Afghan women always come second behind men, even though our religion tells us men and women are equal. Our society and families usually do not encourage women to make a life and improve themselves. Even today in many parts of Afghanistan women are treated like slaves and viewed as a burden on the family. Years ago, men were known to bury their infant daughters alive as punishment. Why? Simply for being born a girl.
In developed countries, women receive more respect, but in Afghanistan, especially in illiterate areas, women lack value. They have no rights. They are told from a young age that they are a burden to the family, and so while the girls are still very young their parents and brothers force them to marry, even if they don’t think the particular marriage partner is a good person for the girl. The relatives ruin the girl’s life and they don’t care.
During wars and disasters all Afghan people suffer, but women suffer most. When the Taliban gained control in the 1990s, women suffered even more abuse. These problems weaken women’s morale, making it difficult for them to make important decisions about their lives and this is still true today.
Afghan women need support so they can build courage to stand strong and go on. They need opportunities; they need all types of learning facilities so they can build knowledge to work. They need to know how to face problems and solve them. The second thing a woman needs is a good education.
Family support is the first thing that makes a woman strong and allows her to become a strong decision maker who will eventually support her own family. Even I have experienced a lack of support from my own family. A few years ago I was working in a hospital and one of the Pakistani doctors offered me a great opportunity to go to study in any field I wanted in Pakistan. I would have loved to go, but when I told my family about it, they ignored me. I tried to persuade them, but they would not listen to me so I lost the opportunity.
I am sad about not being able to do what I want. Whenever I think of a new way to improve my life, my family ignores it and tells me this is my time to marry. When a girl is over twenty, families want her to marry and my family agrees with this. I want to finish my education first and get a job. This is all I want, to get a good education and get some work experience. I know I might not win my argument. These are the problems I face as a young Afghan woman. I wish that one day I could become a politician or a policymaker. I pray that my wish will become real one day.
Today we hear so much news about the violence against women by the Taliban, especially in the rural areas of Afghanistan. When we hear these reports, even if we do not know the victims, we feel harmed. If more Muslims were able to follow Allah’s teachings, the lives of our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters would improve. I hope that one day all women, including myself, feel safe and that, together, we will get our own rights.
By Masooda R.
Photo by Mohamed Somji