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Issues: Mutilation and Ba’ad

Analysis of Women‘s Issues Raised in the Blogs

6.4 Issues: Mutilation and Ba’ad


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.


In summer 2011, Akbar co-founded Young Women for Change (YWC), an organization of volunteers who work for gender equality in Afghanistan. Since then, YWC has gained nonprofit status, formed a male advocacy group, organized monthly lectures on gender and women‘s studies, collected books to build libraries in Kabul and Helmand, and began conducting research on street harassment in Kabul, thanks to a new grant‖ (afghanvoice.org.uk).

Noorjahan Akbar is an out-spoken woman and human right's advocate from Afghanistan. She had worked with several Afghan and global organizations focusing on women‘s social and economic empowerment and ending gender-based violence.

She had also led nation-wide campaigns and protests in defense of human rights and continues to write and advocate for equality. Noorjahan had published on Al Jazeera, and New York Times among other outlets. In the summer of 2013, she published a collection of Afghan women‘s writings in a book that was distributed in several provinces in Afghanistan. Currently, she runs a national blog with over 100 Afghan contributors who advocate for gender equality and social justice. Noorjahan is also a keynote speaker on issues relating to the rights of women and girls, education and sustainable global development. Noorjahan has a BA in Sociology from Dickinson College and a Masters in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University.

Noorjahan had been recognized for her efforts for gender equality at home and internationally. She was Glamour Magazine's College Women of the Year in 2013, had been named one of Forbes's 100 Most Powerful Women of the World and one of The Daily Beast's Women Who shook the World.

Also Free Women Writers was originally a collection of Afghan women's writings in defense of their human rights. The book, published in 2013, was created by two Afghan activists, Noorjahan Akbar and Batool Muradi. Later, Noorjahan Akbar created a blog to publish women's writings in Persian, Pashtu and Uzbeki. Since then, the blog had expanded to include hundreds of articles, poems, narratives and essays about women's health and issues, environmental issues, economic inequality, democracy and other social justice issues and reached tens of thousands of Afghans (freewomenwriters.org).

In 13th December 2013, lips and nose of a 23 years old woman named Setara had been cut with a knife by her husband, she has four children and is a resident of Darbe


- Kandahar of Herat. The husband escaped from home after that. Relatives of the woman say that her husband was addicted to drugs and always forced her to provide money to cover the expense of his drugs (af.Shafaqna.com).

Previously around 2009 another girl named Aisha of age 12 was forcefully married by her father to one of Taliban men and her nose and ears got cut by him. The marriage was an end to a tribal fight, according to the custom of Ba‘ad that is common in Afghanistan since Aisha‘s uncle murdered a relative of the man who later became her husband.

―Ba‘ad is an old custom in all regions of Afghanistan but more so among Pashtu‘s. When a man steals, kills, rapes or is suspected of having an illicit affair, a council of elders called Jirga decides the punishment‖ (hrw.org).

The punishment for small crimes is in the form of a few sheep or cattle. But other punishment for the family or the tribe of the guilty one is to gift a virgin girl of the age of 4 and 14 years old. In theory, a girl had to compulsorily marry a man but in reality the girl exchanged in Ba‘ad can be treated like a slave; she could be beaten or be abused even murdered. This marriage won‘t be officially registered and the right to meet with her family also ceases after marriage (refworld.org).

After getting married with similar style, Aisha received intense violence and abuse from her husband and his family; she then decided to run away but she got caught and was convicted for dishonoring her husband by Taliban field court. In spite of the claim of Taliban fundamentalist groups to follow the real Islam, it is strictly against the laws of Islam to mutilate even animals, let alone doing that to a human which is considered a huge sin. (Noori 1986: 148).

The trial verdict was to cut Aisha‘ s nose and ears and her husband personally took the task and afterwards left her in the range of one of the mountains around the city of ―Urozgan‖ so that she will bleed to death. A group of American soldiers patrolling around that area found Aisha and took her to a clinic. After that, she got transferred to a safe house in Kabul run by charitable organisation for Afghan women and from there to the United States to live and study (See Appendix, image 7, page 274).


Aisha was featured on the August 2010 cover of Time magazine (See Appendix, image 8, page 275), and in the corresponding article, "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban‖ (Baker 2010:71).

