Multiculturalism

Afghanistan fails to accord human rights to women a Guest Post by Atifa Amiri

Basically, women’s rights are the most ethical concern that has a lot of history and is also ringed by historical moral theories.images

  • For example, Aristotle (384 B.C to 322 B.C) believed that women were fit only to be subject of men and they are born to be ruled in a constitutional sense, as citizens rule other citizens.
  • He also mentioned in his book “POLITICS”: the salve is wholly lacking the deliberative element, the female has it but it lacks authority.
  • But Kant (1724-1804) on his moral works clarifies that all citizen including the women have the rights and should be encouraged to attempt towards an active condition.

Women’s rights in Afghanistan

The implication of human rights, especially Women’s rights is more complicated in Afghanistan than any definition by the ancient Greek and German, philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche and many more.

Under the Taliban’s regime, women experience indescribably worse conditions and were deprived of their basic rights and had no access to any facilities for better development but, women were given only the most primary access to health care and medical. But even had not freedom of decisions-making and still somehow.

For example, the Burqa is, in fact, a cloth prison that incarcerates not only as a psychological, but also and physical burden on some Afghan women. It was forced by the Taliban, and is another violence that took freedom of choice from women in terms of their lifestyle.

Recognition of women’s rights should be birthrights and fundamental rights everywhere.  However, in Afghanistan,  addressing women’s rights is more challenging thanin the private sphere, because of the customs and the traditions that most of the people follow. In Afghanistan in a huge extent, women have been discriminated against and are struggling every day of their lives.

Challenges:

There are many challenges in addressing the issues of women’s rights in Afghanistan. The three decades of civil war ruined all sectors in Afghanistan which damaged the most but especially the schools and educations center ruined and burnt in different parts of the country.

Education:

  • Literacy, although literacy measures are very high between both males and females in Afghanistan but there are more challenges in women’s primary education. However, annually, in Afghanistan, millions and billions are being spent on the development projects and humanitarian aids and educations is one of them that has very slow growth rates.
  • Lack of proper schools in so many provinces of Afghanistan and the quality of contents and textbooks are opprobriously bad, lack of science lab supplies, regularity of teachers and so on these issues are something so general between both men and women but women are being force from family side to do not go to school which are the main issues.
  • In so many places in Afghanistan, still, women are not allowed to go outside. Many women empowerment projects have been donated by the western countries but have less results in outcomes.

Poverty:

  • Although the Afghan government provide a free educations for all but still due to poverty the poorer families are prefer their son’s educations to daughters.
  • Poverty caused the dismissal of women’s rights in terms of their educations also poverty is the root of all the problems. As Kofi Anan, seventh Secretary-General of United Nations, rightly said “extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.
  • The best policy to address women’s rights must be employment opportunities and networks for social services that support healthy families like, housing support, health care center, and child care.

Violence:

Violence against women is recognized as a major handicap to health and social development. Although this is a common concern in many geographical settings,  especially in the areas with a classic patriarchy. Women are facing challenges rights from their and fights against society at every point in time.

Violence against women in Afghanistan is so challenging, violence by the husband that is both physical and emotional like hitting, cheating, and violence by mother-in-law and other in-laws family is mostly physical violence. This a significant problem among the Afghan women in Afghanistan and I think is directly linked to poverty and economical problem.

Physical violence is one of the clearest and most serious forms of violence against women in Afghanistan and is not only limited to the aforementioned ways.  There other kinds of violence as well that its root can be sought in the culture, traditions and cultural practices like insulting women through harsh and abusive language. However, to a small extent, the prevalence of domestic violence decreased along with the increasing proportions of women to educations.

Women are considered as homemakers:

The other challenge that hinders Afghan women is that  are bound to remain within the framework of their home and the societal pressure demotivated them even before starting their path and most of Afghan men believes that women made to rise children and give birth to children.

Child marriage:

Basically child marriage is the violation of child rights and has a great negative impact on the health, growth, educational opportunities and mental development of a child.  Through child marriage, both girls and boys are suffering  strongly.

However on 9th April 2017, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Information launched a national action plan to annihilate early child marriage but, we could not get a serious result due to lack of implementation of the law is much more important than making the law. So human rights commission and ministry of women affairs must pay attention to the preventions of violence and implementations of the law.

So, in conclusion, the only solutions to get out from the current situation is educations and educated people.

A short commentary view on Afghan women situations   by Atifa Amiri, student of MA political science at JMI University New-Delhi.Picture1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her fear of falling

by Zakira Rasooli

 

Her fear of falling

She sighed and whispered silently, “May God help and protect the helpless and the struggling ones.”

