Love crimes & violence against women in Afghanistan is a research by Amazon Rezai.
In this letter I am trying to figure out about the types of violence against women in Afghanistan. Finding an imagination on real women situation after 13 years of presents of international troops in the country, Afghan women gained a series of opportunities and challenges. In addition to the letter, a photo story, in power point format about common cases of violence happened and the Afghan feminist fights for women rights in Afghanistan will be attached. Traditions and religion affect on Afghan women lives and the history of feminism is the discussed.
Today, in all over Afghanistan women are practically ‘the first movers’. Some are the first female member in their family going to school, others to open a business or take public office. There is a tremendous awareness among Afghan women that they are trail-blazing for the next generation, for their daughters. As the first movers, women have changed the face of societies, while harsh cultural and social situations have encompassed them – wrong traditions, male-dominated environment and lack of legal support. From the other hand, international donations brought about women who act as agent changes, while, from the other hand, number of cases of violence against women are increasing. Considering the situations, the questions that might arouse is “Are women hopeful of changes? What was international community’s role for saving women right in Afghanistan?”
While, According to EU ambassador for Afghanistan, 87 percent of Afghan women have already experienced some form of violence, it is still one of the worst places for being a woman.
Afghan Human Rights in Afghanistan Organization
In 2013 I was awarded the global best blog Persian by “Deutsche welle”. Beside blogging in 2010 I got involved into the community and start social activities in Kabul.
As a human rights and social activist, I initiatively designed several Human Rights and Cultural Development campaigns to support women and minorities in the financial and technical aspects of public-donated mechanism.
As a social media activist I am proud of being the member of the “Paiwand” team, holding the first ever social media summit in Afghanistan in 2013.
To continue work for human rights, in Sweden, friends of mine and I have collected, processed and distributed news of human rights violations throughout the country using its pool of reporters. News stories are published to inform the general public as well as various groups in Afghan and international activists abroad. We strive to provide moral and legal supports for the victims of human rights abuses by swaying public opinions inside the country while seeking help from the international community.
The facts about violence against women
Violence against women is one of the most serious human rights issues in
Afghanistan. Although important achievements have been made in different areas such as education, health and participation of women in civil and political spheres over last decade, deep-rooted cultural and social issues still exist against realization of and their freedom in many parts of our country. Violence against women is one of the serious violations
Types of violence against women in Afghanistan1
- Physical violence 26.7%
- a) Physical violence in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.
(b) Physical violence within the community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution, beating, kicking, slapping, hitting with stones, burring with boiling water, pulling out hair and poisoning, cutting of body members by using of knife and weapons.
*Beating women is a common form of violence, it is almost culturally accepted
- Sexual violence 7.7%
Sexual violence against women is committed in various forms such as sexual assaults, illegitimate sexual affair/ sodomy, sexual degradation and ill -treatment, forced prostitution, forced abortion and etc.
Sexual assault is considered a very serious and concerning sexual violence against women in Afghanistan.
Sexual violence against women has negative and painful social, cultural and economic impacts on women in Afghanistan. In spite of physical injuries, women who are victims of sexual violations face with other problems such as psychological problems, AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy.
Due to the nature of sexual issues as a taboo in Afghan traditional society, therefore, addressing of these problems has been considered odious in the society. In addition, this problem is related to a family or tribe’s honor and prestige. Therefore, its publication is prevented and usually kept as a secret.
- Verbal and psychological violence 24.3%
Humiliation, insults and threats are the common forms of such violence that could have a serious effect on the character and spirit of women and leave adverse consequences on social and personal life of them, and finally encounter them with discouragement, isolation, frustration, anxiety and stress, and even make them feel hatred against others. In this situation they would become more vulnerable against the challenges, constraints and difficulties of life. Evidences show that verbal and psychological violence can even lead to suicide, self-immolation and dangerous ganglia in women’s lives
Verbal and psychological violence against women can happen within the family and in the local community in the form of street harassment, and put women in a dangerous and difficult situation.
- Economic violence 21.5%
Lack of economic autonomy of women in a family environment and their dependency on their husband caused women in the family environment as well as at the social level enjoys a lower status compared to men. On the other hand this issue has caused women to
stay away from decision-making positions regarding family affairs. Their will has not been considered in decisions taken for the family affairs. Economic violence against women occurs in different forms and based on the traditions dominant in the societies of Afghanistan, it appears with all its intensity.
