Girls have many problems in Afghanistan that unfortunately stem from the belief by men and boys that Allah created women for men to rule over them. They believe it is their right to harass women.
Boys torment girls when they go outside alone. Girls in villages and provinces often don’t go to school because their fathers don’t allow them to get an education. When a girl says she wants to go to school or she wants to have a role in family matters, the men of the family tell her, “Shut up! You can’t discuss this with us because you are a girl.”
Our religion of Islam says: “Both girls and boys have the same right to be educated.” But the truth of religion is not as important to most men as their own zeal in controlling the women.
Most fathers and boys think about their own benefits first and nothing else. One of the miseries they created is forcing young girls to marry old men. For example, it is not uncommon for a thirteen-year-old girl to be forced to marry a seventy-year-old man. This is a big cruelty under Islam, but the men don’t think about the girl’s rights in society.
A few days ago, a girl’s tongue was cut out by her husband and she cannot speak anymore. She was pregnant and had lost her child and when her husband tried to force her to do illegal acts for money, she refused and he cut out her tongue. The man has been arrested and is waiting for his trial. If the police would punish such men, others might stop doing such things. But usually, even when men are arrested, they are not punished and so they don’t worry about breaking the law.
Involve the Mullahs
We should ask the mullahs in the mosques to talk to men during Friday prayer. If the mullahs told men that this kind of behavior is not acceptable in the Islam faith, the men would listen. Men do many things in the name of Islam that are not part of the true faith.
For example, if a member of a family kills a member of another family for any reason, the killer’s family can be required to give up one of their daughters as compensation. The killer himself is not punished. Islam says that if a girl is not willing to marry, her family doesn’t have the right to force her.
If television and radio made stories about the abuses, people would take notice. If I could be the head of a television or radio station, I would make a drama comparing what really happens in Afghanistan with what mullahs say is permitted by our religion.
Young Women for Change
We now have a project in Afghanistan called Young Women for Change. The project is directed at boys who harass girls. The group goes to boys’ schools and gives presentations. They also give presentations at girls’ schools to show girls how to protect themselves and how to talk to the male family members of about their right to not be harassed.
Changing the attitude of Afghan men starts with better education for everyone. I hope that one day the violence will stop and we will all be free. It is our duty as women to participate in this project and work for the future of Afghan girls. We must stand up for ourselves if we want to stop the violence against women and girls in Afghanistan.
Photo by ISAF Media