The situation of women in Afghanistan

Women and girls will likely be among the main victims of the failed mission in Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban. The Terre des Femmes organisation has voiced fears that they will be denied the right to education, employment and self-determination. They also face the prospect of full-body veils, forced marriages and public punishment. Notwithstanding their situation some commentators argue that pity is out of place here.

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Habertürk (TR) /

A nightmare scenario

Habertürk columnist Nihal Bengisu Karaca describes the gruesome prospects for women in Afghanistan:

“They will lock women behind walls, make them inaudible and invisible, deny them access to the authorities and legal solutions in case of conflict or violence by men in their own family, force them to agree to a smaller share than their brothers in inheritance rights, force them into marriage, increasingly turn them into child-bearing machines by saying 'the best profession is motherhood' and make polygamy the norm. Men will be able to divorce whenever and however they want while the women whose marriage contract has been terminated will be ruined because they are not allowed to pursue a career.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Support yes - salvation no

Historian Farah Bazzi complains in De Standaard about the West's patronising tone:

“Afghan women deserve our solidarity in their fight against the Taliban. ... Given the long history of Western interference, it is our duty to listen to them. To let them take the lead in their own struggle for emancipation. The arrogant tone which the West has adopted for years when speaking about Afghan women is no longer appropriate. If we look carefully at Afghan women and listen to them, it becomes clear that it was they who really did the work in Afghanistan, risking their lives. They do not need to be saved. But they deserve our support.”

hvg (HU) /

Hypocritical and misguided

Journalist Boróka Parászka explains in Hvg why exporting women's rights has failed:

“The protection of women's rights that international organisations have provided in Afghanistan was not adapted either to the location, the time, or the political reality. The idea of importing women's rights has been as hypocritical as that of exporting democracy. ... Yes, we could have tried to pass on a respect for equality - but only by taking into account local conditions, the rhythm of life and the society's capacity for change.”