Afghanistan: a mountainous nation nestled in the Middle East with rampant instability and a fractured economy.
For the past fifteen years Afghanistan has become a place of warfare amongst poverty and discourse. Even though the Taliban no longer have any kind of power over the citizens of Afghanistan, its women are still feeling their presence. The political sphere has become a revolving door leaving Afghan citizens at odds for what’s to come next. With lack of stability and constant warfare, Afghanistan has become a tough place for women to prosper. In other words, they have been feeling the effects of life in a war torn nation with a constant revolving door of political leadership styles.
Research by Global Rights found that about 90 percent of all Afghan women experience psychological, physical, sexual violence, or are forced into a marriage. Most of the time, these atrocities are committed by none other than family members of victims rather than strangers. Even though people have started to build shelters and safe spaces for women, since the abuse is occurring inside the home, there is little that outside sources can really do to really address the situation on a global scale without education citizens.
Here are some facts… About 460 of every 100,000 births result in death. 85 percent of all Afghan women have no formal education and are illiterate. Each woman tends to have about six children, and about 10 percent of children die before they turn five years old. However, it’s also important to point out that fewer children are dying before age five. This number has decreased by half over the past few years. This recent increase was catalyzed by cleaner water, sanitation standards, and access to electricity.
These statistics in general are actually better than what they were two decades ago. During the time of the Taliban, women were not allowed to work, leave their homes without a male authority present, or seek medical assistance from a male. Women were required to cover themselves even their eyes. Women who used to have high paying jobs, like teachers or doctors, now were begging for any kind of income or working in prostitution. However, women accused of prostitution were publicly stoned in Kabul’s soccer stadium.
Because most women in Afghanistan are not literate, most of the ongoing activism is occurring from international proxies. However, because Afghan women are unable to advocate for themselves, the government has been able to leverage the political system against them.
For example, during 2009, President Karzai signed laws gravely affecting Shi’a Afghan females. Under the new regulation, women were not able to leave their homes unless they had legitimate excuses. Women were not allowed to work or receive an education unless their husband’s approved their notion. Martial rape would now be permitted and women had less of a right to guardianship in the event of a divorce. The law also made it impossible for women to gain property rights in a divorce situation as well. Although this law only applied to Shi’a women, about 20 percent of all Afghan females, the law highlights how inferior Afghan society perceives women.
Over the past fifteen years, about 30 percent more girls have been attending school, yet about one and a half million girls are still not enrolled in classes.
The legal age for marriage was recently changed from sixteen to seventeen. But many of the daily tasks women want to perform still must be approved by their male authority figures, husband or father. However, some extremists feel that when women leave the home they are dishonoring their families.
Women in Afghanistan are being bogged down by fundamentalist beliefs as well as the inherent poverty associated with warfare. In the aftermath of the devastation over the past few decades, there is much work needed to improve the living situation for not just women, but all people of Afghanistan. However, by encouraging education, and self sufficiency for women, Afghanistan could look to not only repair its infrastructure faster and build a better Afghanistan, but also a better next generation of tomorrow’s sons and daughters.
Because Afghan women cannot advocate for themselves, it is our job to hear their voices and do our best to understand the issues at hand, so we can work hand and hand with the Afghan government to continue to roll out more and more regulations that will catalyze a Afghanistan. With the help of the international community, we can all work to make Afghan women safer, and present in their society.