The other day, I was in my office thinking about Afghanistan and how the situation is improving. We are fortunate that the international community is helping us rebuild our country. We have an elected president. Girls are going to school. Women are working outside the home. It is beautiful here. I wondered about the many Afghans living abroad. I thought to myself that they should come see that Afghanistan is getting better. Our country needs us and they should come home.

The sound of the door opening interrupted my thoughts. My colleague entered my office. He had a very worried look on his face as he asked if I had watched the news on TV. “No,” I said. “Why? What is wrong?”

“You must watch. It’s awful,” he said. “Once again, we are faced with our government’s failure.”

Only a few minutes before, I was counting the blessings of Afghanistan; now I was watching a story out of Kunduz, where the mullahs and elders had punished three young girls. One girl was beaten in public with a whip for running away from her home. The beating had been televised. Two other young women were stoned for adultery.

As I watched, my head was exploding in anger. This is not human rights. How do I stop this? To whom do I speak? Will my government hear my voice? Can someone pass a message to them? Why, in a country with a history of five thousand years, is it the elders and the public who punish wrongdoers? The government must set the standard. The government must punish the wrongdoer, not the public.

Indeed, according to Islam, adultery (gunahe kabira) is the biggest sin. But let’s make it clear. The girls can’t commit those crimes on their own. There must be a man so that we can have the adultery case completed. Where were those men? If you want to punish a girl for adultery, then according to Islam, you have to punish the woman and the man—not just the woman. Men have the right to do anything, because they are men. They are powerful; they are the bread-bringers.

And why does a girl want to leave her house? What is running away from home? When you ask our people, most of them say: “Yes, running from home is a crime according to Islam.” So of course young women can’t have their rights. Help them to get their rights.

Our leaders must stop buying villas in Dubai. Think about your people. Think about those young girls who run away from their homes because their families don’t treat them like human beings. What if this was to happen to your own daughter, sister, mother, or your own wife? Youngsters are the treasure of our country. The future of Afghanistan is in the hands of our youngsters. Give them their rights. Treat them like human beings. The justice system in our country is horrible. Do something about it. Otherwise, our youngsters are going to leave their country and will never come back.

By Elay