Friday, September 16, 2005
Women of Afghanistan
For centuries in Afghanistan, women had been denied various basic rights such as, the right to vote, the right to work, and even choose their own partners in marriage (things that WE, the women of 21st century take for granted). They were denied these rights either by official government or by their own husbands, fathers, and brothers.

During the rule of the Taliban (1996 - 2001), women were treated worse than in any other time or by any other society. They were forbidden to work, leave the house without a male escort, not allowed to seek medical help from a male doctor, and forced to cover themselves from head to toe, even covering their eyes. Women who were doctors and teachers before, suddenly were forced to be beggars and even prostitutes in order to feed their families.

Since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, many would agree that the political and cultural position of Afghan women has improved substantially. The recently adopted Afghan constitution states that "the citizens of Afghanistan - whether man or woman- have equal rights and duties before the law". So far, women have been allowed to return back to work, the government no longer forces them to wear the all covering burqa, and they even have been appointed to prominent positions in the government.

Despite all these changes many challenges still remain. The repression of women is still prevalent in rural areas where many families still restrict their own mothers, daughters, wives and sisters from participation in public life.

Numerous school for girls have been burned down and little girls have even been poisoned to death for daring to go to school. But that has not stopped some girls from atleast trying to achieve what they till now could only 'dream' off.

BBC news website's 'ONE DAY IN AFGHANISTAN' coverage, gives us a brief introduction of two such girls...who are fighting every day...to reach a self-respecting destination.

Sisters Raziya (14) and Yasamin (15) - two school students in Kabul - who talk about their daily routines, problems, and hopes for the future.

Raziya....

"My name is Raziya, and I attend school every day from 8am to 3pm in Kabul. I get home at about 4pm and eat a snack - some rice and cheese - before doing my homework. At school, my favourite subject is science. I want to be a doctor when I leave school, to treat the sick. Another of my favourite pastimes is football. I want to play every day, but I mainly play on Fridays with a girls' team. I really badly want to be in the best team, and to win!

Do the boys mind that we play football? They don't know!
Before, when the Taleban were in power, there were stories that they would kidnap children and cut off their fingers so their parents would pay them money - $200, $300."


Yasamin...

" Hi, I am Yasamin. I attend school like Raziya - in fact, we're in the same class. I want to work in a hospital, but although I leave school next year and I've been looking for job opportunities, I haven't found any yet. Life isn't easy. My brothers both work, but between them they only make enough money to allow us to eat. It's also difficult for us as girls. Walking in the streets is very bad. The boys really bother the girls. Sometimes they will force them into their cars, other times they will steal things from them."

Complete interview here....

There are things WE take for granted and get busy in our self-absorbed lives, without ever stopping once to think about the suffering of so many who have not been provided even with half the opportunities as us but who are yet strong enough to make their presence felt.
posted at 9/16/2005 07:07:00 PM | comments (3) | permalink

3 comments:

  1. With respect to women, in fact, the Afghani constitution is probably more progressive than even the Iraqi constitution, because it does not define freedom of the individual with respect to morality.
     — Blogger gawker, at 9/17/2005 12:34:00 AM 

  2. Insightful post, I hope the new steps Afghanistan is taking drive them in the right direction.
     — Blogger Akshay, at 9/17/2005 11:08:00 AM 

  3. Hi Sakshi:
    It's a nice insightful post and very true what you say.

    In fact, I recently finished reading a book" The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. It's a must read. Apart from the plot which is excellent, the picture he has depicted of Afghanistan during the Taliban rule, sends a chill down your spine. You wonder how people survived in those conditions.

    I do hope Afghani women progress from now on. Every individual ahs that right and no one can take it away.
     — Blogger Minal, at 9/17/2005 12:52:00 PM 

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