I looked out the window to find any reason why she uttered these words.Picture1

Looking out of the car window, it appeared to me that I was really looking at a screen playing a movie on structural violence at that moment. A movie that evidently picturizes hunger, suppression, abuse, maltreatment, and the devastations of war.

I was heading home on public transport after spending my day doing field research. I was lost in my thoughts of the disheartening stories of working kids I had collected for my research project when the car door suddenly opened. The woman sitting beside me, who was closest to the door and would have fallen out, had I not held her back. In Afghanistan, drivers pack as many people as they can so they can earn more money per trip and without any consideration for the safety of their passengers.shuttlebus-157-orig

But little did I know that the unexpected opening of the door would present me with another painful, unwrapped story.

Coming back to the door, we realized that it was the driver’s assistant who had opened it to make sure it was latched properly. Nevertheless, it frightened the woman. Her fearful reaction to the opening of the door made the driver’s assistant and driver laugh. My mind hanged to processes. Men’s laughter at a woman’s fear of falling down reminded me of how women are constantly emotionally broken down in my country because of stupid gender rules. It made me contemplate the depths of my insights and discourse about men that were adversely influenced and shaped by the recent harassment cases that I had to struggle and deal with almost every day on the  way to my job. The stories of self-worth and damaging relationships of some female friends who had to compromise self-love and confidence. The narrated stories of women in Kandahar. Particularly, the recent story of a child marriage, in which the girl escaped and returned to her to her parents’ home only to be expelled by her parents and sent back to her husband’s house, later to be beaten and ill-treated  by him and her in-laws.violence-against-women-1468258151-3386

These all contributed to how the incident happening at the moment should have been processed and analyzed. For a while, I was struck by the irritating thoughts that perhaps these men who make the vulnerable go through sexual abuse and exploitation, marital rape, psychological abuse, femicide, slavery, and harassment to satisfy their desires, embody the worst demons in human form. Very well informed of the harm the acts cause, yet making women suffer as if their suffering is a source of pleasure and joy.

However, coming back from my male-bashing thoughts to the reality of the moment, I decided that I had enough of their laughter and the more time went on, the more unbearable it became. I knew I should interfere; I told the men that they should be sorry for their disgraceful behavior, but it was so disappointing that they kept making fun of how they scared the women with the sudden opening of the door. I sensed that my voice was filled with anger and a part of my sub- conscious mind reminded me of the norms of my suppressing culture that a woman must keep in mind while conversing with the opposite gender.

Nevertheless, I shut the conflict inside my head so that I could hear the woman. I noticed her talking to me and complaining about how her last few days had gone by.

She said, “I have been through worst these past few days, this is nothing compared to what I have experienced recently. It is okay, let them be.”

I asked if everything was alright with her. She was sobbing, couldn’t spare time to talk. Indeed, in a male-dominated society like ours, women expressing emotions through crying is considered guile by drama queens. Obviously, a woman having this in mind, wouldn’t cry. Yet, shading tears is the ultimate expression of deep emotional pain.  Having this realization in mind, I knew she was going through a very serious phase but I wondered what that could be. I asked if I could help her but she remained silent. After a while, she burst out that it was her husband.  He expelled her from their home.

This really concerned me about what she would do based on the fact that a lot of women are financially dependent on their husbands. That is why separation put the women in an impossible situation. However, I curiously asked if she had a job. She said she was a teacher and jumped into the topic of what her husband thinks of her as a teacher.

She asserted that “he tells me that I am a pimp”

She later asked me if a school was a place for pimping and pandering, desperately seeking my validation. She further explained how loyal she is to her husband and what treatment she gets in return.

Looking sad, she claimed, “I only have my husband’s number saved on my phone and except for him, no other man calls me anyway. It is that easy, if you set limits to how people treat you, you never get late-night calls from the opposite gender and you wouldn’t go on talking for hours and flirting with them through the phone.”images (1)

I wondered why she was telling me all this until she opened up that her husband got a call from his female colleague late at night, the previous night. He left for the other room and locked the door. He talked for hours with that girl.

“I wouldn’t mind it if it was a formal call and he wouldn’t have issues with me hearing their conversation. It bothered me the whole night but I didn’t dare to talk about it until the next morning when I finally spoke with him.” She said.

She asked the reason why he was doing this to her, but his response came in the form of a severe beating and also him throwing her out of the house. That is why, she was in the car heading to her only sister’s home with no clarity and many concerns about her future, especially now that she is considered a dishonored woman.

