Rukhsana, a 21 year old woman, was surrounded by a crowd in the Ghor Province of Afghanistan in November of last year. There were Taliban, warlords and locals who had stones in their hands and were throwing them at her.
She was begging for her life and kept claiming her innocence. She was allegedly involved in adultery. The reality was that she did not show her consent to marry a person whom she did not know. The crowd ultimately stoned her to death.
It’s a fact that stoning to death is legal in Afghanistan according to a law passed in 2013. Rukhsana was only one example. Thousands of women are being executed and slaughtered in Afghanistan. Women are awarded death if they fail to prove their virginity on their wedding night.
Afghanistan is considered the worst country for women in the world. Virginity tests for women are conducted on a large scale. According to The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), 48 out of 53 females accused of adultery had been sent for virginity tests in this week. Besides, domestic violence is common in the whole country.
“If you want to know how civilised a culture is, just look at how they treat its women,” says Bacha Khan, a political activist. This, no doubt, is the best way to determine how civilised a society is. And what better time for that than March 8, when the International Women’s Day was celebrated in the whole world to acknowledge the worth and services of women?
These celebrations are regardless of the fact that the women from many underdeveloped countries don’t even know what International Women’s Day is. Disparity is everywhere but its worst form can be seen in the underdeveloped world.
Take the example of Congo, where according to a survey, 1,100 women are raped every year. Their government is not doing anything for the welfare of women. No woman can sign a legal document without the consent of her husband.
The sobs of women who passed through the pain of genital mutilation were not heard by Mali’s government. Just a few women could escape from this heinous and painful experience. Although there is no place for genital mutilation in the law of Mali, yet it has been practiced on a much wider level. Early and forced marriages are customary practices of the country. Similarly, the condition of women in Somalia is pathetic. Around 95 percent of girls have to face genital mutilation. The girls of 4 to 11 years in age have to pass through the worst kind of genital mutilation experiences.
There is more to come. The biggest democratic country of the world, India, has failed to protect women from violence. Around 70 percent of Indian women are victims of domestic violence. It would not be an exaggeration if we say that India is identified by rape. A woman is raped every 29 minutes. Death after 77 minutes can be seen due to the crime of not bringing dowry.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is no different than other countries mentioned above. According to Fauzia Viqar, Chairperson, Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), “1,000 women have been killed in hounour killings last year.” Most women face domestic violence in the country. Around 6,500 cases of violence against women have been reported in the province. Sheer discrimination can be seen in the judiciary, where only 14 percent females are Judges, while 86 percent judges are male in the Lahore High Court, in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. The representation of females as government officials from grade 21 to 22 is zero.
But the silver lining is that there are voices of dissent and these are getting louder by the day. There are many women who have raised their voices against injustice and have become symbols for women. Sharmeen Obeid Chinoi, Malala Yusuf Zai and Asma Jahangir are just a few examples. We have also passed the Women Protection Bill 2016 against any kind of violence. It is a victory for women, not only of those belonging to Pakistan, but those living beyond its frontiers as well.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2016 is “Planet 50-50 by 2030.” The intention is to make the world free of discrimination by 2030 where parity is seen everywhere. Now women cannot be confined to homes as if they were living in the cave era. It is time to allow them to explore the world so they can contribute to progress, prosperity and peace.
I would like to conclude my write-up with the words of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women who said, “Each one of us is needed in our countries, communities, organizations, governments and in the United Nations, to ensure decisive, visible and measurable actions are taken under the banner: Planet 50-50: Step It Up for Gender Equality,”