Project MonMa in Afghanistan

Project Monma travelled to Afghanistan to learn more about the situation of women’s rights in the country. We travelled to the two small villages of Eishkasheim and Shugnan along the border with Tajikistan and spoke to women and men about how they viewed women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has long been considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, domestic violence, sexual harassment and forced marriages are commonplace.

Patriarchal cultural norms and customs as well as the extreme interpretations of Islam are used to justify the subjugation of women which has contributed to the perpetuation of cycles of violence against them.

The perpetrators are often family members and a culturally sanctioned social system of shame makes it difficult for women to try and escape abusive situations.

The situation for women and girls was particularly bad during the Taliban era. Violence against women was officially sanctioned and women were banned from going to school, working, from leaving the homes without a male and for being able to choose their own clothing.

One young woman in a school in Eishkasheim said, ‘In some places in Afghanistan, if a woman doesn’t do what her husband says, then he can cut off her hands or face. They might do this if she wears tight clothes, or if she tries to leave the house without a male member the family. Girls might not be allowed to study, to have a party with her friends or go shopping. It’s really bad.’

‘Life is difficult for women in Afghanistan,’ she said. ‘Women don’t have the right to choose their husband, their father will give them to somebody. This is the tradition in Afghanistan, it’s really bad. I want to be able to marry who I want, but if I do, then they will punish me.’

‘There’s also a lot of violence against women,’ she explained further. ‘If a woman goes out and her husband doesn’t want her to, then when she comes back he might beat her or kill her. Women can’t wear short clothes and they always have to cover their hair or else they will be criticized.’

A 19 year old male high school student from Shugnan, a small village in the north of Afghanistan, by the Tajik border said,

‘Some people think that these are the rules of Islam. But Islam does not say that women should not study. Islam does not say that women should not go to university or be President. The people who believe these things are illiterate and because of this they oppress women and girls.’

A young girl in a school in Eishkasheim said, ‘There are still some people who say that women should stay in the house and should not work,’ explained one of the young women. ‘They say that men can work in an office but a woman cannot. They say that this is because of Islam and because of this, a woman should cover her face.’

Throughout the country, there are women who have not been allowed to go to school, simply because they are girls. In the areas that are still dominated by the Taliban, girls are completely banned from going to school.

Recently, in the western Farah province, armed men set fire to two girls schools just outside of the capital’s province, damaging the structure and teaching materials. Thousands of girls were kept out of school. Four other girl’s schools were attacked in nearby provinces.

Though according to the girls, the lack of education isn’t the only problem for women and girls in the country. Women’s movement and dress is strictly controlled in the country. In Eishkasheim, all of the women were completely covered in the blue burka. 

At the school, all of the women in the room agreed that they didn’t like the strict rules and did not want to be wearing the Burka, yet almost all of the women in the room were wearing one.

Sexual harassment and violence is another serious issue in Afghanistan.

One woman said, ‘it mostly happens when we walk in the market, but we have to stay silent when it happens. It’s a problem for women to walk alone.’

Some efforts have been made to improve the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan.

On March 4, a revised penal code was adopted by presidential decree. It incorporated all the provisions of the EVAW law while strengthening the definition of rape. However, a number of conservative members of parliament opposed the EVAW law. As a result, President Ghani ordered the Ministry of Justice to remove the EVAW chapter from the new penal code.

The Afghan government promised to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for women’s equal participation in issues surrounding peace and security, but has been delayed.

For now, the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan remains precarious. Until considerable efforts are made to shift attitudes that severely limits women’s freedom and girls rights to go to school as men’s rights to abuse women, then Afghanistan will remain one of the most dangerous country’s in the world to be a woman.

‘Afghanistan is not a good place for women,’ said the female teacher in Shugnan.

Indeed, the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan, is not good.

Project MonMa in Afghanistan

Project Monma travelled to Afghanistan to learn more about the situation of women’s rights in the country. We travelled to the two small villages of Eishkasheim and Shugnan along the border with Tajikistan and spoke to women and men about how they viewed women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has long been considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, domestic violence, sexual harassment and forced marriages are commonplace.

Patriarchal cultural norms and customs as well as the extreme interpretations of Islam are used to justify the subjugation of women which has contributed to the perpetuation of cycles of violence against them.

The perpetrators are often family members and a culturally sanctioned social system of shame makes it difficult for women to try and escape abusive situations.

The situation for women and girls was particularly bad during the Taliban era. Violence against women was officially sanctioned and women were banned from going to school, working, from leaving the homes without a male and for being able to choose their own clothing.

One young woman in a school in Eishkasheim said,

‘In some places in Afghanistan, if a woman doesn’t do what her husband says, then he can cut off her hands or face. They might do this if she wears tight clothes, or if she tries to leave the house without a male member the family. Girls might not be allowed to study, to have a party with her friends or go shopping. It’s really bad.’

‘Life is difficult for women in Afghanistan,’ she said. ‘Women don’t have the right to choose their husband, their father will give them to somebody. This is the tradition in Afghanistan, it’s really bad. I want to be able to marry who I want, but if I do, then they will punish me.’

‘There’s also a lot of violence against women,’ she explained further. ‘If a woman goes out and her husband doesn’t want her to, then when she comes back he might beat her or kill her. Women can’t wear short clothes and they always have to cover their hair or else they will be criticized.’

A 19 year old male high school student from Shugnan, a small village in the north of Afghanistan, by the Tajik border said,

‘Some people think that these are the rules of Islam. But Islam does not say that women should not study. Islam does not say that women should not go to university or be President. The people who believe these things are illiterate and because of this they oppress women and girls.’

A young girl in a school in Eishkasheim said,

‘There are still some people who say that women should stay in the house and should not work,’ explained one of the young women. ‘They say that men can work in an office but a woman cannot. They say that this is because of Islam and because of this, a woman should cover her face.’

Throughout the country, there are women who have not been allowed to go to school, simply because they are girls. In the areas that are still dominated by the Taliban, girls are completely banned from going to school.

Recently, in the western Farah province, armed men set fire to two girls schools just outside of the capital’s province, damaging the structure and teaching materials. Thousands of girls were kept out of school. Four other girl’s schools were attacked in nearby provinces.

Though according to the girls, the lack of education isn’t the only problem for women and girls in the country. Women’s movement and dress is strictly controlled in the country. In Eishkasheim, all of the women were completely covered in the blue burka. At the school, all of the women in the room agreed that they didn’t like the strict rules and did not want to be wearing the Burka, yet almost all of the women in the room were wearing one.

Sexual harassment and violence is another serious issue in Afghanistan.

One woman said, ‘it mostly happens when we walk in the market, but we have to stay silent when it happens. It’s a problem for women to walk alone.’

Some efforts have been made to improve the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan.

On March 4, a revised penal code was adopted by presidential decree. It incorporated all the provisions of the EVAW law while strengthening the definition of rape. However, a number of conservative members of parliament opposed the EVAW law. As a result, President Ghani ordered the Ministry of Justice to remove the EVAW chapter from the new penal code.

The Afghan government promised to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for women’s equal participation in issues surrounding peace and security, but has been delayed.

For now, the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan remains precarious. Until considerable efforts are made to shift attitudes that severely limits women’s freedom and girls rights to go to school as men’s rights to abuse women, then Afghanistan will remain one of the most dangerous country’s in the world to be a woman.

‘Afghanistan is not a good place for women,’ said the female teacher in Shugnan.

Indeed, the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan, is not good.

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