Gender Inequality: An Afghan Disease

Task One - Peter Bryson

Nazia Hookum Darr is a 16 year old victim of gender inequality. This Afghan citizen was physically abused by her husband until she was rescued by American Forces. Sadly, these attacks have become somewhat of a common trend in Afghanistan. Ms. Darr was abused on Christmas day, when her husband poured boiling water on her hands and feet, broke 16 of her teeth, shaved her head, and cut her nose and ears off. The husband of Nazia Darr attempted to give an excuse, saying he had a recent suspicion of his wife having an affair. This excuse is irrelevant due to the fact that she claimed the man had been "mean to [her] from the time [they] met" (Everdeen). Coincidentally, this man's previous wife “died about a year earlier under suspicious circumstances" (Everdeen). This man was still running from the police when the article was written. When US soldiers had heard about Ms. Darr's beatings, and they were quick to act after this horrifying assault. Nazia Darr is still afraid of her husband's wrath. She has “fears of retribution from her husband or his family members as part of Pashtunwali, a pre-Islamic-era honor code that is still practiced by the majority of Afghans in this rural province of the country” (Everdeen). Looking beyond the darker side of this event, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Afghan government paid attention to this story, and fought extremely well to justify Ms. Darr’s physical wellbeing. Hopefully, this is a sign that in the future things like this will never happen again.

Nazia Darr in the hospital.
Nazia Darr in the hospital.
An Afghan woman peers around a corner.
An Afghan woman peers around a corner.

Everdeen, Capt. Robert. "DVIDS- News- Abused woman to receive plastic surgery". DVIDS - Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System. Web.

Gauron, Lt. Col. Michael. “Abused Afghan woman to receive plastic surgery” Photograph. The Official Website of the U.S. Air Force. Web. November 3, 2010

Hunt, Bethann. "Afghan woman Pashtun" Photograph. January 31 2007. Wikimedia. Web. November 3, 2010.

Task Two - Blake Bentley

Afghan women have been dealing with discrimination for generations. Luckily, there is a group known as the Afghan Women’s skills Development Centre that is trying to make a difference. Over 87 percent of Afghan women have been abused in some way. Also, between 60 and 80 percent of marriages are forced, even though the Afghani government has pledged they will protect women from these abuses and supports the idea of gender equality. Thankfully the Afghan Women's Skills Development Centre tries to help women against these violations of human rights. This group has several different projects but there biggest is to shelter women who have been victims of domestic violence, trafficking, and abusive or forced marriages. The group had this statement to say about the women they are sheltering: “The challenge is what do we do with them once they are in the shelters. It is very difficult to defend the rights of these victims, the police and courts always assume it is the woman's fault and do not offer us any assistance” (“Afghan Women”). Even though the courts know that these women were abused, they refuse to believe that it is at all the man’s fault. Noor Marjan is a 34 year old Afghani woman who is the acting director of the Afghan Women's Skills Development Centre. She has been working for other ways to make women more independent. They have started a program which will help women with their literacy skills through quilt making: “This program revolving fund was initiated and now more than 65 women are getting benefit from it” (Afghan Women Skills Development Center Official Website). The group is doing this to try and educate women so they are less dependent on their husbands and can be considered equal to men. The group is already seeing great results with this program. The organiztion knows if they do not take matter into their own hands nothing will be done: “The vested interest of some groups played an important role to keep the people deprived from their basic rights of getting education” (Afghan Women Skills Development Center Official Website). Hopefully with this group’s efforts, life will improve for the Afghan women.

Afghan women trying to liberate themselves

Afghan women giving a lesson

Work Cited:

Corks, Matt. "The Afghan woman liberate themselves!" Photograph. March 15 2008. Flicker. Web. November 3, 2010.

"Afghan Women Human Rights Defenders Tell of Intimidation and Attacks." Amnesty International | Working to Protect Human Rights. Web. 26 Oct. 2010.

"Afghan Woman in Literacy Class." Photograph. April 29, 2008. Flicker. Web. November 3, 2010.

Afghan Women Skills Development Center Official Website. Web. 26 Oct. 2010.

