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But for the accident of our birth in a democracy, any one of us could face the same horrors that Afghan women are facing today, as the patriarchy, the oppression and violence against women is the same.
For a long time my knowledge of Afghanistan was only limited to the terror outfit – Taliban, hijacking of the IC814 flight back in the 90s and of course the deadly 9/11 attacks that shook the entire world.
Last year, I stumbled upon author Khaleid Hosseini’s books which gave me an in depth peek into the Afghani culture, its people and the socio economic structure of their country. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it snows in Afghanistan and some of its culture matches exactly with that of our own. The vivid descriptions of snow clad mountains and breathtaking scenery made it really difficult for me to believe that how could such a beautiful country be ravaged by war for more than two decades.
But there was good news. The country was slowly scrambling back to its feet.
And then the unthinkable happened. Taliban swept away everything within the blink of an eye.
Today, every newspaper and TV channel is full of news from Afghanistan. It’s heartbreaking to see pictures of thousands of Afghans scrambling for a seat on the few flights sent for evacuation. Looking at the stampede and mayhem, I was reminded of a similar picture from the days of the 1947 partition which showed a train loaded with people hanging from all sides.
Is history repeating itself? Probably.
But what scares me the most is the plight of the Afghan women.
After reading their horror stories, I sit numb unable to stop myself from comparing their fates with our own i.e us Indian women.
Since the time feminism and women empowerment gained momentum, our society has been changing radically. It now encourages women to work not only before marriage but also after motherhood. In fact, we now see a steady stream of women employees in various professions where female deployment was unheard of.
The news says that the first thing the Taliban did after conquering a city was to escort working women from their workplace back to their homes forbidding them from joining back. Instead, they could replace their position with a male relative. A severe blow to the self esteem of the women who had studied and worked hard to achieve all these! Now they are back to square one, confined within the four walls of their house.
There was this one particular piece of news which really shook me hard. During its last regime, the Taliban had asked to send widows aged between 15-45 to them so that they could be taught the real value of religion. The same seems to be happening now. I can’t even bring myself to imagine what nightmares await these unfortunate souls.
Today, we have fast track courts, we can stage protests, shout slogans, rant on the social media and force the lawmakers to punish the culprit.
What will these women do when the law itself mandates sexual slavery for them? Do they have any other option?
As the rest of the world continues to fight against gender inequality, caste and racial discrimination, domestic and sexual violence, these women have been thrown back into the dark ages once again with the rest of the world closing their doors on them.
My heart breaks at their plight. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel grateful to be a citizen of India. Agreed there is no dearth of problems or issues here. Yet our country has a constitution that grants basic human rights to all its citizens, at least on paper, and at least contestable. There certainly are horrific things happening here, especially for those marginalised, but a large number of us are also safe!
One might argue that our Indian society is filled with flaws and outrageous patriarchal bearings. But one cannot deny that we have judiciary systems where we can take our grievances and demand justice.
At least we possess the right to rebel and fight.
But do the people of Afghanistan possess even this basic right?
These are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind when I read today’s newspaper. Debatable, but they are completely my views.
Sending prayers to the people of Afghanistan. May God restore peace in their lives soon.
Image source: Juanmonimo from Getty Images Signature, Free for Canva Pro
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