The Plight of the Afghan Woman

Abdullah Qazi
December 9, 2010

The vast majority of Afghanistan’s population professes to be followers of Islam. Over 1400 years ago, Islam demanded that men and women be equal before God, and gave them various rights such the right to inheritance, the right to vote, the right to work, and even choose their own partners in marriage. For centuries now in Afghanistan, women have been denied these rights either by official government decree 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. They are still forced into marriages and denied a basic education. Numerous school for girls have been burned down and little girls have even been poisoned to death for daring to go to school.

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A Poem Dedicated to Afghan Women


I remember you…

when you have no choice, no voice, no rights, no existence
when you have no laughs, no joy, no freedom, no resistance
your pain, your agony, your silence, your loneliness
your anger, your frustration, your cries, your unhappiness

I remember you…

when you are abused, attacked, beaten and veiled
when you are tortured, strangled, choked and almost killed
you feel numbness, nothingness, lifelessness and tears
your are a shadow, a ghost, a creature with many fears

I remember you…

when you in the darkness, stillness of a star-less night
lift your arms to the sky, with sadness and fright
and ask the universe with eyes full of tears and pain
why all these crimes? for what reason? can anyone explain?

I remember you…

when you finally will rise and stand on your feet!
and say ” No! I will not stand for anymore defeat!”
you will break the chains, burn the veil and destroy the walls!
you will scream with all your might “Damn you all!”

I remember you…

when you take the solemn oath that you will struggle, resist and fight
that you will gain your freedom with all your might
that you will never give up, no matter how heavy the cost
never again will you be confused, pitiful and lost

I remember you…

when you gain your rights, reach your goals and hope(s)
but the path is hard, full of obstacles, you must learn how to cope
to cope while struggling for your ultimate goal
a-reborn woman, free, independent and whole

by Dr. Zieba Shorish-Shamley

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