Women and the conflict in Afghanistan
Table of Contents
Background – the conflict
The War in Afghanistan, which began on October 7, 2001 as the U.S. military operation Operation Enduring Freedom, was launched by the Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the United States of America of America of America with the Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the United Kingdom, and Nato-led, UN authorized ISAF in response to the September 11 attacks. The aim of the invasion was to find the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking al-Qaeda members and put them on trial, to destroy the whole organization of al-Qaeda, and to remove the Taliban regime which supported and gave safe harbor to al-Qaeda.
The Taliban and women
While in power in Afghanistan, the Taliban became notorious internationally for their treatment of women. Their stated aim was to create “secure environments where the chasteness and dignity of women may once again be sacrosanct,” reportedly based on Pashtunwali beliefs about living in Purdah .
The Taliban’s policies also severely limited women’s freedom of movement. Women could travel only when accompanied by a male relative, which put a particular strain on female-headed households and Widow . In May 2001, a decree was issued by the Taliban, banning women from driving cars, which further limited their activities. The resulting seclusion of women to the home constituted a form of solitary confinement and also created obstacles to women meeting with each other. Women were harassed and beaten by the Taliban if their public appearance was perceived to be in contradiction with Taliban edicts. Women’s removal from the public space also meant that women could not play any role in the political process and were excluded from all forms of formal or informal governance. Afghan women suffered from Domestic violence and other types of violence for the past 25 years, not just under the Taliban regime.http://www.un.org/events/women/2002/sit.htm
Women’s role in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan
Since September 2001, Afghan women have begun to increase their activities. Numerous events were organized during the last few months by and with Afghan women’s organizations inside and outside Afghanistan, such as panel discussions, conferences and international meetings, in order to ensure that the experiences and needs of Afghan women would receive the needed attention in all efforts directed at the post-Taliban Afghanistan.
For the first time in many years, new opportunities have been presented for women to reclaim their rights as active participants in the governance, as well as in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Schools for girls are being reopened, and young women are enrolling in universities. Women are seeking to return to their former jobs as teachers, doctors and civil servants. Radio and television broadcasts in Kabul once again feature woman commentators.http://www.un.org/events/women/2002/sit.htm
Women in Afghanistan – 2009
The following is an excerpt from Amnesty International ‘s 2009 Report on Afghanistan. Although women increasingly participated in politics and public life, their rights remained constrained by social prejudice and violence within the home and by armed groups. The number of women holding senior ministerial positions decreased.
- On 28 September, Malalai Kakar, the highest ranking policewoman in Afghanistan, was killed by Taliban gunmen near her home in Kandahar.
- On 12 November, two men on a motorcycle used water pistols to spray acid on some 15 girls walking to school in Kandahar, blinding at least two of them and disfiguring several others. Ten Taliban insurgents were later arrested in connection with the attack.
Women suffered from high rates of domestic violence and had little, if any, recourse to legal protection. According to the AIHRC, 60 to 80 per cent of all marriages were Forced marriage and Child marriage occurred in high numbers. Women who sought to flee abusive marriages were often detained and prosecuted for alleged offences such as “home escape” or “moral” crimes that are not provided for in the Penal Code. http://thereport.amnesty.org/en/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan#discrimination-and-violence-against-women-and-girls
Access to education, in conditions of safety and security, is essential for realising the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of girls. In Afghanistan, many girls and women still live under daily threat for attending a school or teaching in one. Schools have been shut down during May 2009 after a spate of attacks on girls at school by the Taliban.http://www.afghanconflictmonitor.org/women/
In March, 2009, 300 Afghan women, protested to demand that Parliament repeal a new law that introduces a range of Taliban-like restrictions on women, and permits, among other things, marital rape.The law, approved by both houses of Parliament and signed by President Hamid Karzai, applies to the Shiite minority only. Women here and governments and rights groups abroad have protested three parts of the law especially. One provision makes it illegal for a woman to resist her husband’s sexual advances. A second provision requires a husband’s permission for a woman to work outside the home or go to school. And a third makes it illegal for a woman to refuse to “make herself up” or “dress up” if that is what her husband wants.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/world/asia/16afghan.html?em
- Afghan Women's Association International
- Afghanistan Unveiled
- Revolutionary Association of the Women in Afghanistan
- Wikipedia: War_in_Afghanistan_