Afghan Women

Sara Assefi #afghan #afghanamerican #afghanart #afghanartist #afghanistan #afghanistanart #afghanwomen #burqa #saraassefi #womenofafghanistan #womensrights

The transnational security elite lost their Afghanistan war profiteering operation after 20 years so they're trying to turn Ukraine into the next one. The goal is endless war, not successful war. Witnessing the double standards on the media boils my blood as an Afghan-American. Let’s not forget about the women and children of Afghanistan. The U.N. estimates 87 percent of Afghan women have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence, or forced marriage. Most Afghan women live confined by strict patriarchal controls, some even in communities that condone horrific gender-based violence. Challenging that status quo is risky. Female activists regularly receive death threats. 

Let’s not forget how Afghan women had freedom during King Amanullah Khan, who ruled from 1919 to 1929 and made some of the more noteworthy changes in an attempt to unify as well as modernize the country. He promoted freedom for women in the public sphere in order to lessen the control that patriarchal families exerted over women. King Amanullah stressed the importance of female education. Along with encouraging families to send their daughters to school, he promoted the unveiling of women and persuaded them to adopt a more western style of dress. In 1921, he created a law that abolished forced marriage, child marriage, and bride price, and put restrictions on polygamy, a common practice among households in the Afghanistan region.

Modern social reform for Afghan women began when Queen Soraya, the wife of King Amanullah Khan, made rapid reforms to improve women's lives and their position in the family, marriage, education and professional life. She founded the first women's magazine in Afghanistan. 

On Jan. 1, 1929, Khan was forced to flee the country due to the violent revolts in response to his policies. Mohammed Nadir Shah gained control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and became the new ruler. According to the British Museum, Shah “quickly abolished most of Amanullah’s reforms.” The change in leadership meant a turn in women’s rights. Shah rebuked the progress and freedom that Afghan women had gained in the past 10 years. Shah ruled according to Shariah Law, requiring that women were veiled. Women who were getting education under Khan’s reign could no longer attend schools. Shah ruled until 1933 when he was assassinated and succeeded by his son Mohammed Zahir Shah who ruled for 40 years. 

During these 40 years as a monarch, little steps to progress were made by Mohammed Zahir Shah. He made reforms slowly in fear that his predecessor would revolt against progressive changes. Eventually under his reign, women were able to get an education and enter the workforce. In the late 1950s a series of women’s rights laws passed. Women were no longer required to wear the burqa. The constitution in 1964 granted women the right to vote, join politics and gave men and women equal rights. Modernization continued; however, the reforms did not extend outside the urban areas. Tribal leaders in rural areas continued their traditional practices and pushed back against modernization. 

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan took control of the government. According to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, “the communists were repressive of political dissidents but they promoted women’s rights while they were in power during the 1980s.” Afghanistan was one of the most civilized countries in the world before the Soviet Union revolution in 1979-1989. 

After the fall of communist power in Afghanistan in 1992, the people engaged in a civil war between the mujahideen armies. Women’s rights were no longer enforced and were taken away. “Sexual violence against women by marauding armies was widespread as warlords took over the government,” said Barrett. As chaos erupted in Afghanistan, women’s rights were ignored.  According to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, “Women’s free mobility was reduced due to the war, and educated Afghan women were fleeing with their families to refugee camps in neighbouring countries and some migrated to the West.”

In 1996 the Taliban emerged from the war as the leaders of Afghanistan. They enforced extreme rules according to the Shariah Law. Women were required to observe purdah and men were required to grow beards. Women were banned from education, the workforce and leaving the house without a male relative. According to Bridgewater State University, “the Taliban indulged in forced marriages and rapes.” Disobeying these new laws resulted in extreme consequences from the Taliban. “In Taliban Afghanistan, women could be whipped in the streets for showing the skin of their wrists or ankles,” said Barrett. “More problematically,” she states, “women were forbidden to see male doctors and, since fundamentalist law ensured that only men could be doctors, that essentially meant that women had no access to medical care.”

After the 9/11 attack, the U.S. government intervened and took control of Afghanistan. During this transition, the U.S. focused on restoring women’s rights. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stated, “The rights of the women in Afghanistan will not be negotiable.” Women were again granted equal rights with men. Women were again able to work, get an education, vote and work in government. Although progress was made, Afghan women were still living in fear that their rights would be taken from them as the Taliban were still a threat in Afghanistan. 

Now the Taliban are back in power and the Afghan women, whose desperate efforts to return to a level of freedom they haven’t enjoyed since the early 1990s have once more been snatched from their grasps, will be the ones who not only suffer the most, but who also feel the loss of freedom most keenly,” Barrett said. This is when the world can’t turn their backs on the Women and the community of Afghanistan.