It’s May 2015 and Afghan officials are meeting with Taliban leaders in China. Where do women stand in these meetings? While token women have been included in earlier talks in Qatar, Afghan women are still second-class citizens without the Taliban being involved. Yet, equality is guaranteed in the Constitution – but it seems it is NOT equality for ALL Afghan women!
Sex Slaves in Their Own Country
In 2009, the world was outraged when President Karzai signed a law legalizing marital rape and allowing men to withhold food from wives who refused sex, President Obama verbally condemned it. The bill was slightly amended and marital rape was withdrawn, but not the “no sex – no food “clause
Sex on Demand- Shite Law
The original version obliged Shia women to have sex with their husbands every four days at a minimum, and it effectively condoned rape by removing the need for consent to sex within marriage.
“Tamkeen is the readiness of the wife to submit to her husband’s reasonable sexual enjoyment, and her prohibition from going out of the house, except in extreme circumstances, without her husband’s permission. This can prevent the wife from working or going to school. It could also prevent her from visiting friends or even shopping. Another despicable part of Shite Law (which represents 10- 20% of population) is that the father and grandfather has exclusive rights and custody over children. By the same law, a rapist can escape justice if he pays the victim or the victim’s family.
Equal Rights Are Enshrined in the Constitution
Is there any real difference between life for women under the Taliban or their present government? The answer has to be “Yes” and “No.” The Taliban outlawed schooling for girls and the present government overturned this ruling. More women are in politics but these numbers are ridiculously low.
Life in Afghanistan 2014 until Now
According to the latest report from the United Nations 2014 was the deadliest year for civilians caught up in Afghanistan’s war since the UN began keeping records in 2009. Civilian casualties, which include injuries as well as deaths, were up 22 percent from the previous record set in 2013,with the count topping 10,000 for the first time. The casualty count among women and children also reached record highs.
In addition to gunning down police, the Taliban have gone after Kabul’s police chief and an outspoken women’s rights activist. That may be because Afghan women are actively agitating for a place at the peace table. According to the international aid group Oxfam, women are being left out of government efforts to start peace talks.
There have been over a dozen peace pow-wows with the Taliban and other insurgent groups, and only three have included women. When a handful of females were allowed to attend, they were criticized for being there without their husbands.
Taliban Meetings – Are Women’s Rights at Stake?
Women are worried that their rights will be bargained away by the Afghan High Peace Council, which has 61 men and only 9 women. The Taliban actually outnumber the women on the Council.
When the Taliban ruled from 1996 until 2001, women had virtually no rights. They could not work or go to school, and could not even leave their homes without a close male relative. President George W. Bush used women’s rights as part of the justification for the war. Though some progress was made early on, Taliban restrictions on women have come back strong.
There can be no real peace with honor if women are left out. Even though the Afghan constitution guarantees women’s rights, let’s hope President Obama urges President Ghani (new president) to include women when they meet. Without women at the table, women’s rights will be an empty promise if peace is ever negotiated.