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Issues: Forced Marriage and Domestic Violence

Analysis of Women‘s Issues Raised in the Blogs

6.3 Issues: Forced Marriage and Domestic Violence

Munera Yousofzada has an educational background of Political Science and is a civil society activist with experience of working with street children, women and youth. She also had worked extensively with the government. She currently serves as a civil society engagement adviser with the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG). Additionally, she had been involved with various publications;

writing on the role of women, human rights, democracy, civil society efforts and had been promoting art through her writings. She had been serving as the Director of Asayesh Organization for the People of Afghanistan. Yousofzada has currently


established an arts gallery with her own funds to enable artists to exhibit their works so that the artists are encouraged both materially and psychologically. The gallery known as Shamama Contemporary Arts Gallery is the first of its kind in Afghanistan.

Through her activism in civil society, writings and participation in various mass media programs, she has become a known face in Afghanistan. To overcome various social ills in the society, she had organized and led numerous peaceful protests with good results (Personal interview, 13 April 2014).

Last but not least, as a government employee Yousofzada has developed anti- harassment policy guidelines. The guidelines which have become part of recruitment contract of civil servants in IDLG and subnational governance entities has created a favorable working environment for women and youth to better perform in subnational governance entities.

Sahar Gul was born in rural north of Baghlan, a province of Afghanistan. She had lost her father in childhood and her mother married again and Sahar Gul was sent to her brother‘s home. When she attained fourteen years, her brother and his wife forcefully married her to a thirty year old man in exchange of ten thousand dollars in 2011. Sahar Gul was imprisoned for about seven months and subjected to torture and abuse by her husband and his family.

In first January 2012 Police officers found "Sahar Gul" in the basement of her home after the report of the neighbors and noticed that her nails and hairs were pulled out and some parts of her skins picked out by tweezers. The family of Sahar Gul forced her to prostitution. Police announced at that time that the torture and injuries were because she was fighting back against their will and struggled not to give in to their demand. All the members of the family including her husband were arrested.

After the media coverage of this event and the arrest of the accused, many women started to reveal the stories from domestic violence and forced marriage. These women sent their stories to newspapers or weblogs. Private Bloggers who wrote about their own stories requested for sharing the personal experiences, to post them and suggest anything to prevent them. One of these web logs called ―Daughters of Rabia‖

that began to collect feminine stories and alongside the posting of them, she educated the ways of confrontation and aiding home violence in her blog. The author of the


blog (Noorjahan Akbar) is an active women rights activists in Afghanistan, started to train and educate women in a series of organized YouTube videos that were visited by several hundred thousand people and also Facebook page. She invites all women to write about their experience and reflect them in her pages (noorjahanakbar.wordpress.com).

There is a note on violence against women written as ‗St. Marry was too virgin‘

on the blog ‗Ecstasy on pavement‘, and the user of that blog, Soode had written about all the domestic violence experiences she had witnessed in the society. She portrays an image of a working woman of Afghanistan abroad on her blog and narrating the daily experience of a patriarchal culture and its reflection on the society in a way that women could be both the victims of it or projecting it themselves as well (soode61.wordpress.com).

The ‗Ama Sangari‘ web log also has a note of forced marriage of girls named

‗Sahar Gul, behind the fact‘ and explains on those women that face domestic violence shows no reaction to it.

The writer of this blog ‗Amazon‘ states the people of Afghanistan had many years of war and experienced being homeless,, therefore protecting the rights of women doesn‘t carry the importance for them anymore. He even accuses the journalists who writes about those women suffering but do nothing about it. And that is how Amazon tries to reflect the pain and sorrow of Afghani women through the notes and interviews and provide them with solutions (amasangari.wordpress.com).

In the blog of Shiddokht, Munera who is the writer of the blog criticize the long history of ignorance and domestic violence towards women having sociological perspective to Afghanistan society. She wrote that Afghanistan is a land that throughout the history witnessed many wars and violence. Amidst the war, women and children are more susceptive to harm. Even after war their position hasn‘t changed since the one achievement of war for them is just ignorance.

Because of this ignorance, girls are forced to be married at early age or the marriage turns into some kind of business exchange and cutting ears, nose and lips are included among common) violence against them. In the society where beating a wife by her husband is his right and even before marriage the family suggests the girt that


being beaten is the proof of the affection of her husband, witnessing such violence is not surprising. Only a few numbers of families suggest that the girl shows some courage and go to the court. In the case of SahaGul, with all the fear she exhibited from her husband‘s family, she went to the court and said nothing but truth the whole time (shiddokht.blogspot.in).

The protesting voices of women after that against the exploitation and violence for women reflected on all parts of the society of Afghanistan especially in case of Sahar Gul and brought about a law banning violence against women executed in 2009 by President Hamed Karzai. Human Rights Watch in Afghanistan also made an appeal to all institutions and individuals with influence in the government to make an effort to provide a proper field for the laws on banning violence against women to be acted out.

Since the society of Afghanistan is a combination of tradition, superstition, excise, cultural and tribal conventional and since it is also a product of mechanism in social, material and spiritual relations kept under rear dominated system of master – slavery, certainly abandoning the rights of women, captivity, slavery that includes "selling their daughters" is considered a principle that had been accepted culturally.

For example, in the system and culture of Afghanistan that more than 90 percent of the population is in the villages and remote areas far from urban civilization and they are at least about a century away from any civil rights, economic, political, cultural values, people of these villages sometimes couldn‘t maintain the education and other supply to for their children especially due to repeated drought, hence, they put forward their daughters for sale in the name of marriage and gave them away to the first buyer. At the custom of the rear villages of Afghanistan, it was common to name the price of the girl as ‗gift‘, ‗cattle‘ or ‗payment for mothers breast feed. And since the trade of good – money hasn‘t grown fully then, and people dealt with agriculture completely, the good on good trade was more popular among them. They price the girl along with cattle, sheep, horses, goats, and even dog. So a girl is always valued with "domestic animal" and unfortunately this had been accepted in the traditional society of Afghanistan. So the order of society, continuous poverty and social culture of tribes caused any injustice, captivity, rape and even killing women in


all areas of Afghanistan. These had happened from the time when Taliban was not in power and not even the previous ideologies and dominance.

Having understood all these aspects, we realize that even legal battles take much time to get results. Authorities in Afghanistan had many other issues such as drug, trafficking, Taliban or Al-Qaeda terrorists groups and official corruption of the system to fight and therefore they had become ignorant towards women issues except the time that social activists and civil society pressurize them to act.