War without freedom – Women’s rights in Afghanistan

The military intervention in Afghanistan promised liberation for women – No more beatings, no more repression, and especially, no more burqas.

Waleed Aly in his article War on freedom in today’s edition of The Age reports that this liberation has not happened.

A recent report by British-based women’s rights group Womankind has concluded that Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Around 80% of women are affected by domestic violence; over 60% of marriages are forced, some of them between elderly men and girls as young as eight; half of Afghanistan’s girls are married before the age of 16.

Further statistics from the Womankind site show that:
  • 68% of girls between 7-13 are not enrolled in school
  • The maternal mortality rate is the 2nd highest in the world
  • 15,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes
  • Only 2% of Afghan women have identity cards
  • 98% of women are people with no formal papers, citizenship or identity.

Waleed Aly concludes his article by saying: Gender equality in Afghanistan is not ultimately about defeating the Taliban; it’s about rebuilding civil society. Without investing heavily in women’s health and education, and, most importantly, nurturing the rule of law, misogyny will flourish forever. That process will take decades, but if we are serious about improving the lives of Afghan women that is what it means, in Kevin Rudd’s phrase, to be in it for the “long haul”.More information:Taking stock: Afghan women and girls Women, peace and security in Afghanistan – medica mondialeUNIFEM Afghanistan, ‘Uncounted and Uncounted: A Secondary Data Research Project on Violence Against Women in Afghanistan’ Also available: People like us : how arrogance is dividing Islam and the West by Waleed Aly – Check the CSU Library catalogue for details.Image: WomanKind website.