Post-war Reconstruction in Afghanistan

On the other hand, Amnesty International has reported that severe sanctions on women have given birth to a plethora of problems, including, economic, health, and social crises. According to the UN report 2021, 87 percent of women experienced domestic violence, 28 percent were married before the age of 18, and 60 percent of girls are out of school. Meanwhile, in 2021 Afghanistan was ranked last on the Global Women, Peace and Security Index and 166 out of 167 on Gender Development Index. This sad state of affairs needs immediate international attention to address women’s rights in Afghanistan.

3. Post-conflict Reconstruction: Challenges

Historically speaking, the decade of King Amanullah Shah was a golden period for women’s rights; he proposed girls’ education, abolished forced marriage, and put a restriction on polygamy. During King Zahir Shah’s regime, gender segregation was abolished and women’s suffrage was enacted. During Communism in the country, co-education and female employment was brought. However, this rosy picture did not last long. In the Taliban’s first regime strict Sharia laws were imposed on women. During the Taliban’s second regime one can expect the same. The post-conflict reconstruction is not easy when the Taliban are ruling over Afghan soil. The gender-sensitive policies in the country face a sea of challenges. Taliban are harsh towards women’s development and the main reason they give is the conflict between Sharia and Women empowerment. Sharia is commonly used in Islamic Law.

“Mohammad Zahir Shah, last king of Afghanistan, dies at 92” – The Jerusalem Post

3.1. The conflict between Sharia and Women Empowerment

Islamic law or Sharia is the constitution of Afghanistan. it is based on Quran, Sunnah of prophet PBUH and Fiqh. Undoubtedly, the Islamic law in Afghanistan is replaced by Afghanistan law as the Taliban government has used their favorite teaching and injunctions to impose severe sanctions on women. The Afghan constitution is molded as social control of women, and the cultural and tribal society can be examined in that constitution. Women are killed if they do not marry a person of their parent’s choice; they are killed if they go outside. They are killed, abducted, and get disappeared in offices, schools, workplaces, and streets of Afghanistan in the name of Islamic Sharia. Contemporary Afghanistan offered little institutional support to women. In the Taliban government, the rising numbers of Islamic parties and orthodox Islamic injunctions have done injustice to Afghani women. Many Muslim scholars and women activists oppose this. The religious essence of the Afghani constitution is the wrong implication of true Islam. Many Muslim women activists are using Sharia for gender equality. According to them, in Islam education is for all without any gender discrimination. On the other hand, the women advocate that Sharia does not give any right to child marriages. These women activists share stories of Ayesha – wife of Muhammad who was the first one to render a decision based on Islamic law and men had followed. Hence, there is a dire need for an open-minded discourse on Islamic Sharia and Women empowerment.

3.2. The Cultural Conflict

Afghanistan is culturally a Tribal land. Society has male-dominated hierarchies based on the kinship of tribes or clans. The tribal agreements shape the politics, society, and military of the state. The tribe leadership and tribal structure are where the problems of women lie. Women are seen as inferior creatures in Afghan society. The Afghan men see women’s empowerment as a threat to their patriarchy and male dominancy. The patriarchal society leaves little room for women’s inclusion in the decision-making process even at the domestic level. In a country like Afghanistan, men are the master of the house, and the honor, tribe, and status of women are crucial for Afghan men. This is the main reason why Afghani men speak little about women’s rights. For an Afghan woman, a man is always controlling her at home, in society, and at the state level. Moreover, the women are confined to household chores and subordinated at household levels. Similarly, the youth bulge, which mostly constitutes Afghan men, is also a threat to women’s demography in the country. It generates issues of domestic violence, political conflict, and women’s oppression. Hence, one can say that Afghanistan law is made by men and gives no space to women. The cultural force is visibly in the post-conflict reconstruction of gender equality.

3.3. Lack of Education

Another challenge is the lack of women’s education in Afghanistan. Education is the first step towards empowerment but in Afghanistan, 60 percent of girls are out of school; whereas almost 76 percent of women are living in rural Afghanistan. Due to the decades-old war, the infrastructure is hugely damaged and there is less number of girls’ schools in rural areas. To get education, girls must travel far to areas which are not allowed. As girls cannot travel without a Mehram, the presence of a Mehram at home during school time is imperative. Many Afghani people belong to the labor force and they have to leave home before dawn and come back after dusk. Moreover, autonomy is an issue of honor, to be within boundaries and to protect girls’ honor is the duty of the family. When one violates these limits, it is seen as a violation of the tribe and family. Nevertheless, this is also one of the reasons for female illiteracy and veiling. The Taliban regimes have imposed the traditional methods of social control. Hence, poverty, tribalism, patriarchy, early child marriages, and further distance are some of the hindrances to girls’ education in Afghanistan. Due to poverty, the option of online education is also not feasible. Nevertheless, schools at the community level can be a way out; for this, but the support of the government will be needed. TURN PAGE >>