What women face in Afghanistan? What role can you play in women’s life? “One of 60 cases of domestic violence that we encountered last year was Marzia’s self immolation case” Said Ms Hassina Neekzad, the director of Western Afghan Women’s Network during the interview. A week before the New Year starts at 11:30am, while I was in a conference, I received an urgent call from Maliha, my colleague. She said, “hurry up! Come to hospital, there is an urgent case that a girl burned herself and needs help.” I left the conference in five-minutes, took the ambulance from the public hospital and moved toward the girl’s house. We saw a ruined home which had two rooms, one room full of garbage and another one for 7 persons, two parents and 5 children. It was their kitchen too. Marzia was screaming lay on an old and dirty mattress at the one side of this room. It was very hard to bear the bad smell of her body even from the main entrance to their house. She didn’t want to go to hospital. She didn’t want to show her body to others. It has been 8 months since she burned herself. The mother was curing her at home. We put her in ambulance and conveyed her to the burned section. She was crying and cursing all of us that why we took her to hospital. We put the gloves and washed her by the help of the clinic’s nurse. The doctor came and bandaged her wounds. I had to go back to the seminar. During the break time I called Maliha and asked about Marzia, from my colleague. She told that her pain was subsiding. She told me happily that Marzia is thanking us for bringing her to the hospital. Doctors said that she got bad nourished, and need to eat good food. We started preparing fruits and cooked food for her food at office and collected money from staff. After one weak, we took her to her home and provide her some raw food, and fruit. Marzia is 21 year old girl had forced marriage with an illiterate, very poor person. she used to live in Iran, her father was working. She was a daughter of a middle class family, and she went school till 11th grade, that Marzia’s family moved to Afghanistan three years ago. They were living in the borders of Iran in Islam Qala that her father became handicapped by a street mine during working. Marzia’s family moved to Herat city, but their economic situation was very bad, her father was not able to work. Her little brothers were busy to picking up the garbage on the streets. She lost her 12 year-old sister because of having diabetes and not being able to cure her. She got married forcedly with an illiterate old man that she has never seen before, and she had a very bad and hard life with him. So she decided to escape this life and ends for her suffering, she poured gasoline on her body, and sat on fire herself to die. Recently, we took her to Red Cross clinic; there was a helpful French doctor, she helped her so much and told us that she can keep her there until she can move or can walk. The next day, we went there, we were told that her mother and she left the clinic and told the doctors that there is no body at their home to take care of her brothers and father. It was not correct because one day that we went to her house, we realized that she and her family were addicted to opium. It was very painful and sad. We tried to introduce them to relate clinic. We helped her so much and it was the only case that we are still looking for her and concerning about their lives’ situation. Not only self immolation is a very vicious domestic violation, but also we evident other sorts of domestic violence in Heart, or Afghanistan which is shocking and very sad. As Ms Laila a woman activist, who didn’t want to mention her job and real name for her security, narrated Shafiga’s case. Shafiga 32 year’s old is in the Public Hospital of Herat province to be amplify, and all injuries and skin get better. She is a mother of four children, her oldest child is 13 and the youngest one is only 3 years old. Shafiga is living in Shahzada ha commentary in 5th district of Herat. She has a very poor family, her husband is addicted and a gambler. Her children are begging at the doors of the commentary to find food and survive. One day, when shafiga’s husband wanted to sell the last tools of their house in order to gamble or buy drugs, she resisted and did not let him to do so. Shafiga’s husband takes her and locks her in a complete dark, filthy, room without any window or even a hole worst that a grave, in a very corner of the commentary. Her children beg at the commentary door, and put water and food in a bottle and through it from a hole on the stain metal door for their mother. After four months, her husband was arrested in committing in gambling, and sent to prison for sex months. One month later her 13 years old child went to the prison to take the key from his father, but the father were not accepting to give the key, while they were negotiating, the father slaps the child and the police comes over and asks what is the matter? The child told the anecdote and the police reported to prosecution of the region and Women Affairs. The police along with government agents went and released Shafiga. While Shafiga came out of the room, she was in a very bad situation, very weak, yellow, her skin would fall a part if one touch her, the was in a very bad situation grimes were shown between her hand’s fingers. On August 2010, she was transferred to hospital immediately, and her husbands’ case was extended to three years remaining in jail. These cases emphasizes that most women multiple form of violence indicates that a woman who suffers one form of violence is at heightened risk of suffering other forms. According to Diya Nijhowne’s report which presents the findings of surveys on domestic violence conducted with women in 4,700 house holds in 16 provinces located across the Afghanistan in 2008, an overwhelming majority of women 87.2% has experienced at least one form of physical, sexual, or psychological violence or forced marriage in Afghanistan. For example, to specify one province of Afghanistan, Kandahar, 79.5 % of women faced physical violence, 92.7% has faced psychological violence, 42.6% of women have faced sexual violence in their life time, and 87.5% of them have had forced marriage. In fact it is not only the husbands that violate their wives, but also the in law’s family and society has an important role. According to Diya Nijhowne, “mistreatment by family members contains: 30.6% husbands 23.7% mother in law 16.5% none of those listed (means society) 10.4% sister in law 9.9% brother in law 7.4% father in law 1.5% husband’s uncle” These data are shocking, and its result is not only suffering violation of women’s rights, but also it affects their freedom to express their views or beliefs, their ability to participate in social and religious life as well as physical security. This, in broad, prevents women in realizing their social, political, economic, and cultural rights. The possible reasons for higher indicates of domestic violence in mostly southern and eastern border provinces includes greater level of armed in these regions as well as influence of the Taliban with its oppressive ideology towards women. In these regions, there is also scarcity of public services like schools, hospitals, courts, and police forces compared to the rest of the country. Moreover, conflicts southern and eastern border provinces is a cause of increasing mental and physical disorders, such as trauma, are also likely to lead people turning to violence to resolve disputes with family members, that for this reason, occasionally women act violently against women. According to Diya Nijhowne, “finding from the workshops and interviews with women’s organizations provided farther evidence that women from the in law family are frequently responsible for perpetrating abuse, encouraging the husband to beat his wife, or condoning he violence taking place.” This also shows that there is lack of awareness in the society, especially among women. Furthermore, the international and non governmental organizations also hardly accept to operate there because of luck of security which creates difficulties for them and it is dangerous. However, there are many solutions to protect women fro violence in Afghanistan. Firstly, we can reduce violence by providing basic literacy trainings for both men and women as components of activities. As they get a bit of learning’s or basic education, they can have better employment opportunities and better generate income; Secondly, providing opportunities for women to challenge rigid gender roles by learning how Islam, Afghan law and international human rights law safeguard gender equality. Having enough information about Islam and Afghan law for women in Afghanistan is the most powerful weapon that they can protect themselves, because luck of information and knowledge causes violating their rights, and one of the best possible tools to spread this knowledge is strong messages publishing by T.V and other Medias. Thirdly, raising awareness between women, highlighting women themselves as perpetrators of violence also can be a very useful way of protecting women from violence. Finally, youths plays an important role for the future generation, so they should be trained and more opportunities should be given for them to learn more about issues and solve it in their society for the better future. As we have some role models like Ms Hassina Nekzad, she has made many programs that are inspiring and helpful for the women in Herat. For example, She has a training course for violated and disparate women, specially those women who have had committed self immolations and lost their physical beauty. In this course she hires school girls voluntarily to teach those women basic education, flower designing, tailoring and cooking to help women have a better education and skills as well as help them to focus on their inside beauties not physical beauty that they have lost. In conclusion, recognizing domestic violence as a human rights violation also empowers women by classifying them as rights bearers rather than victims. As in United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, article two is written, “violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limit to, the following: a) physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family…” Therefore, by raising awareness about women’s rights in Islam, Afghan law and International law, and also by helping injured women like Shafiga and Marzia we can shape our society and world for the better and witnessing less violation cases but more empowered and happy lives in Afghanistanas well as the world. For my sisters around the world, the only way is not going in Afghanistan to help which is more difficult, but there are other ways as well, like helping own Afghan women to work for themselves. For example, many of the issues I didn’t know about violence, world pulse and this assignment made me to go through all violation cases, learn more, find solutions and made me to think how I can help! As I went through and learned more now I want to help those women like Shafiga and Marzia in some way, if not all but at least one of them. No I feel there are butterflies in the bottles not only in Afghanistan but also can be anywhere around the world, women who are stuck in their life and need others to open the bottle’s door and let them to be free. Lets be those women!

