Following call was sent from afghan grassroots women’s activist Zoya:
The women of Afghanistan have been living a catastrophic life for the past four decades. Today they are in the captivity of different sides in a complex ongoing war: they are suppressed by the misogynist Jehadi gangs, the incompetent and corrupt government, the Taliban criminals, and the emerging murderous IS. In such hard times, when the cries of our women are throttled, we call for the following:
- Peace and security for the people, and especially the women who are the prime victims of this volatile situation, is the first and most important demand of Afghan women. Lack of security means no other aspect of life can take shape. Constant fear of unpredictable airstrikes and drone attacks by foreign forces, and suicide attacks by terrorists have held our people hostage. Rapes, abductions, lootings, killings, and other crimes are today common occurrence in our society due to the impunity offered to the powerful groups committing them.
- International powers and neighbouring countries of Afghanistan should adopt an honest policy towards eliminating terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Today we clearly see that after fourteen years of the ’war on terror’ the Taliban have not only gotten more powerful, but another brand of Taliban, under the name of IS, has also emerged. We call for all international peace-loving organisations to pressurize their governments to make serious efforts in uprooting terrorism of all kinds, instead of playing games with them. Extremism of all shades can be rooted out if world powers show sincerity and stop double-standard policies.
- The struggle in eliminating violence against women should be stronger than ever now. Women in all parts of Afghanistan including the capital city, continue to suffer from horrible kinds of violence. Tens of cases of beatings, immolations, honor killings, murders, and other crimes occur every day and there is no protection for the victims. The lynching of a woman named Farkhunda in the center of Kabul in broad daylight highlights the plight of women and the freedom with which such gruesome crimes continue to take place today. Justice is trampled shamelessly. The incompetence of the government and the domination of fundamentalist warlords protect these violators. The passage and implementation of pro-women laws is an effective step in this regard, but the government has failed miserably at it. A few pro-women laws were made to throw dust in the eyes of the people of the world, and for attracting funds from international organizations, but these laws were never practically implemented to help the ill-fated women. A lesser known fact is that there were several barbarous laws (like stoning for adultery and discarding family members as witnesses in cases of domestic violence) which were passed by the legislature composed of misogynist Islamists, but were overturned due to pressure from international bodies. The courts itself pass sentences without following laws and proper procedures due to corruption and fear of powerful warlords. This situation is also the reason for the alarmingly high rates of psychiatric illnesses, depression, and suicides among Afghan women.
- The exodus of millions of dollars has done nothing for the betterment of our women due to the corruption in the government. Funds given for education and medical care of women has never been spent for these causes, so we want strict international observation of how this money is spent, so we can be sure that the funds go to the women who need them.
- The establishment of free education centers for women all over Afghanistan is vital for this struggle for women’s rights. This step is particularly important in the face of growing extremism in our country and the construction of religious schools (madrasas) which breed this extremism. Education will help these women rebuild their devastated lives, to gain an identity and confidence, and change their future, and the future of our country. For example if a mother is educated not only will she have a good life but will also raise her children as good human beings and not as terrorists who will be a threat to the safety of Afghanistan and the world.