Afghanistan’s Living Hell for Women

February 18, 2012
Sahar Gul was just 14 years old when she was married off to a man more than twice her age in the Bhaglan province of northern Afghanistan.
 
Upset by her refusal to become a prostitute, Sahar’s new family kept her in a windowless basement for months, torturing her by pulling out her nails and removing chunks of her flesh with pliers.
 
This happened last year. It is not an isolated incident.
 
Afghanistan remains the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman.
Estorai was a 22-year-old young mother living in Kunduz province until early this year. She was pregnant with her second child when the threats began. Sher Mohammad, her husband, was unhappy their firstborn was a girl. Estorai’s husband made plain he would kill her if she gave him another daughter.
Estorai lived under this death sentence throughout her pregnancy, knowing her life depended on the sex of the child in her womb. Towards the end of last year Estorai gave birth to another baby girl. Within weeks she was dead, strangled. Estorai’s husband hasn’t been seen since. 
In November last year, a group of Taliban supporters in Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan, dragged a mother and daughter from their house and began stoning them. Someone had apparently reported the women for being engaged in “moral deviation and adultery.” Whether the women were taking too long to die or the men were concerned with getting caught is not clear, but at some point the murderers stopped stoning the women and shot them dead. The executions took place in Ghazni City, three hundred meters from the governor’s office. No one tried to intervene.
Then there’s the story of Gulnaz, jailed for 12 years for being raped—guilty of “adultery by force.” Gulnaz was released from prison after an international outcry, but her only real chance of survival now is to marry her rapist. If she doesn’t, she’ll be cast out by her family, and probably murdered for the “shame” she has brought upon them. 
It’s a shocking litany, but according to this regularly updated list, there’s much, much more. It makes for difficult reading.
How do we square these stories with the official line coming from the Afghan government? The one that says the plight of women has greatly improved under the coalition-backed administration? It’s true, both constitutionally and practically, great strides have been made since the Taliban were bombed out of power in 2001. 
Women, under the new Afghan constitution, are equal to men in the eyes of the law. They have the right to an education and they have the right to work.
But the reality on the ground is very different. 
Ghazni City, where the unnamed mother and daughter were stoned and shot, is nominally controlled by Western forces. In reality, the Taliban runs 11 of Ghazni’s 18 districts, and here they are up to their old tricks: banning girls from school, banning mobile phones, radios and televisions, and (this is a new one to The Grit) stopping men and women from getting married together because it’s thought the bride makes too much noise walking to the wedding hall, disturbing the men.
The coalition’s willingness to negotiate with the Taliban as part of its withdrawal from Afghanistan sends a very depressing message to women. The headway that has been made over the last 10 years suddenly looks very fragile if the Taliban can get their hands back on the levers of power.
Hillary Clinton has publicly stated she is determined not to let any gains be reversed. The Secretary of State says she is working to ensure the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan does...
...nothing which sets back the rights and the security of women... I feel that it is part of my responsibility to do all that I can to ensure that whatever the United States is part of in trying to resolve this conflict, we do nothing that undermines the gains that have been made for women. 
Yet in the same interview Clinton admits:
...life for many Afghan women is not that much different than it was a hundred years ago, 200 years ago. 
Which somewhat undermines her point.
In some parts of Afghanistan, yes, there has been progress on women’s rights, but in reality Afghanistan remains the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman.
Despite Hillary Clinton’s pledges, no one has any illusions about the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan and what it means for women. Only a fool would claim the situation is going to improve. 
The best chance any of us have of stopping the abuse, rape and torture in Afghanistan is to support the organizations that are documenting it and campaigning against it
Otherwise, stories like Sahar’s, Estorai’s, and Gulnaz’ will never get heard, and the daily hell which passes for life in Afghanistan will continue, for many women, indefinitely.
This article also appeared in The Grit. You can take action to put an end to violence against women by going here.

blog comments powered by Disqus

WARNING: Reading Alan Grayson's Twitter feed may be hazardous to your IQ

June 26, 2016  08:26 AM

Oh brother. We shall overcome. — Rep. Alan Grayson (@AlanGrayson) June 23, 2016 @AlanGrayson The Bill of Rights? — takashi yamamoto (@drunkenalpaca) June 24, 2016 Ever since Rubio announced he isn’t retiring from politics (and looks to be leading in the polls), Representative Alan Grayson has been doing his best impression of a teary, dramatic, […]

The post WARNING: Reading Alan Grayson’s Twitter feed may be hazardous to your IQ appeared first on twitchy.com.

SHOCKER: 'Hamilton' star who rapped about Obamacare will fundraise for Hillary

June 25, 2016  11:15 PM

The cast of "Hamilton" will add an extra performance to help "dead broke" grandmother of two Hillary Clinton.

The post SHOCKER: ‘Hamilton’ star who rapped about Obamacare will fundraise for Hillary appeared first on twitchy.com.

Is Mia Love really snubbing Donald Trump by skipping the GOP convention?

June 25, 2016  10:08 PM

Mia Love's status as "rumored" VP pick came from a former Donald Trump staffer who admitted he wasn't part of any VP conversations.

The post Is Mia Love really snubbing Donald Trump by skipping the GOP convention? appeared first on twitchy.com.

'So many lies': Democrats might have to pass their own party platform to find out what's in it

June 25, 2016  06:21 PM

If the hot mess that is the GOP is getting you down, take comfort in knowing that the hammering out of the Democrat Party platform was pretty ugly.

The post ‘So many lies’: Democrats might have to pass their own party platform to find out what’s in it appeared first on twitchy.com.

'Rainbows on his mind': Times Square billboards announce America's first LGBTQ national monument

June 25, 2016  05:18 PM

The Stonewall Inn is now the centerpiece of the Stonewall National Monument and joins other "hallowed ground where history was written."

The post ‘Rainbows on his mind’: Times Square billboards announce America’s first LGBTQ national monument appeared first on twitchy.com.

FSM Archives

10 year FSM Anniversary

More in PUBLICATIONS ( 1 OF 25 ARTICLES )