I reached my destination and dropped out of the car with many questions in mind. He is the one who breached the sacred bond of marriage, while she remained loyal. He lives free of all social constraints while she is bound to follow them. Yet, despite all this, it is her who was blamed, it was her who was beaten up and thrown out of the home, the one who broke rules of the sacred bond of marriage, not him, never him. Didn’t he have the reason to expel her from their home?

blame

Did he not have the reason to beat her up?

And did he not have the reason to kick her out of the house?

However, like many times before, I was struck by the fact of how flawed the marriage institutions were in my society. How it perfectly cages women while setting men free to break the rules. The destruction it has wrought on the society. Recalling similar stories I had known. Thinking about how each one of us knows of a story similar but preferring silence. Letting the destructions and sufferings keep winning over us as if both genders, by consent, desire to live this life of inequality, distress, and constant misery.

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Zakira Rasooli is a human rights activist and writer. She is the co-founder of conflict transformation movement named Afghanistan Unites and  is a senior political science student at American University of Afghanistan.

A Young Afghan Girl’s Reflections Upon Selena Gomez

What a young Afghan wants to know from Selena Gomez and what she would like Selena Gomez to know about her

I’m Muska Ehsan. I am a 14-year-old Afghan girl with big dreams. I live in a society where girls survive for their dreams, in a world surrounded by rich and big people (physically) with really small minds. But I don’t want to waste my time waiting for them to allow me to become broad minded.   I want to start this now, for myself.

I must admit, I am fully addicted to music. It empowers me, encourages me to focus on my goals, and it brings up a fire in my heart to not stop. I am a very big fan of Selena Gomez, she is the first person who affected my life this much. She gave me a hope to be what I am and to never lose hope during hard times, which are often in my country. She completely changed my life with her speeches, lyrics and life journey.

 

Selena 

I still remember the first time when I listened to her song, “Who Says.”  It touched my heart. I started crying.  I didn’t know why I cried, but the song had totally touched my heart. For some reason, I just started to search about her and slowly learned about her life journey and how she got to this stage of life. Watching her videos and speeches had totally changed my mind.

I had a new chapter to start with a new hope. So, I started to work with an Afghan kids’ television show. It was a new experience for me and I found many lovely and loyal fans. Actually, I had a kind of celebrity life in the small town of Kandahar. I was powerful and had the fire to do more, and give my best shows on television and encourage Afghan young girls to fight against the awareness of life which people have splashed in our minds. I wanted to give them the message that there is so much to do to help this country, and in several ways to change people’s minds.

After a year of television life, my father told me about a dormitory school which was the best school in Afghanistan for girls. I, hopefully, applied and got accepted. I was very happy, and couldn’t wait to encourage my friends, classmates and roommates to listen to music.  But, unfortunately, I didn’t know about dorms rules.   What I had thought about dorms wasn’t the same as I came to know about them. When I went there, the administration took my phone.  They started me on a busy study timetable.

Even so, I told everyone about Selena Gomez.  I could not hold my mouth to talk about her…

Quietly, it was getting harder for me because not having music was making my life complicated. Not receiving any news about Selena was like hell. I spent my nights crying but slowly it was getting normal and my focus on the future was increasing. My lovely advisor always kept encouraging me and told me “do not give up”. And the big dream of working in Disney channel as an actress was always burning. I know I will face many difficulties, but I will keep going because that is what my queen (Selena) is doing.

So, I imagined that I was asked to interview Selena on television and this is what I wish to ask Selena:

 QUESTIONS to my idol who may never see this…

  1. Whose biggest fan were you in childhood?
  2. What do you think about Afghan life? Or do you even think about Afghanistan?
  3. What is the most important thing which never stopped you from reaching your goals?
  4. What is your biggest fear in life which you fought for, to get to this level?
  5. Which kind of books do you like to read?
  6. Is there a quote which you have always followed the most?
  7. Which kind of people you like the most to talk to?
  8. If you could help Afghan girls, how would you want to help them?
  9. In what do you place no value in life?
  10. Did you ever imagine the life you are living now?
  11. Is there any hope that you have, that till now didn’t come true? If yes, is it impossible?

 

My dream is that someday I will have the chance to meet Selena and ask these questions of her in person.

