“Just the women are dead, and the men who killed them are alive. We should raise our voices so everyone knows about it.” – Student demonstrator Kamila Ataee speaking about gender bias in Afghanistan
As the world watches, women in Afghanistan continue to be killed at an alarming rate. While some of the ill-treated have fallen prey to domestic violence and pious extremists, others have suffered from the actions of American forces. For women, there is no safe haven in Afghanistan.
Killed by their own families
In 2012, reports have surfaced about victims like child bride, Sahar Gul, who was confined and severely tortured by relatives for refusing to become a prostitute. Then there is the case in Northern Afghanistan where a mother-in-law, Wali Hazrata, conspired with her son and murdered the wife, Stori, for giving birth to a girl. They only wanted male offspring.
Regrettably, these horrible stories are not anomalies. Elsewhere in the country, in Baghlan Province for example, a 28 year old woman named Fatima was strangled upon returning home from a trip. The victim’s husband and family allegedly didn’t like the idea of her working outside the home; consequently they attempted to cover up their crime.
Domestic violence is only one threat women have to reckon with in an already war torn country. Consider the Taliban.
Cultural menaces to female populace
Though most military officials indicate the Taliban has been beaten, the United States is currently engaged in settlement negotiations with these same hard-liners. It seems they are still a force. For the women of Afghanistan that means there is more to fear than mere political rhetoric and patriarchal hyperbole.
According to an April 17, 2012 article published in the Washington Times, “Taliban talks terrify Afghan women,” writer Ashish Kumar Sen describes what many fear will happen after the United States pulls its forces out of the region:
“Taliban fighters perpetrated egregious acts of violence against women, including rape, abduction and forced marriage, according to a 2001 report by the State Department.”
Under Taliban rule, women cannot attend school or go to work and more than a few have been stoned to death or met a similar fate because they violated some type of moral code. Worries are very well founded and it hasn’t been too much better with the Americans.
In the middle of a war zone
On April 23, 2012, three more victims died in Afghanistan who weren’t even fighting in the war. The female trio was caught between Taliban revolutionaries and U.S. military forces when they were slain. About the tragic event, Press TV, an international news agency, states, “Officials in Wardak Province say the women were killed when a rocket was fired into a house in Adam Khel district on Monday. It is not yet clear which side fired the rocket.”
Regarding the killed, were they someone’s daughter, sister, mother, aunt or perhaps wife? Does it really matter which side fired the shell?
It’s not only U.S. artillery. On March 11, 2012, while stationed in Southern Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales opened fire with his rifle on unarmed civilians, cutting down 17 people. Of the adults, a majority were women.
A courageous few seeking justice and safety for all women recently demonstrated outside government offices in Kabul as a way of calling attention to their plight. Emma Graham-Harrison, a correspondent covering the event for The Guardian UK newspaper, wrote, “Young Afghans braved fears of violence to join a rare march on parliament to demand justice for the women who have been killed, beaten and abused this year – including one they said was beheaded by her own husband.”
Realistically, if 130, 000 American troops could not make Afghanistan safe for women, what hope does a march have against the Taliban?