Justice for Shakila, Justice for Women was one of the slogans I shouted in front of the Human Rights office and Parliament in a protest march. Shakila was a sixteen–year-old girl who was killed by a politician in Bamiyan province earlier this year. On July 31, I decided to join a protest with people who want justice for Shakila and other women facing violence in Afghanistan. We started our march at Kabul University and walked to Parliament.
In the six months since Shakila’s death, the government has done nothing to follow up on the case. Even the lawyer who wanted to follow Shakila’s case was threatened. As a result, he stopped working.
Afghan women’s situations seem worse and worse every day, and few people care. Afghan women constantly face violence. I just read of a father who had raped his daughter for almost six months. Although her mother and brother knew everything, they didn’t raise their voices. Some women aren’t even safe in their own homes in Afghanistan.
Sometimes, I think that if we have these kinds of problems in spite of the presence of international and American forces, what will happen if they leave? This question always comes to my mind whenever I hear about acts of violence happening against women, and my fear makes me afraid of all Afghan men.
Violence in Afghanistan does not only include killing, raping, and beating. I feel the threat of violence when I am walking in the street where men wait so they can to disturb girls by touching you or insulting you. Some will look at you as if you are a whore. I don’t want to be afraid of being outside in Kabul when the streets are getting dark. But when it gets dark, you will not see a single woman or girl outside. If you are a girl and walk in the street at night alone, you may never reach home safely.
It is awful to be afraid of reading the news because you may hear about more of the same violence against women. It is disgusting when you can’t feel secure without your brother or another man walking with you in streets. This feeling that I can’t live as an independent person kills me every single day. Why? Why? Sometimes I ask myself why my people are so foolish and see women as secondary. Thinking about women in Afghanistan makes me suffer.
I am tired; tired of hearing a girl was killed on the way home at night, tired of hearing how Najiba was shot nine times in her head because she had a relationship with a man. I am tired of hearing that a woman burned herself in Herat because her in-laws didn’t treat her like a human. I am tired of hearing that a girl was raped by her father. I am tired of hearing that a girl was given to another family because she was a “bad” girl. I am tired of seeing that my neighbor’s daughter cannot go to school because she is seen as a girl created to serve her husband. I am tired!
What is the solution? I stand for my rights. You stand for your rights. Now is the time for everyone else to stand for women’s rights. If I don’t care, and if you don’t care, then who will care?
Each of us has to begin the process of change with our own actions. Rights won’t be given; they must be taken. I am responsible for taking my rights from foolish men who think I can’t be a leader and that I am not smart enough to play an important role in society. I have to take what is mine. If I wait, they won’t give it to me. I won’t be allowed to enter into the world of policy, business, art, engineering, or medicine.
Dear women and strong girls, take your rights. Take what is yours from those who want to put you down. I stand; come and join me!
Editor’s note: Shakila was shot and killed under mysterious circumstances in the house of a provincial council member Syed Wahidi Behishti in Bamiyan city six months ago. Protestors say Behishti is a powerful provincial figure and that officials are ignoring the girl’s death by postponing prosecution. Some Facebook users have held online campaigns to raise awareness of the case. Photo: Hazara People International Network.