In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share my experiences with women in Afghanistan and an article, below, on the realities of women’s lives in Afghanistan. I’ve been reminded of those realities throughout my time in Kabul. Here are some examples.
The young woman who gave up her scholarship for a masters degree in the US because of an arranged marriage with the drug lord family who bailed her father out of political prison.
The other young woman who wanted to study medicine in the states and come back to serve her fellow woman as a gynecologist, but was thwarted by her father.
Working daily with a colleague, knowing that he doesn’t allow his wife out of the house.
Watching one young woman leave on scholarship to the US and seeing her sister remain at home in a burqa.
Seeing the Chinese prostitutes at clubs and restaurants and wondering what their stories could be.
Meeting a woman who owns several brothels in Kabul, and wondering how she can sleep at night.
Passing women in burqas with their children, squatting at speed bumps with their arms outstretched.
Those are my impressions. Here is what the studies have to say.
Taking Stock: Afghanistan Women and Girls Seven Years On
A new report from an international rights group says that Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be female. The report, compiled by Womankind Worldwide, says that the country has one of the highest rates of domestic violence and maternal mortality. Eight out of 10 women are affected by domestic violence; over 60 percent of marriages are forced; and half of all girls are married before the age of 16. These are just some of the startling statistics contained in Womankind’s groundbreaking new report Taking Stock: Afghanistan Women and Girls Seven Years On. Seven years after the US and the UK “freed” Afghan women from the oppressive Taliban regime, Womankind says life is just as bad for most, and worse in some cases. Maternal mortality rates (one in six women dies in childbirth) are the highest in the world alongside Sierra Leone. Afghanistan is the only country in the world with a higher suicide rate among women than men, the report says. “Women in Afghanistan are working to tackle these issues by supporting individuals affected by violence and promoting legal reform — but they urgently need more support,” said Womankind Worldwide’s Director, Sue Turrell. The report says that many of the laws introduced to protect women are not being properly enforced, and that the process of including females in the country’s social and political life has been unacceptably slow.
To read the report, please check out this site.