Lack of authority on the family expenditures is another form of economic violence. Deprivation from right to heritage also, Selling of precious properties specially jewelries, Prevention from work and employment of women includes, misappropriation of their salary and wages.
- Other forms of violence 19.9%
The right to education, right to marriage and right to have access to health facilities are the basic rights of individuals that still eligible women and children are deprived of these rights due to some reasons. Many eligible girls cannot go to school. A high percentage of mothers lose their lives while giving birth to their baby.
Unpleasant cultural patterns have paved the way for early marriages such as Bad and Exchange marriages which all are happening by force.
Lack of consideration of legal age for marriage are often originated from the dominating character of undesirable traditions and customs that has put children especially girls in a difficult situation and resulted in many negative consequences. Nowadays honor killings, ascending trend of divorce, unwilling and child marriages are the main factor for running away from home.
Denial of the right to education, exchange marriages, giving as Bad and deprivation from going outside of the home, right to choose spouse, forced marriages, heavy dowries, expulsion from home… are just a few examples of a rollback of women’s rights in recent years in Afghanistan even where revolutions and political transitions have been hailed in the West.
Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
One of Afghanistan’s important achievements in the last 10 years or so was the establishment of legal supports for human rights and in its national laws. The Afghan Constitution has emphasized on in several articles and has bound the government to make and carry out programs fruitful for women’ rights. Article 7 of the Constitution has urged the government to follow the international instruments and treaties that have been signed or ratified by it. But last year a landmark law to prevent violence against women was pushed out of parliament, the quota of seats for women on provincial councils was cut, and a proposal
to reintroduce stoning as a punishment for adultery – used more against women than men – put forward by the justice ministry.
But president Karzai rejected the law to parliament for changes.
It’s still unclear what the government might do to amend the law, but it points to two particular areas of concern.
The first is to clarify that relatives of a battered person will be allowed to give voluntary testimony, and the second is to restrict exemptions on testimony only to spouses, not all relatives. Even with those changes, this law will still cause significant damage to women who have experienced abuse and are seeking help from the justice system.
Why do husbands, fathers, brothers-in-law, even mothers-in-law brutalize the women in their families? Are these violent acts the consequence of a traditional society suddenly, after years of isolation and so much war, being hurled into the 21st century? And which Afghans in this society are committing the violence? There are significant differences between the Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Pashtuns, the most populous and conservative group and the one that has dominated political life since the 1880s.
For example in the Pashtun crescent, from Farah Province in the west to Kunar in the northeast, life was—and in many ways still is—organized around the code known as Pashtunwali, the “way of the Pashtun.” The foundation of Pashtunwali is a man’s honor, judged by three possessions—zar (gold), zamin (land), and zan (women). The principles on which the honorable life is built are melmastia (hospitality), nanawati (shelter or asylum), and badal (justice or revenge). But in other ethnics such as Hazara and Tajiks, women have better situation they can participate in social and political issues, sing, study and work.
According to this sample and many other above named forms of Violence, it seems violence will remains a threat to women in Afghanistan, where horrible traditions appear as a powerful role in every aspect of women life.
Tradition and religion are two effective phenomena affected afghan life, many injustices happen for women under the shelter of Islamic sharia.
Mullahs as effective persons and leaders in society, mostly in urban areas order and encourage daily violence such as beating, force and early marriage among the family as they say it is guidance of religion and needed for women to obey their husband or father.
Nowadays intellectuals advocate the separation of religion from politics. They believe it will decrease pressure on women, and decrease government competences to judge the violence cases.
Burqa & Freedom
Beside lack of education/literacy, lack of job opportunities, domestic violence, and forced marriage/dowry payments, new survey of Asia foundation shows that Afghan women are losing ground in the same area in compare of the past years.
Burqa is a very important Symbol that shows the degree of freedom in Afghanistan. Depends on existence of the number of women wearing long blue color cloths in the society, you can approximately measure the amount of violence against women, the degree of freedom of speech, literacy and even women political participation.
New generation who knows the Burqa as a symbol of violence against women, which separate the world of the person under it by around!
Mostly the families, who have a big control on the women and see the women as an instrument more than a human, use to order their women to wear burqa outside.
After Taliban regime women start practicing to ban burqa in society but as we are getting near to the exit time of foreign forces from the country, increasing using burqa in urban area shows the fear of people form another internal war. Burq was and is a helpful instrument for Taliban regime when they were rolling the country to show their power on controlling women and now for suicide bombing they (men) wear burqa and attacks to the goals.
