Where I am living in Afghanistan, good things are deemed valueless and bad things are valued. Men and women alike will bring up the quote from Islam that says all people are obliged to get an education, and then they prohibit the girls from going to school. Afghan men will prevent women from studying, and then turn around and insist that their wives can only be examined by a female doctor.
As a result, women die because there are not enough educated women doctors. Men talk about modesty and morals and then they urinate in public. They talk about inequality and injustice, but they let the warlords drag the country into a hell. They make jokes and have fun with their female classmates at university or the office, but demand their wives and sisters cover themselves head to toe, and do not allow them to talk to strangers.
Men call their brother-in-law’s wife “sister” while their brother is alive. But if their brother dies, they marry his wife. Men can wear any clothing. They can wear their underwear in public. But if a woman wears a short dress, both men and women will call her a whore.
Many men have been talking about women’s rights while beating their wives and sisters and daughters at home. Women are killed for “honor” yet there is still a bazaar in Jalalabad where women are sold every Thursday like pieces of cloth. This auction of widows and orphan girls is part of their culture and a woman’s price depends on whether she is ugly or a beauty. The disgusting custom dates back to an era of ignorance in Saudi Arabia, prior to the emergence of Islam when the prophet of Islam revoked the custom.
Men condemn prostitution. But they don’t give up a chance to go to a whorehouse. Men lash out at entertainment programs on TV channels and at women singers. But they themselves do buggery and bring young boys to dance at their wedding parties.
Men take lovers in addition to their wives, but they couldn’t imagine their sisters with another man. They claim men can do anything without shame attached, because they are men. Men can laugh and speak loudly in public. For women, laughing or speaking loudly is not allowed.
According to many Muslim men, particularly the mullahs at the mosques who interpret Islam, women’s place is in hell. Why? Because they entice men. Therefore, women should stay home and under cover, and men may harass them. Even some women believe this.
I used to wonder why are good things bad, and bad things good for our people? I gradually discovered these men were brought up to believe these customs. They were told that nothing is bad for men.
We have many valuable things in Afghanistan, including a rich culture and religion, but the people have wrongly distorted them. These wrong ideas are being transferred from generation to generation. If women were able to get an education and if the government implemented the laws and brought to justice the men who disrespect women, wouldn’t there be more good things for all?
Photo: Artist Kubra Khademi donned her custom armor for an eight-minute walk through Kabul last March. She has since received death threats and is in hiding.