Sunday, April 26, 2009

Women's situation worse than under Taliban

The Sunday Times has a lengthy piece on the situation of women in Afghanistan today. Here are the most interesting bits:

The Sunday Times
April 26, 2009
The defiant poets' society

[After the fall of the Taliban in 2001] Kabul was soon full of feminist groups setting up gender-rights projects, even though in one of the world’s poorest countries all that most Afghan women really wanted was security and food on the table. Instead they got beauticians sponsored by American cosmetics companies, outraged that under the Taliban women had been locked up for wearing nail varnish. Like other journalists, I wrote enthusiastic stories on beauty schools, the first female driving school and girls’ football teams, though I did notice they were practising at dawn in secret...

President Hamid Karzai’s own wife, Zeenat, an obstetrician, not only stopped working once her husband became president, but never appears in public. When I asked Karzai about women, he claimed he had “lots” working in his office, yet was unable to produce one.

In the past three years, going back and forth to Afghanistan, I have watched the situation for women deteriorate...

Malalai Joya, a young woman MP who criticised warlords, was suspended from parliament and now lives in hiding, protected by five gunmen. Last November she shocked a London audience by declaring that the situation for women in Afghanistan is now worse than it was under the Taliban...

It would be wrong to say that the situation for women in Afghanistan is all bleak, but the statistics do not look good. According to Dr Soraya Sobhrang, director of women’s rights for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, 60% of marriages are forced, and while 40% of children in the first year of school are girls, by secondary school this drops to only 11%. By the age of 15, less than 4% are girls. “The situation was fine till 2004, but since then we’ve gone very slow, even backwards,” she says. “Honour killing and violence are increasing and the international community is doing nothing.” ... (link)

No comments: