12/02/2011, 00.00
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Afghan women victims of violence and abuse like under the Taliban

In Kunduz, local leader has acolytes throw acid on the members of a family because the father had refused to give his daughter in marriage. Speaking to AsiaNews, local source slams the country’s tribal Islamic culture, which continues to trample civil laws and human rights. More than 50 per cent of Afghan women in prison are there on adultery charges.
Kabul (AsiaNews) – As far as women’s rights are concerned, Afghanistan under President Karzai is no better than when it was ruled by the Taliban, as illustrated by the many cases of stoning, abuses and arrests of women on adultery charges.

Last Wednesday, a gang in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, reportedly indignant at a father's refusal to give one of his three daughters up for marriage, sprayed the family of five with acid, sending everyone to hospital with burns. The father and the eldest daughter are in critical condition.

Although Afghan police began their investigation, local sources said that they are afraid to move against the perpetrators and that no arrest was likely. Eyewitnesses in the village where they incident occurred said that the head of the gang of attackers belongs to a local militia known as the Arbakis, set up to fight the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. For this reason, police and residents view them as above the law, and this despite a plethora of accusations against its members of summary executions, rape and violence.

The evidence is clear. Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, the country remains in the grip of radical Islam and tribal traditions, the source told AsiaNews. Most Afghans continue to view Sharia as the only law of the land. And women are the ones who are paying the price for that since they continue to be denied the right to go to school, choose their husband or get a job. When they become widows, they are also exclude by their family and lose their property.

A recent report by British association, Womankind Worldwide, noted that than 50 per cent of jailed Afghan women are accused of adultery. On 10 November, a group of men in Ghazni (138 km south-west of Kabul) incited by a local imam stoned to death two women, mother and daughter, on alleged adultery charges. The attack occurred at some 300 metres from the local police station.

“Sadly, women’s inferior status is rooted in families and traditions,” the source said. “Men are considered above everything and they do not accept the evolution of the status of women, who are deemed mere reproductive tools.”

In Afghanistan, the status of women in Afghanistan is erroneously linked to religion. The Qur‘an does not ban women’s education. “In my school, most teachers are women,” the source explained. “Many girls go to elementary school. In order to improve attendance level in higher schools, we are providing girls with bursaries to induce their families to let them to study.”

Women’s cultural evolution varies from city to city. In Kabul, you can see many girls go to school, wearing a uniform and a coloured veil. However, in villages just a few kilometres from the capital, the situation is quite different.

“The mullahs are the strongest opponents to female education. Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, they continue to reject the little freedom granted to women,” the source explained.

“To change this country from the point of view of human dignity, we need a cultural revolution, not just political changes,” the source said. “Many Westerners think that the appointment of a woman governor in Heart is great progress. That is not the case. It is just window-dressing to show the government’s good intentions.”

What is more, “Western nations cannot just stop at removing the Taliban from power. To change Afghanistan, they must convince its rulers to invest in education and not only security. Only this way can a society that protects human dignity and human rights be promoted. Otherwise, the country will remain backward, making the ten years of US occupation and the war against terrorist worthless.” (S.C.)
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See also
Afghan girls risk lives to go to school
Acid thrown in faces of five young women in Kandahar, "guilty" of going to school
Karzai invites Mullah Omar to peace talks
Karzai calls on Pakistan to stop firing rockets into Afghanistan
Abdullah accuses Karzai. The U.S. military ask Obama for more troops


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