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Afghanistan a Patriarchal Society .1 Greeting

Social History and status of Women in Afghanistan

3.8 Afghanistan a Patriarchal Society .1 Greeting

The women are subjugated in a way that even their most simple social activities seem unusual. The Afghan women are supposed to greet in a different way from how men do in the society. In fact, the greetings in Afghanistan vary according to gender.

For example, Afghan women do not kiss or shake hands with most men, but they do shake hands with close male family members such as their fathers, brothers and uncles.


A routine of Afghan women reveals the indicate have his patterns of patriarchal operations in the society on a day-to-day basis. Socialization between man and woman is rare and takes place only on formal occasions and this is codified by certain formal. A typical Afghan greeting lasts 5 min indicating the nature of format society which is actually a carryover from the Persian courtly culture. It also reveals the different layers of society and the way the younger person has to behave with the older person and the different members of a group who are addressed on the basis of their social position and also their age and gender. Thus, a decoding of a simple ritual such as greeting is understood by all women of the Afghan society as a marker of the status and also a cultural transaction where honorifics are exchanged in a prescribed manner. One may summarize that the socialization shows the women her true position which is supposed to reenact on a day-to-day basis and so as for reproducing the patriarchal structures (Khinjani 2012: 5).

3.8.2 Clothing

Dress is one of the important markers of social identity and also cultural identity in Afghan society and over the years, the changes in dress also reflect the overall changes in the society and nowhere is this reflected radically than in the transition from the Marxist rule where women wore skirts and very few rural women wore the full burqa or chador. The expensive material and colorful material also reflects the social status but under the Taliban state courts of dress are enforced. (Khinjani 2012:


Another compulsory adornment along with dress is jewelry and most of the one- woman are fond of jewelry particularly gold which they wear along with expensive clothes on festive occasion not only to mark the occasion but also to display a certain amount of social values like superordinate status and a sense of richness. Presently, this has been stalked to the large degree and thus explains the transition that was rapid from a relatively western liberal ethos to an imagined Islamic ideal.

3.8.3 Marriage

In Afghanistan, marriage is of the utmost importance. Afghans say, ―Without marriage, life and faith are incomplete.‖ Therefore, there are few unmarried people in Afghanistan. Parents are always trying to find suitable partners for their sons and


daughters. The Law on Marriage stipulates that marriage must be through choice and that 16 years is the legal age of marriage for women and 18 years for men.

However, there is no clear provision in the Criminal Procedure Law to penalize those who arrange forced or underage marriages. Article 99 of the Law on Marriage states that marriage of a minor may be conducted by a guardian, known under Shari'a law as a Shari'a-wali, i.e. the legal minimum age for marriage can, and is safely ignored. There is currently a failure to treat forced marriage as a criminal offence due to the attitudes of judicial personnel and of the wider society. The Ministry of Women's Affairs is currently advocating for an increase of the legal age of marriage for women to 18 years, as well as a reenactment of the requirement to register marriages also at provincial level (Khinjani 2012: 2).

The traditional Islamic idea of marriage does not fit in neatly in the social value of Afghanistan where the tribal realities are ever present and your marriage is seen as the union of two families not just us to individuals and therefore the family and the Horn of the family are important (Khinjani 2012: 3).

In Afghanistan, marriage starts with the boy‘s family going to the girl‘s family to ask for her hand. Then the boy‘s family visits the girl‘s family from time to time.

Sometimes, the girl‘s family does not give an answer right away to the boy‘s family because a quick answer implies that the girl‘s family is eager to get rid of her. If the boy‘s family thinks that the girl‘s family is eager to marry her off, the boy‘s family may think her worth less, and they too may value her less (Khinjani 2012: 3).

Honor is one of the most important elements in Afghanistan and embraces all aspects of society, including both men and women and women, are supposed to adhere to the traditional courts of marriage and can never say no to an arranged marriage which is the norm as other forms of marriage are too rare and also not sanctioned. From the feminist point of view, this type of marriages is forced marriage and in a case of refusal by the bride, taking of her life would also follow and is not a big deal.

In contrast to rural Afghanistan, the urban centres of Kabul and other main cities follow a different pattern of consumption that is also wasteful. Hotels and restaurants are the main venues where lavish display of wealth occurs and it also reflects the


capacity of the patron. In the villages, marriages are performed at the houses of the groom and also the bride one notices a clear gender segregation where men and women are both entertained separately. Some traditional practices which also empowered women and give them space that was part of the rituals have also been pushed to the background or totally removed. The poor security station of Afghanistan has forced many changes including changes in marriage and thus it is assumed that an announcement of marriage will be an open invitation (Khinjani 2012:


While the marriage ceremony is an elaborate affair and may last for a week, many elements including the application of henna, which is part of the traditional South Asian culture and also one of the important spaces for women to get together and also perform by singing songs or exchanging pleasantries is any event that is looked forward to. Like the real marriage function which is a religious element and called

―Nikah‖, where marriages are solemnized, is an universal affair in all Islamic societies but the other functions are peculiar to each society and it is here that in Afghanistan, the vitality of rural life gives to women a large amount of gendered space that is created during such ceremonies like marriage. One of the most important points of this is that a sudden community of women is also formed which lasts temporarily during the henna ceremony.

3.8.4 Divorce

With the issue of divorce, one notices a stark contrast between theory and practice in Islamic societies where women have the right to divorce in theory but in practice is not allowed as the operation of patriarchy brings about the tribal nature of afghan society. We also see that it is difficult for women were widowed, divorced or single due to physical ailments. The reason is very simple as the identity of women is not autonomous but returned the identity of her caretaker and family.