Thursday, 12 July 2012


Afghanistan has had a conventional patriarchal tribal system. Most sections of society in Afghanistan comprises people who by nature and culture are very conservative. This in turn leads to their propensity of possessing a fairly strict set of ideals when it comes to the issue of a woman’s honor. Afghanistan is a strongly male dominated society - a cultural setting which dates back to about thousands of years ago. The country has always remained an arena for local and foreign invasions and has rarely seen stability and peace.
Women in Afghanistan have enjoyed little liberty during the Taliban Era. Even men fell prey to the hardliner Taliban. I still remember when the Afghanistan Cricket team visited Pakistan to play a match in a one-day cricket series. I was startled to see that all the players had grown beards and no players dared to wear shorts even in their Warm-Up matches. The status of women was quite pathetic during the Taliban era.

Critics of the Taliban regime have believed that the Taliban treated their women under a stiff hand, through the implementation of orthodox religious laws. The women of Afghan were put behind veils. Any woman found without a “Burqa“ was submitted to the Jirga, or the Grand Afghan Jury, where she was treated shabbily. They were not allowed to go outside their homes without the parochial control of one of the male members of the house. One can find many videos on YouTube which show how women were beaten brutally in the public by Taliban hardliners and no one dared to stop them. This created a row among international human rights organizations, civil society organizations and also raised a furore in many a political circle. The US-led government  with President Hamid Karzai at the helm of affairs did succeed to some extent - it brought in certain changes to uplift the social status of women by allocating 25% seats for women in the lower houseof the Parliament, and 17% for the upper house and more importantly the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was formed in order to empower women socially, economically and politically.

The Supreme Court of Afghan issued orders in 2005 banning forced and under age marriage across the country. Though the Taliban-era has gone and the lives of people have come a full circle - yet the environment is not as friendly as it is seen. Many an Non-Government Organization face threats and challenges to work in conservative tribal areas. Hence the condition of women in  rural areas cannot be ascertained properly. Though the Ministry for Women’s affairs was incorporated by the Karzai government, it has not done much. The recent killing of the Minister for Women’s Affairs , Ms .Safia Amjan bears testimony to the fact that the threat for women in Afghanistan still looms large. Besides  this, many Non-Government Organizations have shifted their offices to Pakistan in the wake of  killing  and kidnapping of many activists and social workers in Afghanistan.

The irony lies in the fact that there are numerous members of the parliament who have clandestine affiliations with the Taliban and they want to retain the present status of women in Afghanistan. The reason is partially because they do not trust the Hamid Karzai government and  partly because of  the recent covert USA-Taliban alliance which has created a trust deficit between the government and warlords. The critics and media personnel based in  Afghanistan  believe that the current interim set up includes warlords which have strong relations with criminals and such warlords enjoyed huge influence that it was an uphill task for many International Organizations to work in vulnerable  areas.  The funding and development is not being made in a proper way. Many Human rights activists like Mariam Rawi, criticize current interim set up and maintains that it has  become hostage in the hands of  warlords. Human Rights Watch has to say this :

“Women in the country are still vulnerable to reprisal at the behest of different  factions  in the ongoing fighting “. 

BBC reports that the condition of women has not changed as the US and its Allies have pledged to  empower women along with the ouster of the Taliban regime. The Women of Afghanistan are not safe. Many tall claims were made by the international community to bring economic development in the country after destroying thousands of homes and making millions of poor Afghans homeless. The international donors made tall claims l that it made a huge investment in Afghanistan to alleviate the condition of people, but recent surveys illustrate a horrible picture of poor Afghan who are compelled to give off their daughter to the lenders because their parents could  not afford them. It is high time that the international community put stern efforts to assess real condition of Afghan women. The fate of women cannot be harmed and disparaged for the political pursuit of Afghanistan.

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