4 min read
12 Aug

In September 2001, the United States attacked Afghanistan at the head of an international coalition, and by the end of 2001, the government of Afghanistan was out of the hands of the Taliban. By the following year, many schools in this country were reopened. In 2003, the right to education of women and girls was recognized in the new law of this country.

Article 44 of the country's constitution states: The government is obliged to implement effective programs in order to balance and develop education for women, as well as improve education and eliminate illiteracy in the country. Nearly 20 years have passed since the fall of the Taliban regime, a time when Afghan women suffered the harshest discrimination and strictures from this government, now the women of this country have achieved many successes in the field of asserting their rights. Those who did not even have the right to study during the Taliban era, now by being in the society, they have been able to participate in some different political and social activities.

In the latest statistics, the National Bureau of Statistics and Information stated that the most important problems related to Afghan women are domestic violence, forced marriage and lack of financial support. In the field of women's employment, the principle of equality between men and women in the new constitution of Afghanistan greatly contributed to the improvement of women's employment in this country after 2001.

In 2001, the transitional government of this country allocated 10 million dollars to the Ministry of Women's Affairs to strengthen the position of women in society, which was the main effort of this ministry to create employment for women. Now women are in a relatively better position than during the Taliban era. Women are present in the parliament and make up more than 33% of teachers. The number of female judges reaches 240 and there are several women in the cabinet. More than ten women have been chosen as deputy ministers and four women as ambassadors.

With the fall of the Taliban, women gained the right to vote and be elected according to the country's constitution, and thus it was specified in the constitution and the election law that at least two women candidates from each province must enter the parliament. With this calculation, at least 68 women from the 34 provinces of Afghanistan can be elected as representatives in the House of Representatives and 23 women in the Senate of Afghanistan. In the field of health, Article 52 of the 2003 Constitution of Afghanistan mentions health care for the general public as one of the priorities of the new government. According to this law, the government must provide free facilities for the prevention and treatment of diseases to all citizens. In this way, it can be seen that the gender view in the constitution regarding the issue of health and treatment has completely disappeared and there is no sign of the law prohibiting women from visiting hospitals and medical centers.

Great progress has been made in terms of the health of babies and mothers and the reduction of their death rates. Also, with the presence of women in society and not forcing them to wear the burqa, their mental health has improved significantly compared to the Taliban era. Also, in 2009, the law prohibiting violence against women was approved in this country. This article is included in the twenty-fourth and fifty-fourth articles of the Constitution of Afghanistan. This law defines violence against women and states many examples of it and also said: Violence is a crime, no one has the right to commit it in their residence, government or non-government office, institutions, public places, vehicles or other places. If it is committed according to the provisions of this law, it will be punished.

Today, despite the support of the Afghan government and the support of the international community, Afghan women are still facing crises and challenges. There is still a lot of discrimination and violence against women in this society. Among the most important challenges that women face are violence against them at home and in social life, forced marriage and difficulty in accessing education. Especially among the Pashtun tribes living in southern Afghanistan, the story of women is completely different from those living in Kabul. Based on statistics published by the Afghan government in 2011-2010, UNICEF announced that 66 percent of Afghan girls between the ages of 12 and 15 do not go to school.

In Afghanistan, only 37% of young girls are literate. While this figure is 66% for boys. Among adult women, only 19% are literate; Meanwhile, this figure is 49% for men. It is stated in the law of Afghanistan that all children are required to study until the ninth grade, but the fact is that the government of this country is neither able to provide the necessary facilities for this purpose, nor can it guarantee that all children of school age have entered the education system in order to force them to continue their education until the ninth grade. This lack of efficiency has led to the exclusion of many girls from education. In this country, one third of girls get married before the age of 18.

In Afghan law, the minimum marriage age for girls is 16 years and 15 years if the father's permission is given in the relevant courts. But usually this law is not taken seriously and marriages are registered before this age. In this way, many girls are deprived of education by marrying early and are also exposed to domestic violence or death due to childbirth at a young age. According to "Global Rights" research, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 Afghan women have experienced sexual and physical violence or been forced into marriage.

The reasons for the weakness of women's rights in Afghanistan:
The question that arises here is why, even though it has been 20 years since the overthrow of the Taliban, we still see discrimination and neglect of women's rights in this country? In response to this question, it should be said that the reason for violence and discrimination against women in Afghanistan is not the existence of only one factor, that is the Taliban; Rather, several factors influence the fate of women in this country. The Taliban and its operatives or other fundamentalist groups still control parts of Afghanistan, and violence and discrimination against women and girls continue in these parts. Taliban is now in control in different parts of the country and has kept many children, especially women, at home. Also, in the areas that are not under the control of the Taliban, the security situation is dire despite their terrorist operations, and families cannot allow their children to leave the house.

This issue is more severe in the case of girls; Because girls' schools are more exposed to terrorist attacks by the Taliban and there is a risk of acid attacks on female students or a life-threatening risk for their teachers. The intellectual traditions left over from the Taliban era are another problem that Afghan women are dealing with. For example, the lack of female teachers deprives many girls of education. Because many families do not allow their daughters to be taught by a male teacher. In more than half of Afghanistan's provinces, less than 20% of teachers are women.

Another reason why women, especially in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, are far from realizing their rights is the tribal and rural life of the people in these areas, where old and patriarchal traditions still remain in force. In the patriarchal culture, the man as the breadwinner of the house and the one who has a profession or skill is placed in a superior position compared to the woman. Another reason is the weakness of the central government, which is either not able to make changes in the country's laws for the benefit of improving the lives of women, or if new laws are enacted, it is not able to guarantee the implementation of these laws. As mentioned about the law prohibiting marriage under the age of 16, this law has been enacted, but the government is not able to guarantee its implementation and control its violation. Another weakness of the central government is to hand over women's complaints to local governors, which results in nothing but the patriarchal votes of local governors or convincing women to withdraw their complaints. Due to the low level of literacy among Afghan women, which is a legacy of the Taliban regime, many Afghan women do not know about their rights and do not protest against the conditions in which they live.

The perspective of the situation of women's rights in Afghanistan:
  In Afghanistan, unfortunately, with the start of negotiations between the US and the government with the Taliban, the feeling of security and trust in the future among the women's community has become much weaker and more fragile, because there is a fear that women's rights in this country will become a compromise between the government and the Taliban. The United States and NATO have repeatedly emphasized that negotiations with the Taliban should include guaranteeing women's rights. However, there is still concern from human rights activists in Afghanistan and the world that women's rights will be ignored during these negotiations. Especially since America is also trying hard to achieve peace in Afghanistan and the slogan of freedom and democracy in Afghanistan these days has become a slogan of peace and stability in this country for Westerners. This issue has increased the concern in this country that women's rights in Afghanistan may be sacrificed to establish peace with the Taliban and the dark period may repeat itself.

Mahshid Yousufi

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