Women and Violence in Afghanistan


A group of Afghan refugee women
isafmedia, via Flickr

Ryan Geertsma and Robin Basselin look at the problem of violence in the home, in the country of Afghanistan. Some communities there are reacting against violence.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Sadat is a 15 year old from Afghanistan. In 2011, she married an older man. Soon, he began to beat her. Her husband’s father also began to beat her. Sadat decided to go to the police. She told them about the beatings. But the police did nothing. Next, she went to a lawyer. But this court official told her to go back to her husband. Sadat even tried to leave her husband. She paid a driver to take her away. Instead, the taxi driver took her back to the police. Sadat felt trapped. She felt unable to change her situation. So, she made an extreme decision. She decided to start a fire and burn her own body. She told the Xinhua news service:

Voice 3 

“I tried every way possible to get rid of violence. But all my calls for help were received by people who did not want to hear.”

Voice 2 

Sadat is not alone in her story. Many women suffer violence in their own homes. Today’s Spotlight is on domestic violence in Afghanistan.

Voice 1 

Every country and culture suffers from domestic violence. This violence can happen between any family members. But often, women are the targets of domestic violence. This is also true in Afghanistan. In 2008, an organization called Global Rights did a study. They found that 87% of women in Afghanistan had experienced some form of domestic violence.

Voice 2

There are many reasons for the high rate of domestic violence in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has suffered from many years of war during the past generation. It also struggles with issues like lack of education and poverty. Some of these issues have roots in recent history.

Voice 1 

From 1996 until 2001, an extremely conservative group ruled Afghanistan. They are called the Taliban. This extreme religious and political organization severely restricted the rights of women. For example, the Taliban did not permit young girls to attend school. They also did not permit women to work. The Taliban even made it illegal for women to be in public without a male family member. And when the women were in public, they always had to completely cover their whole body.

Voice 2 

The Taliban’s treatment of women was very unequal. Men kept their power in society. However, the laws greatly restricted the power women had.  Without power, women were vulnerable. It became easy for men to mistreat or hurt women.

Voice 1

In 2001, the Taliban lost power. Officially, girls could now go to school. And women began to regain more rights. However, in many parts of Afghanistan, cultural beliefs did not change when the laws did. Many men and government officials still believed that women should follow the Taliban customs.

Voice 2 

Even today, people in some areas of Afghanistan still support these beliefs. Within these areas, women still remain powerless. And this makes the problem of domestic violence worse. Some women may suffer severe beatings.  And often they have few resources to get help.

Voice 1 

Many people in Afghanistan see domestic violence as a private or family problem. Fawzia Kofi is a member of the Afghanistan Parliament. She talked with CNN about domestic violence in Afghanistan.

Voice 4 

“It is a quiet killer because no one sees it. But it is taking the life of women. And many women decide to burn or kill themselves or throw themselves in the rivers to escape the situation. Domestic violence is something we do not see because it is happening within the families.”

Voice 2 

Another part of the problem is that many people do not want to involve the police in family matters. In several parts of Afghanistan, families use a jirga to settle problems between family members. These unofficial, local courts are used instead of going to the police. But, these traditional courts have little official power. They cannot order husbands to stop beating their wives. They do not have the power the police have to enforce their ruling.

Voice 1 

However, sometimes, even police can be part of the problem in Afghanistan. In areas where Taliban support is strong, police often do not help women. In Sadat’s story, the police sent her back to her husband. This is a major problem. But many people are working to change this culture.

Voice 2 

In 2009, President Hamid Karzai signed laws to protect women from domestic violence.  It will take a long time for these laws to completely change the culture. However, the first step is to help law enforcement workers better understand domestic violence.

Voice 1 

Camelah Wali is a police officer in Afghanistan. She worked as a police officer both before and after the Taliban’s rule. She was also a victim of domestic violence. She told the Reuters news service:

Voice 5 

“The police force has moved the wrong direction. Many male police do not know about the violence. Others do violence to women. It is a great struggle for all women.”

Voice 2 

Wali says that only now are the police beginning to understand domestic violence. Now, experts are training the police to think differently about domestic violence. They are teaching them how to see and stop the violence. The government hopes this will help women no longer be afraid to ask the police for help.

Voice 1 

Sahar Gul is another young woman from Afghanistan.  She married a much older man when she was 13 years old. Gul says that for about a month, things were good. But then she did not get pregnant. The man and his family became angry. They began beating her. They locked her in a room under the ground. And they gave her very little food. Gul was tortured like this for six months until she was rescued.

Voice 2 

Gul’s story is one of the worst stories of domestic violence in Afghanistan. However, it also shows that things are beginning to change. In Gul’s story, the community was not silent. People that lived nearby told the police about Gul’s suffering. And when the police received the news, they acted. The police arrested Gul’s husband’s family. And they sent them to prison. This was very different than Sadat’s story.  And it shows that there is hope.

Voice 1 

Many people in Afghanistan hope that this progress will continue. They want to see their country improve. But Afghanistan still has a lot of work to do. And together the country is working to change the culture of the Taliban’s rule. Fawzia Kofi told CNN:

Voice 4 

“I think the biggest fear and concern we have is that we will go back to that dark time in our history. It was that time when women had to look at the world from a small window.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Dianna Anderson. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Women and Violence in Afghanistan.”

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Question:

Do you speak out when you see people treating another person badly?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on July 05, 2012

We want everyone to respect us and we respect everyone. We do not want anyone to hurt us and we do not hurt anyone. When we are in difficulties we know about difficulties. When we are in sufferings we know about sufferings. The life has difficulties, challenges and sufferings. All of us try much to live our lives well. We make much effort for good things. We love the life. We love everyone. We wish good things to everyone. We wish to bring good things to everyone. We wish good things. We do not want not good things to anyone. We sacrifice much for good things.

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Quangbvhm
said on November 25, 2014

The situation of Afganistan is the same Vietnamse condition 500 years ago. A male can have many wife, women are always have less power than male. But after bible of Christ was speaded to my country uby France people. This situation had been improving until now. Think about Sadat’s story, she dicided go to death with burn herself to escape her family, this is a big bomb to wake up every woman need to act to change their life.

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tukiet
said on November 25, 2014

Domestic violence, specially women is issues in the world. Women are always have less power. Example: In office, the numbers leaders are women less than male… However, today The world has changed the treatment about women. They have more conditions to learn,work and take care our health. I hope the situation of some middle east countries have change.

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Mss Flamboyant
said on November 29, 2014

Women need to unite to protect women’s rights. First of all, we need to change mother’s conception about “value man above women” which makes woman always have less power. If we want to change the world"s opinion we need change ourselves firstly such as work professionally, take responsibility as man, share money stuffs….....only when we contribute everything equal man we can ask sexual equality. It is fair for both man and women.

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Honneur
said on January 28, 2019

I have three daughters. When they were teenagers, I teach them how to use a shot gun and send them to school of martial arts and anothers abilities I thought necessary for self defense. If a man dare hurt one of them, certainly he will receive an amazing unpleasant…