Why you wouldn’t want to be a woman in Afghanistan.
Today in New Zealand, we take our freedom much for granted, even as women. Rights of voting, education, health care, being able to work and choosing when and who you marry. This thought of relative peace that we have here, is similar to what the women in Afghanistan had before their government was overthrown and the Taliban Regime began. The lifestyle that these women were accustomed to was drastically changed for the worst. Afghan women now rank near or at the bottom of the majority of reasonable world rankings including life expectancy, suicide rates, health care access, education access, domestic violence and more.
Violence against women in Afghanistan is like an epidemic. Global rights have estimated that almost 9 out of 10 women have experienced at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage in their lifetime. Most of this abuse actually comes from a family source and these women are having to return to these homes every single day as there is little to no alternative for them. After young girls have been forced into marriages, it is not unlikely for them to be admitted to hospital due to psychological trauma, state of shock and other extensive injuries. When married, these women have close to the lowest status in the family, so are more likely to be abused by their husband and in-laws. Across Afghanistan, there are 14 protection centres and many of these have been put under threat due to donors and foreign governments cutting funds and the national government is not filling the gap. Some leaders within the government are even calling for them to be shut down. A male member representing the city of Herat stated this: “These so-called safe houses are very bad. They protect people who are doing the wrong things and are giving them immunity. They open the gates to social problems.” SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE ADDED
Another major issue for Afghan women is health care. The UN Secretary-General stated that “The health situation of women in Afghanistan is among the worst in the world.” This status has been affected by long-term conflict, population movement, low socio-economic status, difficult access to the services and a low ratio of female to male doctors. US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, who recently visited Afghanistan, said, “War and the Taliban have devastated Afghanistan and its medical infrastructure, and the nation’s health challenges are most serious for its women and children.” Their maternal mortality rates remain amongst the worst in the world. A survey done by UNICEF that was completed amidst both urban and rural areas found that there was an average of 1,600 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, a figure suggesting that Afghanistan is the worst country in the world for a woman to become pregnant. Taliban restrictions along with 20+ long years of war have set back the health status of woman immeasurably. With ongoing assistance from the international community, Afghanistan now has a prime opportunity to reverse the wrongdoing if the word continues to be spread.
Young girls that attend school in Afghanistan are also suffering from high levels of Anxiety and Depression due to ongoing war trauma, family violence and associated social problems in their everyday lives. These young girls, around the age of us now, receive the littlest amounts of sympathy from everyone closest to them. In 2016, some girls in 12th Grade at a high school in Herat were getting high on Tramadol, a prescription painkiller to ease their anxieties. Fatema, one of the students said: “Those students who don’t use it, it’s because they don’t have the same problems we do when we take Tramadol, it helps us forget about our trouble and pain. We don’t want to use it, but our problems compel us to do so.” Another woman, 25-year-old, Jamila – said she had suffered from depression ever since her brother was killed in a suicide attack in 2014. “I mostly just cry on my own… When I am in a bad way, instead of supporting me, my family gets angry at me and tells me that I have gone mad.” Jamila lost her job as of discrimination and then being alone at home only deteriorated her condition. She was finally admitted to hospital. Even though these women have been dragged through the gutters, statistics are resurfacing on a much better level due to early recognition and proper treatment.
In conclusion, Afghan women live in a country overflown with sexism, nothing like New Zealand. Every woman in every country should have the same rights as one another and Afghanistan should be no exception.