A woman’s life in Afghanistan is one of the most shocking and devastating truths. It wasn’t until September 11th 2001 that the world awoke to the relevance of women’s issues to international peace and security. However, it’s been two years since and the lives of Afghan women have improved only slightly. Harassment, violence, illiteracy, poverty and extreme repression continue to characterize reality for many afghan women.
“Under the Taliban, ultraconservative Islamic ideas combined with misogynistic and patriarchal tribal culture resulted in numerous edicts aimed at the control and subjugation of Afghan women” (Womenwarpeace.org). Women were denied all rights both civil and political. They were denied the right to free assembly, freedom of movement and the right to personal security.
According to a March 2003 International Crisis Group report, the civil war created by the Taliban produced 50,000 widows in Kabul alone. They were denied employment and as a result many had to result to begging in order to provide for their families. Their economic burden continued to increased as they became responsible for their family’s security and income, a situation complicated by the fact that women had limited economic and educational opportunities. It made women very vulnerable to exploitative situations such as prostitution, indentured servitude and drug trafficking to support themselves and their families as fallback survival strategies (WomenWarpeace.org)
Pashtun women have experienced an escalation in sexual violence cases as well as rape. Long-standing ethnic rivalries that were suppressed during the Taliban era are being played out on women’s bodies. The Security General said “rape, including a significant incidence of gang rape and rape of women and girls from minority communities in the north, women and girls from nomadic groups, female aid workers and female members of aid worker’s families, has been a common and recurrent manifestation of the current insecurity” (womenwarpeace.org).
There are several organizations that have been created in order to resist gender apartheid. The Afghan Women’s Network is an umbrella group of over 30 women’s organizations. It is based out of Kabul and was founded in 1996 in Peshawar. The network is committed to promoting the rights and independence of Afghan women.
RAWA is the oldest women’s political organization...