 Muska

Muska Ehsan

AFGHANISTAN – CONCEPTIONS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Join this event and engage in dialogue with young Afghan scholars.
Get to know artifacts and intricacies of Afghan culture, arts,
and fragments of life amid chaos.
Thursday, June 28, 2018 7:00 PM 8:30 PM Kibbitznest 2212 North Clybourn Avenue Chicago, IL, 60614 United States
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“Till The Last Page” – a story of young Shazia’s migration to Beirut from Syria ~ guest post by Prachi Jain

Till The Last Page

The caterwaul and commotion around disturbs her sleep, she opens her dreary eyes, and lies wistfully in her makeshift bed.

Shazia fled Syria in 2012, and arrived at Shatila camp in search of refuge. Two years back, her life was totally different from what it was now. She lived with her family right outside small peaceful village Hama. Her family comprised of her parents and two younger brothers. Though they were poor, life was happy and full of hope for them. She attended government school in the neighborhood, her father had a small shop selling general household item. One of the brightest kid in school, Shazia never though she would have to live life of orphaned refugee one day.

Hama

– Village of Hama, Syria

Syria was under attack for almost a year by then, when one day her village came under attack of regime. She fled along with her family towards Southern Beirut to save their lives. She lost her mother before reaching camp, and soon after her father passed away due to fever and unavailability of proper medical care. Shazia still wonders was it really fever that took her father’s life, or was it pain of being uprooted from his homeland and loss of his life partner. By the time she reached refugee camp, all that was left in this world for her was her two little brothers, Alif and Rizwan aged ten and six. Responsibility of these two kids directly came up on their thirteen-year-old elder sister.

map-syria-300She steps out of her bed, folds it and places it in corner so that room can have more space during daytime. She shares one room with another family of 7 members. They were Palestinian refugee, living in this camp from past ten years. When she arrived at camp, all rooms were already brimming with people from Syria. Every month thousands of refugees were reaching camp in search of safe shelter from war affected country. In this dreadful time, that family had been kind enough to share their apartment with three orphaned children.

Life was tough in crowded dingy camp. Open electric wires spread like spider webs across the streets, running from building to building throughout alleyways. Power cuts and electrocution was common in this area. It was last week only, when a young boy got tangled in those wires while running here and there playfully. He tripped and lost his life. And this was the story of camp! Problems were many, earning was scanty, and the thing that was of least worth was LIFE.

“If you don’t try to write a memorable story, it will never be one! Be hero in your story, and make sure that it is the one that world remembers, one that inspires others.”

After living at camp for past two years, Shazia was no more a little girl. Responsibilities had turned her mature beyond her age. She along with her brothers used to pick bricks for construction, and carry them to site. They earned near about 4 dollars each and that was bare minimum for daily needs, let alone schooling, health care and other amenities.

Today was her birthday! In camp, every day was same, and thus apart from her nobody remembered it! While she was at work, carrying bricks on her head, memories of her last birthday with her parents came gushing to her.

She was hoping around in verandah wearing her pistachio green colored embroidered frock. Her mom was occupied in kitchen preparing her favorite dishes for the special day. Her father had gifted her doctor kit, a symbolic gift for his little princess who wished to become a Doctor on growing up. “Abba! I’ll study at a big university and then we will move to city, and then when I start working, you can stop working. You and ammi can spend all the time roaming here and there in city having fun, and I’ll earn a lot for five of us!” chimed Shazia.

“Will you move little faster?”, shouted contractor on site. Shazia came back to bitter reality. After finishing work, she took some time off, and sat alone at park’s bench.

Maybe because it was her birthday, or may be just a coincidence, but she was missing her past more profoundly today. Random memory came floating to her mind. She remembered a happy sunny day; her family had gone to nearby park with picnic basket for a day out. Her brothers were taking their turn on slide, and her mother was standing beside them making sure they didn’t get hurt. Shazia was sitting with her father on lush green grass. Her father said, “Shazia! You know our life is a story that is being written till our last living day. Once, we die, story ends. Some stories create an impact, some are dull and without any remarkable incident. But every life has a story”. Unable to understand the depth of her father’s thought, Shazia asked, “Papa! Who is author of our story? Is God writing it?” Her father laughs at this innocent question, cuddles his daughter in his arms and says “No my love! God just initiates this story by giving us life. But we ourselves are author of our story! Always remember! If you don’t try to write a memorable story, it will never be one! Be hero in your story, and make sure that it is the one that world remembers, one that inspires others.”

sabra-shatilla

-Shatilla Camp

The flashback ends and Shazia leans back on bench. What has she become? Is she even the same Shazia who was full of hope and aspirations once! If Ammi and Abbu would see her today, would they even recognize her as their Shazia? Sadness of years that had passed away, frustration of situations in present and depression of having uneventful future takes toll on her. She bursts in to tears. Why doesn’t it feel like her story! Sobbing alone on a park bench she shouts into oblivion, “This is not my story! It wasn’t supposed to proceed this way! I would have never narrated it this way”.

