The UN campaign to end violence against women declared November 25 as “Orange Day” – a day for activities and appeals to raise awareness and call for world leaders to fulfill the promises they have made to end gender violence.

But I believe there is a need to take action to stop violence against women in my country every day. Every day, we hear of violence committed against women and girls in Afghanistan, but we rarely hear of any punishment for those who commit it.

Even when the offenders are jailed, they can be released after only a few days. They pay the police to release them. In Persian it is called rishwat and in English it is called a fine.

I sometimes wonder how long it is going to continue. Why can’t it be stopped?

Then I realize, we need more than a change in the laws, we need the help of the police to stop violence against women and girls. We need the support and voice of every individual in Afghanistan.

We need to increase the awareness of girls and women living in rural areas.

We need to encourage girls and women to get an education.

Our efforts can help to make them strong people, who have the courage to speak out and who refuse to tolerate violence against them.

We should fight for the rights of women and girls, beginning with ourselves, our families, and our friends. 

If we fight against violence against women and girls everywhere, our own women and girls will benefit too.

And not just on Orange Day. It is my hope that my people will speak out every day to stop violence against women and girls all over the world, and especially in Afghanistan.

By Yalda N.