Love marriages crimes
In Afghanistan, where people are very sensitive to the word of “love.” People do have feelings of love: they can be love fatherhood, motherhood, sisters and brothers; they can also love their children.
But if someone truly falls in love with a girl or a boy, Afghan traditionalists cannot tolerate it. Many women and men have lost their lives because of falling in love and wanting to marry their beloved. When the younger generation looks at the traditional Afghan attitude toward love, and then they fall in love with someone, they do not know what they should to do, marry, leave or run away of home…
A big campaign held by civil activist in 2013 in favor of a love marriage case happened in Bamian city, a boy belonged to Hazara ethnic fell in love with a Tajik girl and both run away of the home.
Government stopped and punished the boy but people support this couple by protesting and campaigns. They asked the world to help and save their love.
In past years it was a big step toward chooses freedom and positive change of young generation about LOVE marriage.
How do you evaluate Afghan women’s right in the recent years?
Generally, awareness of gender equality and women’s rights issues has been increased significantly in the past several years. And many issues, such as violence against women, and sexual violence in conflict, are now openly discussed in the society, covering by media and supporting by civil activists. In addition, women’s participation in the recent presidential election was significant and this fact can be considered as a positive factor in Afghan women’s rights despite all challenges Afghan women confront in the society.
Expansion and enhancement of civic activities in a positive, constructive and consistent way is a big achievement helpful for fighting against violence, as a social activist, I see how people around me are engaging to social activities after positive influence of social activist campaigns on changing governmental organization
High ability of educated women in implementation of democratic values using social Relativity good power of traditional and social media to create secure platforms for women rights activities in Afghanistan is also one of achievements I cannot ignore.
On the other hand, it’s been pessimistically a bad year for women’s right given the increasing number of violence against women in different provinces of the country. (Around 25%) Cutting off a woman’s nose by her husband in Daykundi, the safest city for women, is a typical example of lack of law enforcement in legal areas regarding women’s right in Afghanistan. Furthermore, an Afghan father’s rape to his own daughter leading to her pregnancy and even delivering and raising two children is a horrifying fact which also created a huge shock among Afghan people. And rejection of The Violence Against Women Act by the Afghan Parliament in 2013 shows relative deterioration of women’s right activities in some points in Afghanistan.
Challenges toward implementing women rights
- Lake of data and statistics in order to real number of accrued violence
- The low level of awareness among the people and lack of their knowledge about their basic rights
- Human rights and democracy fund-based activities cause superficial results leaving no focus on real challenges and infrastructure services on women right and democracy building.
- Government corruption in women rights and democracy transgressors trial, government has a vital role to provide social change; and promote social justice. It is thought of as a society that affords individuals and groups fair treatment and a just share of the benefits of society. Social justice often equated with the concepts of human rights and equality.
- Islamic sharia as source of violence
- Lake of strong official voice to counter that reactionary voice, We need strong government policy
After 2001 fall of Taliban, there have been advances in protecting women’s rights, but a lot of them could not have altered women’s status in the society. Women really do not have a place to go if they’re being abused. That is, lack of access to judiciary institutions is a remarkable issue for women. There are women’s shelters, but they’re not universally accepted in Afghanistan, and they’re constantly under threat of attack or being closed down.
If a woman’s husband is beating her on a daily basis, she can’t just ask for a divorce. It’s not acceptable in the society. And if she does ask for a divorce, often her family will kill her because it brings shame to her family or she’ll be put in prison. I’ve met dozens of women in prison who’ve done nothing more than try to ask for a divorce. The international community is going to be pulling out Afghanistan, and Afghans need to make decisions for themselves. If these are the decisions they’re making, it’s pretty terrifying. It’s a very scary future for women in Afghanistan.
There is a need for continued monitoring, service delivery, and condemnation of all forms of violence against women and girls in Afghanistan—and around the world. The litmus test of Afghanistan’s transition and development will be the extent to which women’s and girls’ rights are recognized, protected, and realized.
Under the Taliban, women were confined to their homes. They were not allowed to work or attend school. They were poor and without rights. They had no access to clean water or medical care, and they were forced into marriages, often as children.
Today, women in the vast majority of Afghanistan live in precisely the same conditions, with one notable difference: they are surrounded by war. The conflict outside their doorsteps endangers their lives and those of their families. It does not bring them rights in the household or in public, and it confines them even further to the prison of their own homes. Military escalation is just going to bring more tragedy to the women of Afghanistan.