There is no time like the present to talk about how being a woman appears to put you at significant disadvantage almost globally. Yet, I am not going to use this to talk about us in the West. There is no doubt that the rise of Donald Trump puts into question the rights of women in America and there is still a long way to go in the UK in terms of equality in pay and domestic violence. However, we cannot even begin to compare this with the rights of women in Afghanistan.
There is not a country in the world that better portrays the idea that women should neither be seen nor heard. During the war in Afghanistan from 2001-2014, women’s rights were supposedly at the forefront of many discussions yet it doesn’t appear to have made a lot of difference. Afghanistan is undoubtedly a patriarchal society in which men are allowed more than one wife and having a daughter is not not celebrated like having a son. Men are in charge of the household and women are expected to obey whatever the man of the house says. A man can decide if a girl can go to school, get a job, influence what they wear and where they go (although its rare to go anywhere). This is not my place nor plan to be a hypocritical western woman and suggest alternatives. It is simply my opinion to voice this. Women in Afghanistan believe they are not allowed to fall in love, they are not allowed to have feelings. They will learn to love the man that their family chooses for them, of whom they probably will not meet until their engagement party. Often, women are beaten, they are forced to be like slaves cleaning, cooking and looking after their entire families or their husbands. Many women still wear the burkha meaning they cannot be seen and they themselves can barely be seen. In fact the burkha often causes many women to have Vitamin D deficiencies due to their lack of contact with sunlight.
It makes me dead inside to imagine. If I were born in Afghanistan a girl as part of the global postcode lottery, how different my life would be. I would not have gone to school, university, worn the clothes I wanted, fallen in love with who I wanted, had the right to say no to things that I do not want to do. Afghan women are often not given the choice to do any of such things. This is a discussion about forced oppression and freedom. A woman should be able to choose whether she wants to work or not. Whether she wants to wear a burkha or not. Whether she wants to fall in love or have an arranged marriage – that is not or anyone else let alone in the west to decide.
“No one is free when others are oppressed”. Women cannot be free until the women of Afghanistan are and I pray for their freedom.