Task Three - Ryan Small

The abuse and inequality experienced by Nazia Hookum Narr is similar to the abuse and inequality suffered by Fredrick Douglass in many ways. Nazia Hookum Narr is a woman who was severely beaten by her husband. In one of the literatures that we have read “The Life of Fredrick Douglass”, Fredrick Douglass was a slave who was beaten by his master whenever the master got angry with him or for no real reason. The similarities between Nazia Narr and Fredrick Douglass are that they both had a reason to be afraid of the men who abused them. Nazia Narr was very afraid of her husband and she said “I’m afraid of him. He’s a former Talib” (Everdeen). They both suffered physical abuse. As Narr said, “Two weeks after we moved into our new home he beat me for no obvious reason” (Everdeen). Both Narr and Douglass were in a situation where their abusers were in positions of authority over them. Fredrick Douglass was forced to work under very harsh conditions “We were worked in all weathers" (Douglass). Fredrick and Narr were viewed by their societies as lower class citizens with less human rights and legal rights. In Afghanistan, the society doesn’t really value woman equal to men and in America, the slave owners didn’t view their slaves as equal human beings. While these two people lived during very different times, the abuses and inequality they both suffered are similar and comes from fear and insecurity.


Afghan Woman
Afghan Woman

Work Cited

Dombrowski, Quinn. "Slavery Memorial" Photograph. March 19, 2009. Flickr. Web. November 2 2010.

Douglass, Frederick. "Narrative of a Life." McDougal Littell: Literature: American Literature. Ed. J. Allen Et. Al. Vol. 11. Boston: McDougal Littell, 2008. 538-47. Print.

Everdeen, Capt. Robert. "DVIDS- News- Abused woman to receive plastic surgery". DVIDS - Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System. Web.

"I am a woman". Photograph. June 14, 2009. Flickr. Web. October 30, 2010.

Task Four - Group Task

We all agree that the problem of gender inequality in Afghanistan is a huge problem and needs to be stopped. This is why our group has come up with a way to get involved to help solve this problem. First of all, we are going to fundraise by having a bake sale. The second step is to organize some kind of event where we could have a guest who has first hand experience with the gender inequality in Afghanistan. Now that people are more educated by our guest speaker about the situation in Afghanistan, then we might have a little money so we can organize a larger fundraiser. Our larger fundraiser would be similar to Walks for Hunger or Walks for Cancer but instead it will be for Afghani women who have been abused. The next step is to inform people about our fundraiser walk and get people to walk for the cause and donate money. After the fundraiser we will donate all of the money to the Afghan Institute of Learning. This organization helps Afghan women who are victims of oppression or injustice. Finally the last step is to continue to donate to this organization and other organizations that improve the lives of Afghan women. If the walk was successful we could organize one annually. From this we hope that we could improve the situation of Afghani women indefinitely.

Yacoobi, Sakena. "Building a better future for Afghanistan". Afghan Institute of Learning. 2007. Creating Hope International. October 30, 2010.

Task Five - Mike Amato

"The Ghosts of Afghanistan"

When I couldn't breathe
when I lifted a corner of the heavy burqa
when I exposed my mouth and nose desperate to gulp air,
they beat me unconscious
When they beat us again with whips and metal cables
while we waited in the hospital
when the sick babies in their mothers' arms fell on the floor,
my will to live began to tremble.

In the summer of 96 we laughed. I can't remember the sound.
Before that September when the Taliban came
we were no different than you
Now we are the ghosts of Afghanistan
The women and the girls of a whole country
under house arrest.
For trying to go to work, my sister was beaten
For leaving her home alone, my neighbor was tortured
For showing her ankle as she rode behind her husband on a bike
my girlfriend was shot dead on the street.

My children are shrinking before my eyes but
I am banned from receiving food from the World Food Programme.
In the orphanage are girls who
have never seen the sun or trees
My sons are being taught
a man should beat a female who is seen
even through the windows of a home or a bus.

I view the world through a patch of mesh
in a voluminous tent that pulls me to stooping
The garment gates me, takes mobility and voice
When the burqa descends over my tender head
I am invisible, a living woman who can't be seen or heard
My woman's will to live
can strengthen only
on the thread that connects me to you.

This piece of art is a poem about the gender inequality in Afghanistan. The poem shows the repressed life of women in Afghan culture. Women in this part of the world are beaten and even killed by men for the smallest things. "For showing her ankle as she rode behind her husband on a bike / my girlfriend was shot dead on the street." This shows how little it takes for a woman in Afghanistan to be punished. Along with the physical abuse, Afghan woman also have no voice in society and are supposed to stay hidden at all times. "The garment gates me, takes mobility and voice... I am invisible, a living woman who can't be seen or heard." By keeping woman out of the public and not allowing them to socialize at all, afghan men are keeping women down in society. This behavior is wrong and needs to be stopped but in Afghanistan boys "are being taught / a man should beat a female who is seen / even through the windows of a home or a bus.” Educating the next generation that this abuse and gender inequality is ok is going to keep women in afghan society repressed and abused.

Silvermarie, Sue. "The Ghosts of Afghanistan (Poem)."The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Web. 26 Oct. 2010.