Why Women in Afghanistan Play a Different Role in Society Comparing to Other Arabic Countries?
There is no doubt that women in Afghanistan are a little different from the rest of the Arab world. Although they have always suffered in silence, the September 11th attacks completely changed their fortunes. It served the role of revealing ugly details that Afghans had concealed for too long. At the time their suffering had become extreme during the short stint that Taliban was in charge of the country. The events of September 11th did not only reveal their suffering, but also marked the beginning of the end of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. This paper investigates reasons why women in Afghanistan play completely different role from that of the women of the rest of the Arab world. It entails a proposal for research that is supposed to unearth the actual reasons why Afghan women are in slightly better position. According to literature, women’s rights movements, as well as the international community have been significant in trying to give Afghan women more dignified life.
The people of Afghanistan are predominantly followers of Islam, a religion that declared gender equality as a significant principle more than 1400 years ago. However, this has remained elusive for all women in the Arab world. They are denied the right to vote, own property or even choose their preferred marriage partners. This repressive order has been forced on women in the Arab world by their own government through their fathers, brothers and even sons. In Afghanistan, the Taliban rule from 1996 to late 2001 marked the toughest point in the lives of Afghanistan women in the world history. They were forbidden to work by people in the government who should protect them. They left women both socially and economically vulnerable. It was during this time that women could not get out of the house to do shopping without being escorted by a man. And worse still, it was supposed to be a man of whatever age. In fact, most women would be escorted out by their young sons. This was quite unfortunate, giving an impression that children were given more respect by the society than their mothers. In addition, they were not at liberty to seek medication from male doctors in a society that had no female doctors. This meant that sick woman was almost certain to die even if the disease was too minor. It was a societal requirement that women had to cover themselves entirely, right from the toes to the eyes. Those who had been in respected professions, like doctors and teachers, suddenly found themselves beggars on the streets. They had to do this to feed their families that had learnt to depend on them for almost everything (Rosemarie 2001). This was certainly a dangerous precedent that the Taliban rule had set in Afghanistan and could easily have spiraled to the entire Arab world.
However, this has drastically changed after the fall of the Taliban regime in the country in late 2001. This was after the September 11th attacks which put the country on the international radar. It basically made it impossible to continue subjecting Afghan to such a repressive system. As a matter of fact, the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States completely turned things around for women in the country. It is clear that they have since enjoyed better political and social freedom. Recently the country adopted a new Constitution that makes it clear that all Afghans, irrespective of their gender, shall be accorded equal respect and equal opportunities. Indeed, this has been followed by the government inclusion of leaders in the public service as well as in political appointments. As for professionals who were driven out of their professions by the dictatorial regime, the military victory of the United States over Taliban was a sweet revenge to them. They were able to get back to their jobs and provide for their families as usual. At the moment, no one forces women to cover their bodies, including their eyes. The only place where repressive rules remain unabated is the rural areas where cultural practices are still adhered to. Indeed, there are a few cases where mothers are restricted from making public appearance under the pretense that it is against Islam. In other instances, there have been reports of young ladies forced into marriage without their consent or denied access to education. However, these are isolated cases that can be dealt with if the government remains committed to implementing the Constitution in letter and in spirit. It can only be hoped that cases of young ladies burned up because they insisted on pursuing education will cease to exist. This will certainly mark a new chapter in the history of Arab world (Rosemarie 2008).
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The United States has been pushing the Afghan government to swing into action and save their women. However, the government seems to be dragging its feet on the matter, perhaps for political reasons. According to Human Rights Watch, women are still taken to jail for crimes that should instead be used to convict their accusers. For example, some are accused of running away from acts of abuse by their husbands. People are hardly prosecuted for forcing young ladies into marriage; instead, women are arrested by the police. While men get scot-free infidelity, women are severely punished for the same act. These statistics cast a cloud of uncertainty over the future of Afghan women with regard to the fundamentals of human dignity. Recently, however, the justice system was seen to have made a move in the right direction when the court of appeals maintained that those who had been accused of torturing a young girl remain in prison. According to the United Nations’ report, President Hamid Karzai has done something commendable, especially with regard to pardoning women accused of moral crimes. However, there are new concerns about talks between his government and the United States in a bid to bring on board the remnants of Taliban. Many people believe that equality for women may be sacrificed in order to accommodate Taliban in the eventual deal. Apart from these fears, women in Afghanistan have bright future due to the events of the September 11th. It was this particular incident that changed their fortunes by exposing to the international community the amount of suffering they had been going through (Deborah 2000). It remains to be seen if these gains will be consolidated to prove beneficial in the long term.
Research Question and Data Collection
The research intends to involve conducting interviews as well as administering questionnaires to the women in Afghanistan. In the urban settings, interviews will be used due to the fact that women there are more confident and there is less risk of victimization by men. It will certainly give professional women a chance to explain how they managed to start off their lives once again after collapse of the Taliban. In the rural areas, the research will be carried in more secretive manner in order to avoid putting the participants at risk of victimization. They will be given questionnaires for them to fill in details that they feel would be relevant for the study. In their own words, they will be asked to say if Afghan women in general live better or worse with the current government (Hephaestus Books 2011). This will help the researchers to compile reasons that can be said to have given them different social role that their counterparts in the Arab world do not have.
Analysis of Data
The data analysis will be based on the frequency of commission of injustices against women. For example, it will seek to determine when the individual women last faced abuse by their male counterparts and actions that were taken by the government. In addition, it will assess the impediments that women face in their pursuit of modern education. This will be analyzed to determine if the situation is getting better or getting worse for them. It will also seek to determine the opportunities that are available for women in the current government as well as the impediments they face in acquiring employment. These factors will be adequate in comparing the situation in Afghanistan to the situation in other parts of Arab world (Deborah 2007). It will also help in coming up with the reasons why Afghan women are slightly different and the extent of this difference.
In conclusion, the September 11th events served the role of revealing ugly details that Afghans had concealed for too long concerning their women. At the time, their suffering had become extreme during the short stint that Taliban was in charge of the country. The only place where repressive rule remains unabated is the rural areas where cultural practices are still adhered to. Indeed, there are cases where mothers are restricted from making public appearance in the pretense that it is against Islam. The United States has been pushing Afghan government to swing into action and save their women. However, the government seems to be dragging its feet on the matter, perhaps for political reasons. This research seeks to unearth reasons behind the slight changes that have been realized.
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