Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Afghanistan and Women

Sahar Gul.
The woman shot by the Taliban in 19 times.
Sushmita Banerjee.                      
Noorzia Atmar.
Malala Yousufzai.
I could go on with the list, and it’d never be enough to tell you how grim the state of affairs challenging women in Afghanistan is.
The sole legislative instrument in Afghanistan governing women’s rights was passed in April 2009, and was revised later after the discriminatory provisions in it were sought to be changed. As much as the flurry of activity in an attempt to inch towards the troop drawdown next year has shown hope for change, the state of women in Afghanistan, especially in the rural region, remains much the same. Women are being brutally beaten, killed, abducted, tortured and prostituted. It doesn’t appear like women are safe anywhere at all – whether at home, or at the mercy of the warring factions, or even at the hands of those in charge with law enforcement, in certain places.
Consequently, these women are forced to turn to a terribly harsh reality where silence is the only option, for reporting or speaking out against the crime will wind up killing them. For those who seek to take up cudgels for them, the same fate might just about be awaiting them. There is no room for such a thing as justice: as Sahar Gul’s tormentors walk free, and Noorzia Atmar’s husband – the man who nearly killed her had the gumption to demand of her that he wouldn’t be prosecuted if she was ever killed, to which the court agreed.
Crimes against Women in Afghanistan continue. To be called the worst place on the planet to be a woman is one thing, but to justify it and continue doing so is a dangerous trend that simply needs to be brought to an end. The authorities in the country are incomparably quick to denounce the crimes, claiming that they would do anything in their capacity to ensure that the criminals are brought to book – but it all falls short at that point, as rhetoric remains just that, ceasing to turn into action as it rightfully should.
The fate of women in Afghanistan is inextricably tied to the patriarchy and gender-based discrimination that is inherent in the treatment meted out to women. It isn’t about the Taliban alone, but the fold of the abusive men includes anyone and everyone – only because of the safety net that the (absent) security sector provides. There are too many women in Afghanistan who have been, and are being beaten, burned or disastrously tortured. Crimes against women feel almost like a natural phenomenon given the ease with which it occurs. That legislation exists in denouncement of the crime and in penalty for those behind the crime is only one part of the story: no legislative instrument serves any purpose if it is not implemented or given the right action it needs, to see the light of day. There is a recognition of the fact that women are to be given their rights to enjoy – rights which are inherent, and only to be guaranteed by the state. But that alone is not enough – for what use are rights that remain confined to paper?
The key is to ascribe an element of humanity to the women who suffer these crimes. It is important to accord these women basic respect and dignified treatment – for until then, they will remain chattels that are tossed about uncaringly.

No comments:

Post a Comment