Who was telling the story? And whose story was it anyway?

The words fluttered and flew in the wind.

After the outburst, she sat bundled over there for some time and kept crying because of all the resentment that had piled up inside her.

How else will the sun rise if it won’t set? Darkness is inevitable, but so is sun rise. The break down that Shazia had on her fifteenth birthday, turned into a resolution. She decided to change track of her story. Her life is a blessing given to her by her parents. She cannot let it pass so indecisively. She makes up her mind to resume her education, and quit her daily wage job. Also she needs to find better source of income for three of them.

UNRWA operated a primary health care centre, one day school and one night school at camp. She enrolled herself and her brothers at night school. While her brothers continued their daily wage job, she requested Doctor Ahmad Shiabi at health care centre to take her up as an assistant. Doctor Shiabi had previously diagnosed Shazia when she was sick, and knew that she was mature and intelligent girl. He agreed to hire her at a monthly salary of 52 $. Soon she started learning nitty-gritty’s of health care and hygiene. In a camp hoisting such large number of people, patients were numerous and thus work was also never ending. But this was her childhood’s dream, and thus she enjoyed her job. Work for welfare gave satisfaction to her disrupted soul and mind.

When one finds inner peace, things start to align in a better way. Shazia now started saving some part of collective income that she and her brothers managed to earn. In a year, they saved enough to start a stall for selling yoghurt and tomatoes. Alif and Rizwan manned this stall, so that they can study better and continue earning a living without doing laborious work.

One day Doctor Shiabi at camp asked Shazia if she could take a session about basic first aid for women at camp, as he had some emergency and couldn’t take session today, and as the event had been priory announced, it couldn’t be postponed as well. Shazia was unsure, but she agreed to it.

Session went well, and everyone appreciated her. This gave her confidence regarding her knowledge sharing skills. She told Doctor Shiabi how she enjoyed this session, and is ready to take such sessions in future. Being always occupied in too many chores, this was a delight to him also in past one year Shazia had created a positive impression on him with her hard work and dedication. He wanted her to have a bright future, and thus he readily agreed.

One day after Shazia had winded up taking a session, a young woman in mid twenties came to her, and she introduced herself “Hi Shazia! Great session it was! I am Cathie; I am a volunteer for UNRWA.”

Shazia said, “Hi Cathie! It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Shazia I am here in collaboration with a NGO, which is trying to identify twenty bright young women, for whom they will fund higher education. I am really impressed by your awareness and knowledge for health care. Can you share your educational background with me?”

Elated to know about this initiative, Shazia said, “I am attending night school at camp. But I would love to get this opportunity. I have great deal of interest in medicine and science, and wish to study them. It has been my dream since I was a little girl!” She was so excited, but was trying to be calm and failing at it miserably just by shear possibility of having an opportunity to fulfill her and her father’s dream.

Within a month and half formalities for educational program were completed, and her formal education began. She was also getting a generous student stipend. By adding up their savings, she was able to afford better education for her brothers.

It’s been two years now, Shazia is studying at medical school. Alif will be completing his schooling by next year; he plans to take up a scholarship funded course at an American University in Social Welfare. Rizwan is still in school, he has interest in sports more than studies. He recently got selected for School’s football team.

 

Tentschools

Shazia remembers her father’s words “If you don’t try to write a memorable story, it will never be one! Be hero in your story, and make sure that it is the one that world remembers, one that inspires others.”

Once again, Shazia is sitting alone at a park bench. But this time she is not the depressed girl she once was due to circumstances. Hope has taken place of sadness, and action has taken place of complains. She has learnt that it is just not us who write our story. Situation and other people do play part in creating its plot. But the climax is always in our hand. One can surrender to destiny, and like a dead fish go with the flow, have no control over story of their life and thus end up with a tale not worth remembering. Or one can fight back, and take charge, write it the way they want it to be, and turn their tale into a saga.

Her saga is not complete yet, and it won’t be till the last day, but she will keep improvising it till her last day and till the last page. She won’t let her story be the one that is easily forgettable. She will make this story remarkable page after page.

~ Prachi

 

Prachi Jain is a young Indian writer. She has one simple philosophy for life, “At the end, we all will just have bagful of stories to sum up the life we lead, make sure to collect the most memorable ones.”