Why are we paying such a high
price just because
we are girls or women?
November 5, 2004
As the world witnesses Afghanistan stepping into
development and rehabilitation phase, experience has revealed
country can ever develop without a sound base to protect human
Afghans are suffering from a very harsh situation and human values
are worthless in many parts of the region.
I am a researcher on women issues in Afghanistan and I travel
frequently to different parts of the region to find out the living
circumstances of women.
Some three months ago I visited a province in the south east
of the country and observed the situation of women and children.
I witnessed that their rights have been massacred entirely under
the shadow of ignorance of those who call themselves Muslims.
In this province, 9 out of 10 families have sold
their daughters at a value equivalent to $300. I was shocked
when I saw the girls 3 and 6 years of age getting married and being
sold. When the fathers were asked about the cause, they said it
was all due to
a bad economy.
Also many believed that Islam says daughters should not be kept
at home. They believed that the security
of the country is a question for all the inhabitants. That is
daughters were sold: to avoid "problems
in future". Many fathers said a woman has no value and
if a daughter can fetch $300, it is the
to earn an income.
Selling girls and early marriages are very common in
many different regions of the country, especially the southern
and eastern parts.
When the women were asked why they give birth to so many children
they can't afford to feed, they all responded that these are forced
deliveries; if a wife refuses to bear more children, the
husband sells his daughter and gets another
While talking to newly wed children, I was very disappointed
by their innocence and simplicity. An 8-year-old girl said, "Last
night my mother told me that I am engaged to the
village preacher, who has already got three wives and his
eldest son is 21-years old."
Human rights, particularly the rights of women and children,
is a question for the whole nation. Why are we paying such a high
price just because
we are girls or women? Many of us believe that Islam has put these
rules on women and our religion says we are inferior to men. These
ideas are rooted in ignorance.
Women and children's rights need to be addressed to a very large
extent. Speeches at public places won't change the current
circumstances unless strong action is taken in terms of public
awareness. Islamic sharia and jurisprudence need to be clarified
for people in many far and remote areas of the country.
The independent human rights commission ought to take measurable
actions to prevent these violations throughout the country. The
central government also has the responsibility to broaden its context
and run programs which will help awareness about
what Islam is really about.
The literacy rate is very low in
the country and when a preacher preaches for
his own benefit, a man who cannot read or write will believe him
that this is the
and then applies all those self-made rules at his home. As a
result all the weak members of the family become victims of his