and our religion says we are inferior than men, these ideas are rooted from ignorance. Women and children rights need to be addressed at a very large extent; speeches at the public places won’t change the current circumstances unless strong actions aren’t taken in terms of public awareness, Islamic sharia, and jurisprudence need to be clarified for people in many far and remote areas of the country.
The independent human rights commission ought to take measurable actions to prevent these violations throughout the country. The central government has also the responsibility to broaden its context and run program which will help people getting awareness about what is Islam really about???? The literacy rate is very low in the country and when a preacher preaches whatever is for his benefit and a man who can't read and write , believes this is the real religion and then he applies all those self made rules at his home and all the weak members of the family become victims of his ignorance.
Wazhma Frogh is an Afghan woman working in Kabul for women's development projects. She is a researcher and women's rights activist. Her articles explore human rights and women's issues in the Middle East.