Post-war Reconstruction in Afghanistan

3.4. Legal Hurdles

In the post-war reconstruction, women must be legally protected. However, in Afghanistan women are not even entitled to be citizens. Legal reforms are needed in Afghanistan, which also includes criminal and civil codes. Afghan law should not discriminate against women, but in legalization, there is no presence of women because the laws are made by men and barely include women. The constitution needs the amendments of freedom to live.

The absence of women politicians is a major legal threat to women’s rights. And the politicization of gender for personal gains is also a cause behind the lack of women’s participation in politics. As discussed before, Afghanistan runs on a tribal system and any individual is not willing to make trouble with the tribal leader. All the important decisions are made by tribal Jirgas (meetings). Hence, Afghan men will not deliberately anger their tribe leaders and elders.

In injustice and criminal laws, we also find anti-women laws. According to a report, only 3 percent of female judges are performing their duties. The Guardian has summarized the judicial system of Afghanistan in three sections, first, the state law, second the Sharia law, and third the tribal or customary codes mainly known as Pashtunwali. In Afghanistan, it is not a crime in state law if a woman runs away from an abusive home but it is a huge crime in Sharia. History has told us that the Sharia law is above the state law in Afghanistan. According to Oxfam, women shelters in Afghanistan are a few and women have difficulty accessing the judiciary. 87 percent of Afghan women have faced violence including forced marriages. On the other hand, Child marriage is a norm in the country. The BBC reported a 15-year-old Afghan girl Aisha was married to a 30-year-old man in 2011 who used to abuse and detain her with no food. Nonetheless, these issues often gain attention from international media, which may prompt actions taken by the family, tribes, and state.

3.5. Women’s Participation in Politics

On the other hand, the political representation of women in Afghanistan is also negligible. In the 2004 constitution, Afghanistan had reserved 27 percent women seats for the lower house and 17 percent for the upper house. However, in 2021 amid Taliban rule, we seldom see women in politics. Though the international actors such as the UN have advocated for women’s representation in politics there is no pragmatic approach towards it. During US’s quota policy the hopes were high, but since last year there is a looming threat over women’s representation in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 (WPS Strategy) was a major step toward women’s empowerment. Sadly, during the Intra-Afghan talk, the absence of Women’s participation made it a failure. Still today, there is no proper implementation of the WPS act. Hence, Afghan women are missing in legislation which results in anti-women laws. For instance, the necessity of a male family member whenever a woman goes outside is absurd. After enduring years of conflict and violation of their basic rights, Afghani women need the dire support of international players in the Taliban’s regime.

3.6. Economic Dependency

Furthermore, women are financially dependent on male family members. The lack of economic freedom and resources has compelled them to submit to the Afghan men. Afghan women own no property as compared to men. In 2017, only 5 percent of women ran businesses. The UN reported in 2019 that only 15 percent of men were in favor of working women after marriage. Likewise, two-thirds of men argued that women had more rights than men. The rigid rules of the Taliban also prohibit ‘alien’ clothing – a term for western clothes – and working outside homes is strictly prohibited for Afghan women, since a mixed-gender workplace is not feasible for women to work in. Studies have shown that there are fewer opportunities of working from home when women have no skills. Another hurdle is the lack of internet and mobile phones among Afghan women. Without internet accessibility, working from home is impossible. Therefore, economic independence is a must for women’s empowerment. TURN PAGE >>