Comment on this Post


Sister, it's really unfortunate that some of our sisters resort to hurting themselves if they find their predicaments unbearable. Even in my country, there was a case in the past (although isolated) when one mother, so pained to see her children starving and feeling helpless and hopeless because she had no way to feed her hungry children, poisoned them to death and then killed herself by drinking the same poison. These desperate cases, where women are pushed to the limits of human endurance and resort to help themselves must end. That's why we are here.

You are right, sister ....there are so many things women can do, but, of course, all women should know. For now there are still so many of our sisters who are not aware and conscious of their own power. We need to raise our voices much louder, that they may hear us and join us in our cries! All the best...

Always, Emie Zoozobrado

It is such a great challenge ..changes are stressful and fearful...

....and when ones mind can see no other way to save themselves other than death. It is hard to think otherwise. God can help these people who are so helpless, sad, and given up on hope by sending them a light a small sense that someone will help them and they are not alone. The feeling of being alone to fight the world of violence and pain is the worst place any human can be.

Feeling of helplessness and hopelessness is the greatest barrier to think with reasoning and have even the slightest conscious of their own power.

This is where we need to work so hard to let these people who suffer alone know that there is help, inform how they can reach for help. Yes, Emie, we have to raise our voice and let them hear, feel they are not alone.

I am telling you even if door is open unless one can trust the person who is opening the door one would not take a step towards it. Life takes them to such a dark place it takes so much effort and strength even to to reach out for help.

Lets work together to help people to choose life to death.

All the best to us Amei