News / Asia

Conflict, Violence Harsh on Afghan, Pakistani Women

Afghan women in line queuing to get their registration cards on the last day of voter registration for the presidential elections, April 1.
Afghan women in line queuing to get their registration cards on the last day of voter registration for the presidential elections, April 1.
Sharon Behn
— Prolonged conflicts in Pakistan and Afghanistan have had a particularly harsh effect on women in both countries. Terrorism, sectarian conflict, criminality and a culture of impunity are limiting women's ability to get to school and get jobs outside the home, trapping them in an ever-smaller public space.
 
During the past decade, women have made significant strides towards social, political and financial empowerment in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. But analysts say the gains are being threatened.
 
In Afghanistan, the Taliban are regaining areas of the country and once again imposing their beliefs that women should not be educated or participate in society outside the home.
 
Nader Nadery, director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, says in areas where there is an absence of rule of law, there is an absolute impunity for those who are committing violence, specifically against women.
 
In those areas, he says, protection becomes a primary issue but is often used against the women themselves.
 
"In some cases, the protection issue becomes an excuse for the male members who intentionally prevent women to be part of society, be part of the economy, be part of the politics, and they bring this issue of I am pushing you in the home because I want you to be protected. This is what the Taliban were trying to do, and still are doing," said Nadery.
 
Pakistani social researcher Nazish Brohi says in areas where the Pakistani Taliban operate or have influence, girls are being targeted, and women are retreating behind the veil and into their houses.

"I think over 500 girls' schools have been bombed. Women councilors who are women who were politically engaged who were elected into office, they were specifically threatened by the Taliban and asked to either stop or withdraw from the political sphere or face persecution. Two of them were shot dead. As a result, the rest of them either resigned or just simply stopped attending office," said Brohi.

In Pakistan's south and southwest, ethnic violence also has forced women to cover their faces and severely curtailed their social mobility.
 
Brohi says with the overall deterioration of the rule of law in Pakistan, women no longer feel the state can protect them. Instead, they are turning to family or local neighborhood councils for help and protection.

"The central concept really seems to be impunity, that the state is unwilling to call these aggressors or perpetrators of crimes into account because of [a] it's own incapacity, [b] it's unwillingness and [c] it's general inefficiency," she said.
 
But the analysts say in spite of the threat of violence or even death, women are still pushing forward in both nations.
 
In Pakistan, more women are attending university and entering the work place, more women are voting, and more are refusing to be forced into marriage. But
Brohi says that comes at a cost.

"What I'm saying is that there is an increasing number of women making their own decisions, and an increasing number of women who therefore face violence for making those decisions," she said.
 
In Afghanistan, where women vividly remember living under Taliban rule when they were punished for leaving the house without a male relative or showing even an inch of ankle, Nadery says women are fighting against legislation that would erode their rights.

"In each of those battles the Afghan women have fought back. They were on the street.  They were in the Parliament house. They were at the office of the president, knocking at his door," he said.

And in each of those battles, the women won.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid