The state of women has become pathetic in Taliban’s regime. The world community must stand for Afghan women
It is said that a community becomes prosperous and happy if women in it feel pride in getting married to men of that community. However, the opposite is equally true, that is when women no longer feel pride in being a bride of a particular community. In the latter case, the community is deemed vulnerable and weak. If the Taliban think they can survive as a community in the long run by treating women as inferior beings with no desire and autonomy, then they couldn't be more wrong. For it is women who play a huge part in grooming and nurturing future generations. And if they are denied the basic right to education, then society as a whole can never make any advancement. Ignorance of women's rights in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is horrific. It is said that ignorance breeds more ignorance and that "ignorance isn't always bliss". The war in Afghanistan has ended, but the country continues to bleed. No! It's not blood on the streets this time, but deep, potent, and invisible wounds that are being inflicted upon humanity day in, and day out.
Slowly but surely there will be no women doctors, gynecologists, or even pediatricians in Afghanistan. The infant mortality rate will go up, the ratio of men to women will take a toll, and the community will suffer a major setback.
To understand this, it is important to note that Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are forbidden to go to school. They are married off at a young age, subjected to domestic violence, and find themselves caught in the quicksand of slavery and extreme haplessness. As per reports, the Taliban have carried out inspections in girls' schools and expelled hundreds of pubescent girl students. Their rationale is that once a girl hits puberty, she is more prone to the "vilified" male gaze. Hence, an estimated three million girls in Afghanistan have been deprived of basic education which is deemed a fundamental right by the UN. The way Afghan women live their lives, that is, behind a veil, confined to the walls of their homes, with no freedom to even step outside of their homes in their own country without being chaperoned by a male is a blot on humanity. The lives of Afghan women are governed by diktats of those who have a reputation for being anti-women. They view women as a threat and want their existence to be merely for procreation.
Education is known to be a great leveler for mankind. No matter what caste, religion, or social strata one belongs to, an educated person can be the force of change for good. Depriving someone of education is oppressive, regressive, inhuman, and a deliberate attempt to sabotage their progress. The fact that the Taliban have been able to keep girl children away from schools - both in the past (1996-2001) and today - must be condemned in all seriousness by all nations.
Nobel laureate MalalaYousafzai said, "When girls go to school, countries can recover from conflict more quickly once peace is established. Educating girls helps create stability and binds communities." The converse of it is also true, and that is, when girls don't go to school there is war and destruction, chaos and instability. For any economy to progress, the participation of women, the other half of the population, is extremely critical.
To help Afghanistan tide over the humanitarian crisis when the Taliban took over in 2021, several organizations and countries came forward to help with a stipulation that education for girls would go on and not be stopped. The Taliban agreed, only to renege on its promises later to appease the hardliners in the positions of power. Taliban must be held accountable and the International community must continue to advocate for girls' right to education vociferously. In fact, in the future, the aid provided to the Taliban must be directly proportional to the number of girl students in their schools. Governments, international organizations, NGOs, and social groups must take it upon themselves to reach out to these girls and provide viable means of education through conventional and unconventional means.
Gender equality may seem a far-fetched dream for women in Afghanistan by the current standards. But as we know it, education can bridge the gap between ignorance and awareness of women's rights. It can empower women, liberate them, and can help them come into their own. Things may take time to shape up, but it is education and education alone that can lay the foundation of an egalitarian society, where there's no difference between men and women and gender stereotypes are put to rest.
Since democracies are based on the concept of individual rights, equality, and basic human dignity, it will be in the interest of India to develop relationships with other nations based on their policies on gender equality, education, and fundamental rights. Our position concerning the values we associate with a free and liberal society must be made clear to other nations categorically. Being one of the oldest civilizations, India has an obligation to humanity to stand for the right things, and to that effect, we must propagate and formulate our foreign policies based on the dignity accorded to women in that country.
(The writer is a postgraduate in Journalism and Mass Communication and keenly follows and writes on news pertaining to women rights. The views expressed are personal)