The Lives of Afghani Women : Has it Always Been Th Essay

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The Lives of Afghani Women : Has it Always Been This Way?



The Lives of Afghani Women : Has it Always Been This Way?

A lot of attention has been drawn to the plight of women in Afghanistan. Many people
understand what has been going on with the treatment of women in Afghanistan but very few
understand. There should be more understanding of how women were treated before, during,
and after the Taliban regime.

Afghanistan was a very different place before the Taliban came to power. Women had a
different role in society. They enjoyed much more freedom and equality. They could go to
colleges of their choice and pursue careers they wanted to have. In fact prior to the
Taliban takeover of Kabul ( the capital of Afghanistan ), 60% of Kabul University teachers
were women, half the students, women made up of half of the civilian government worker
population, 70% of the school teachers, 40% of the doctors, some women have served in
parliament (Schulz). Women could go out to restaurants, discos, walk publicly with their
boyfriends, and enjoyed a much looser dress code. The most popular Afghani women's clothes
of the time were in fact, jeans and mini-skirts (Schulz).

The creation and enforcement of the burqa comes from a combination of a misinterpretation
of the Koran and influences from the Pushtun residents of the country. The Koran has a
brief passage that describes that women should abide by decent codes of conduct and their
bosoms and private parts should be veiled (Goodson). In Pushtun societies women have a
lesser role and lead more sheltered lives, but they were still respected (Goodson). So
women had a very restrictive dress code that included wearing veils that covered almost
their entire body till the late 1950's, but it should be noted that they were treated with
a lot more respect and equality than during the Taliban regime (Schulz).

In August, 1959 Prime Minister Muhammad Daoud officially ended seclusion for women and
abolished veiling. He put this into affect using a public statement during their national
celebration of independence. The Prime Minister put together a ceremony where all the
wives and daughters of men with the highest government positions revealed themselves
unveiled to the public. He also strongly opposed any opposition to this idea and made
veiling voluntary. So therefore started a new era where women had a more prominent role in
Afghanistan society (Noelle-Karimi). Things continued to prosper and go well for Afghani
women and their country till December, 1979 when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan and
the war began. As countless Afghani's were forced into the refugee lifestyle, women's
roles were diminished and the concept of veiling and the burqa made a gradual return, both
as a means of protection and to lessen their roles (Noelle-Karimi).

In 1997, the Taliban regime came to power in Afghanistan. Their unorthodox policies and
the strict enforcement of these forever changed Afghanistan. The Taliban forbid all forms
of music, movies, parties, phones, audio and video equipment, electric razors, any form of
entertainment including flying kites (Schulz). Also the Taliban had extensive restrictions
placed on women. Women couldn't appear in public, work, get an education, wear anything
but a burqa, and have any rights before the law (Goodson). Also women were banned from
public baths. In third world countries with almost no running water, public baths are
essential to personal hygiene and health (Noelle-Karimi). The Taliban explained that they
needed to enforce these policies against women in order to maintain unity among their
forces and to prevent their forces from being distracted. Also that it was integral to
their ideological world-view that was shaped in the politics of fear. Another explanation
for the Taliban's policies on women is maybe they just can't implement more substantive
policies (Goodson). Life for women under the Taliban was next to impossible. The burqas
restricted movement, made it difficult to breathe, see straight, and consequently caused
many mental problems along with all the physical ailments. Also since households
containing women had to have their windows painted black, women weren't exposed to any
sunlight further accelerating their mental and physical ailments (Schulz).

The worst thing for the women was when they got caught breaking these rules, no matter how
small the violation. There have been hundreds of reports of women being beat to death or
near death with car antennas just for showing their ankles or wearing white socks. Women
have been burned alive, sprayed with acid, shot, beaten, for showing their hands while
paying for food, or allowing their children to play with toys. Women have been executed
for walking with a man that was not her relative, or walking out of the house without male
relative for an escort. The list of atrocities that the Taliban committed on the female
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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