―The photo was taken by the South African photographer Jodi Bieber and was awarded the World Press Photo Award for 2010. The image of Aisha is sometimes compared to the 'Afghan Girl' photograph of SharbatGula taken by Steve McCurry‖


Noorjahan in her own blog (Hamisheh Bibi Mahroo) which always deals with mutilation of women, writes that the main accused of these crimes are all the members of the society who stand silent against such crimes. She writes: ‗Stand against violence you see in your family, neighbors and work place no matter how small that is. Don‘t be silent if you see a man is hitting a woman. Don‘t pretend to be asleep if you hear the scream of the women in your neighborhood. Don‘t celebrate when your fifteen years old cousin gets engaged, do something against it. But don‘t do it just for the star as our historical memory is solid evidence that these also be forgotten, instead do it for all those women and men who suffer the violence, rape and harassment day and night since they don‘t have anyone to support them and they are afraid of your judgment. If you are doing something for real, go and sit in front of the ministry of justice to get an answer. Don‘t just leave a post of your Facebook page to soothe your conscience and tomorrow she will be forgotten like Sahar Gul, Ensiye, Mumtaz and Aisha (noorjahanakbar.wordpress.com).

While the number of institutions for defending the rights of women in Afghanistan is not less but during the past few years‘ small changes in the status of women had been observed. It is necessary to mention that the coverage of United Nations in recording instances of violence against women does not mean that violence against women has increased but the publication is based on the perception of increasing it.

Crime specially the honor killing form of it exists since ages but families were not willing to reveal it due to what they thought of as family shame (www.un.org).

Cases like mutilation report to police and other women‘s right organization immediately as it is difficult to hide the fact for long. The main point here is that many of the reports don‘t take place by activists women or women who are by profession working for human rights institutions; these are the women who inform


other active members through Internet and email and other relevant sources and tell about the events and provide a direct intervention of the government, associations and women‘s support commissions in Afghanistan. Writing and informing through media of these cases and the support of institutions caused women in Afghanistan to put aside their fear and ask for help.

Observation of the statistics based on ‗the Independent Human Rights commission of Afghanistan‘ has shown that the numbers of Ba‘ad girls has reduced in the year 2014. But this tradition still is practiced in some far provincial of Afghanistan. The independent commission of human rights and religious leaders had intervened between some families to prevent the Ba‘ad girls and in some cases this commission had put a lawsuit for the sacrificed girl in court. Commission also took some measures in recording all marriages in government official registration and the official document of marriage must be issued because in the Cabala marriage points such as dowry, satisfaction of the both parties and eyewitnesses will be recorded and that itself will act like a strong point to reduce the number of Ba‘ad marriages (www.aihrc.org.af).

Other measures taken by this commission is holding educational workshop on human rights and women rights throughout Afghanistan. In these workshops different cases are trained such as: child rights from the viewpoint of Islam, law and personal rights, right to education and training, rights and responsibilities of citizens in the constitution, democratic concepts, human rights of Islam‘s perspective, law banning violence against women, violence and its domain and also Islamic human rights banners. The participants include scholars, journalists, activists and employees of various institutions (aihrc.org.af).

One of the goals of holding workshops organized by the education commission of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights is introducing the capacity of legal system. The legal system of Afghanistan is more modern an ahead of existing custom of society; as in the constitution and other laws of the country there are lots of capacity for realization of equality exists for all citizens, but since the cultural level of society is low, this prevents citizens from accessing many aspects of constitutional provisions. For example, equality between woman and man also the right of education is reserved for all people and it is mentioned in the constitution of the country but


dipped level of awareness of people, conservative customs in society had prevented many especially women not to realize and be informed about these rights. Also this lack of awareness of women causes them to be silent and obey any decision made for them by the tribe elders or family member. The independent commission of human rights workshops are helping to promote awareness and educate women in all levels of society (aihrc.org.af).

So based on the necessity of promoting human right, there is a need to make awareness of law and promoting them for citizens on their rights, freedom and responsibilities in society. Promoting awareness to parts of citizens about human rights and their duties for application of constitution is gradually allowing people to get familiarized with the legal system before and slowly. Women bloggers have played an important role in highlighting this issue.