Few things have moved the international community as much as the events in Afghanistan in recent weeks. The US withdrawal and the Taliban’s rapid assumption of control over the country will very much affect women’s lives and rights: “how women’s rights will be defined is in the hands of the Taliban and their interpretation of Sharia law”, writes Eirliani Abdul Rahman in her Op-Ed for Newsweek.
In fact, the situation for girls and women has improved in recent years, with the proportion of girls in primary education rising from less than 10 percent in 2003 to 33 percent in 2017, and the proportion of women in political responsibility has also risen, compared to almost none in public positions during the previous Taliban rule. But how that will develop now is an open question. For despite the progress, Afghan women still had to fight for their position in society.
“A 2019 study by UN Women and partners showed that only 15 percent of Afghan men think women should be allowed to work outside the home after marriage. Two-thirds of men feel that Afghan women have too many rights. The same study observed that male Afghan powerbrokers “resent quotas for women in public shuras (assemblies) and in parliament“, writes Eirliani in her article. The US has observed the progress critically. There has been an endorsement of Sharia law and a stronger conservative trend. “About half of women languishing in prison and 95 percent of girls in juvenile detention are detained for “moral crimes” such as having sex outside of marriage. Female rape victims have been murdered by their families in “honour killings””.
Many women in rural areas have seen little improvement in their daily lives in recent years. That is why Eirliani writes: “Given entrenched cultural norms, the US and the international community should demand that the new Taliban regime uphold the basic rights of Afghan women as defined by the Afghan constitution, and to abide by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which the Parliament of Afghanistan ratified in 2003”.
You can read Eirliani’s full opinion on how to limit the disaster for Afghanistan’s girls and women here.
About the author:
Eirliani Abdul Rahman is the co-founder of YAKIN, an NGO working in the field of child rights and child protection issues and she continuously aims at raising awareness for survivors of sexual child abuse, the consequences of child labor and mental health issues.
Published on September 6, 2021.
Photo credit: Graciela Vargas