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They made me invisible, shrouded, and non-being
A shadow, no existence, made silent and unseeing
Denied of freedom, confined to my cage
Tell me how to handle my anger and my rage?
-- Zieba Shorish-Shamley, from Afghanistan.
In 2012, more than 4,000 reports of abuse of women were recorded just over seven months by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. This is just a fraction of what happens in Afghanistan. This abuse effects their safety, culture, marriage, and education. Step into their shoes because this needs to be stopped.
Health and safety of women in Afghanistan is intolerable. Growing up, boys are fed the most in the family. Boys also have the privilege of playing outside the most, because girls need to stay inside and learn the techniques of her mother for future reference. At the age of fourteen or older, the girl is most likely out of the house and pregnant. At least one woman dies every two hours birthing a child in Afghanistan. That’s 4,380 women dying every year just because of child birth. They aren’t healthy and too young to bear a child. They’re also lacking the right doctors and medicine to go through the procedure safely. Also, the current health and human rights care of Afghanistan’s Taliban are slim-to-none. The combined affects of war-related trauma and abuse by Taliban officials are noticed but unsolved. In a poll taken by Oxfam International 87% of Afghan women said they were sexually and physically abused at home by a husband or distant family member. Half of them were sent to jail as a result from running away from home. Earlier this year, a 15-year-old girl who had been sold into marriage by her mother was found locked in the basement bathroom of her in-laws’ home. She had been denied food and water and had been tortured for refusing to go into prostitution. These are the kinds of things we as Americans watch as a Saturday night horror film.
Marriage is not something women get to choose. Afghanistan is a patriarchal society, which means it is commonly believed that men are entitled to make decisions for women. By the age of thirteen, women are expected to be forced to marry who their parents choose. Between the age of seventeen and nineteen, women will most likely be pregnant with their spouses child(Some poor families will actually sell their daughter to a much older man in turn for a month or two of food supplies). A prosecutor told the United Nation (UN) researchers: “A woman by the name of Storay was strangled and killed by her husband because she was birthing female children and not male.” If this happened in the United States, it would be on the front page of New York Times immediately. Millions of unborn girls are left outside because men simply don’t want them. This is very common in Afghanistan but is often kept secret as well. Women have to go through so much more than men if they want a divorce. If she does seek divorce, she has to have the approval of her spouse, and needs witnesses who can testify in court that the divorce is justified. All men have to do is announce it and most likely kick her out of the house. It happens so much that when the UN researchers teamed up with the nation of Afghanistan’s police, the police only said they got 430 reports in an eight month period. The UN researchers received over 4,000 reports. This shows that the women of Afghanistan are too frightened to report their abuse to the police until they have been severely abused (cuts, bruises, swelling). As a result, forced marriage leads to cruelty of women.
The rights of women are very alien to men of Afghanistan, especially when it comes to school. Boys get to go to school until they’re about seventeen, when girls go to school until they’re fourteen. This is an ongoing downturn that still happens to this day. 15% of females in Afghanistan can read and write. Also, marriage at a young age almost doubles the high school drop out rate. During the Taliban Regime, women would hide their school supplies underneath their burqas and secretly have school lessons at a teacher’s home. Word spread and the Taliban soon found out. The Taliban burned down every school they could find and shot every teacher and student that confessed when questioned. For example, in 2012, 15 suspects were taken into custody by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) because they were part of an anti-school attack in North Afghanistan. Although, during that time Pakistan was refusing to ship school supplies to Afghanistan in fear that Taliban would destroy the shipment and their money would be wasted. Overall, women’s education is very slim.
Over 99% of Afghans practice Islam. This is the second largest religion following Christianity. The Arabic word Islam means “submission” or “submitting the will of God.” So if the Lord sets directions for them to follow, they do so. For example, the dress code is very strict in Afghanistan. It is required you wear a burka when you are in public. A burka is a large cloth that covers the entire head and body. You see through a cloth mesh sewn into the burka. So walking down the street, you’d see no part of a woman’s body besides possibly her eyes and hands. Many religious Islam texts state that men and women are equal in afterlife. Saying: “men and women are created from a single soul” and “one person does not come before the other.” But as you look around, it is quite opposite. Women are forced to wear a burka in public, not allowed to work, and are more likely to get executed under the Taliban. Are Muslim’s following the word of God?
As a final point, there is no way but up for the women of Afghanistan. If they believe that one day, men will look back at their actions and see how cruel this is. There will come a day. Forced marriage, less education, poor safety, you can still believe high hopes come with higher conclusions.