Afghanistan:A place where women beg to die

Chief Joseph,the great Indian American,once said’The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.’;however,it seems no longer true as more and more women in Afghanistan go through gory circumstances just for standing up for their own rights.

A 23-year-old Afghan woman has described to the BBC how her husband tied her up and cut off both her ears in a domestic violence attack in the northern province of Balkh.

The woman – Zarina – is now in a stable but traumatised condition in hospital.

“I haven’t committed any sin,” she said. “I don’t know why my husband did this to me.”

The woman’s husband is on the run in Kashinda district following the attack, police have told local media.

Zarina told Pajhwok news that the unprovoked attack took place after her husband suddenly woke her up.

She was married at the age of 13, and told BBC that “relations with her husband were not good”.

Zarina complained that her husband had tried to prevent her from seeing her parents, she said in another interview, with Tolo News. She said she no longer wanted to remain married to him.

Zarina recovering in hospital (01 February 2017)

“He is a very suspicious man and often accused me of talking to strange men when I went to visit my parents,” she said.

She has demanded his arrest and prosecution.

Her account is the latest in a series of high-profile domestic abuse incidents and cases of violence against women in Afghanistan.

  • In January 2016, a young woman, Reza Gul [pictured, below], had her nose cut off by her husband in the remote Ghormach district of north-western Faryab province
  • Some months later, a woman was critically ill after being nearly beaten to death by her husband
  • In November 2015, a young woman was stoned to death in Ghor province after she had been accused of adultery
  • Earlier that year, a young Kabul woman, Farkhunda, was beaten and burned to death by a mob over false allegations she had set fire to a Koran
  • In September 2014, a man cut off part of his wife’s nose with a kitchen knife, in central Daykundi Province, according to police. It is not clear whether he was ever caught
  • The case of Aisha featured on the front cover of Time magazine in 2010, after the 18-year-old was mutilated by her husband who cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away
Reza Gul is waiting to be transferred for further treatment in Turkey

The Afghan government has repeatedly tried to introduce laws to protect women from domestic abuse.

But President Hamid Karzai during his time in power was unable – or unwilling – to sign off legislation even though it had been approved by both houses of parliament.

In 2014, for example, he ordered changes to draft legislation that critics said would severely limit justice for victims.

Mr Karzai’s successor, Ashraf Ghani, has also yet to give his assent to legislation passed by Afghan parliament late last year. It was drafted to protect women and children from violence and harassment.

A possible rebellion

In connection with recent attacks,women in Afghanistan have taken to the streets to voice out their grievances against the injustice metted out to them.

“It was a remarkable moment,” says Mosadiq, recalling the female protesters at Farkhunda’s funeral. “Unlike anything I have seen in my decades of campaigning for women’s rights in our country.”
Selay Ghaffer, 32, is a women’s rights activist and spokesperson for the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan — a small but outspoken political party based in Kabul and twenty provinces that fights for issues such as democracy, social justice and women’s rights.
But the opportunity was taken to deliver a clear message.
“So the women of Afghanistan showed that we will not keep silent anymore… And we are not ready to accept more brutality and violence against women,” said Ghaffer.
“So this is why we decided to carry the dead body of Farkhunda on our own shoulders and show to the world that not only men can do it and somehow broke the traditionalism that (a) man has to do this job.”
Surprisingly, she says that male onlookers supported their mission, although they are in the minority overall in the country. “Men (at the funeral), they said you have to do this, because this is how you can change the hatred in Afghanistan.
“Without men, it is not possible for women to get their rights,” she says. “So these men and women were working together. But at the same time, women need to step forward for their rights.”
Mosadiq says the fight for women’s rights was established a while ago.
“Women’s activism in Afghanistan is nothing new — the women’s rights movement has grown substantially since 2001, and has fought for and achieved some very significant gains.
“These gains are under threat now, however, and some are even rolled back. It’s essential that the government and its international partners do not allow this to happen.”

Ready for threats

Ghaffer herself has been subject to threats because of her work, received through emails and phone calls, at her home and office. But she says she knew what she was getting herself into.
“I knew it wasn’t an easy task. There might be many challenges and you have to lose your life when you are going and struggling for your rights.
“As a woman, I want to struggle more (for my rights), I want to have more people around me, to struggle with me.”
This,she said,was a beginning of a long battle.
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