(MENAFN - Daily Outlook Afghanistan) 'Honor killing, whichhas been deeply embedded in Afghanistan's traditional culture, and violenceagainst women is a common practice in Afghanistan, mainly in tribal belts. TheTaliban's regime (1996 – 2001) consolidated the traditionally establishedculture and patriarchal system in the country and sidelined women in social,cultural, and political spheres.
A large number ofAfghans, particularly Pashtuns in tribal areas, adhere to the establishedtraditions – be it against Constitutional law or Islamic tenets. Although thereare many constitutional and religious ifs and buts in punishing an individual,honor killing is a traditional practice, which is based neither on religioustenets nor on Afghan law.
Rod Nordland, acorrespond for the New York Times, stated in his book 'The Lovers – which isabout two Afghan lovers a Tajik girl Zakia and a Hazara boy Muhammad Ali whodefied the country's tradition and escaped an honor killing – that another girlSafoora also resided with Zakia in the Bamiyan Women's Shelter. He said,'Safoora's case was particularly distressing. Brought to court in a disputebetween two families over the terms of her engagement at fourteen years of age,she was taken into a back room at the courthouse and gang-raped by courtemployees. She complained, but the judges blocked any prosecution of therapists, and so Safoora was in the shelter fleeing their retribution andfearing her own family's wrath against her. He added, 'It is commonplace forAfghan families to murder a daughter who has had the poor judgment or bad luckto be raped; the rapist is often treated with shocking leniency. They call it‘honor killing.'
Honor killings areprevalent in Afghan tribal areas, where tribal code of conduct holds strongsway. Flexibility will be hardly shown to the boys and girls who elope,especially when the two belong to different ethnic or sectarian groups.
Now it is feared thatwith the return of the Taliban, honor killing practices and violence againstwomen will increase. In other words, the Taliban will support tribal code ofconduct and patriarchal system since the bulk of the Taliban militants arebelieved to come from tribal areas with parochial mindset.
It is believed that alarge number of tribal belt residents are potential hardliners, who supporthonor killings and offensive approach towards women. If the Taliban reinforcetraditional practices, when they return after the likely peace agreement withthe Afghan government, women will be prone to further violence and misogynisticapproach.
In the peaceagreement, if signed, it should be stipulated that the Taliban must not touchAfghan constitution or university syllabi and have to support the rule of law.Anyone who resorts to honor killings, which is against law, should beprosecuted. In short, the Taliban's return have not to jeopardizeconstitutional law or democratic principles.
To mitigate violenceagainst women, the government has to establish more universities in all provincesand tribal areas with moderate lecturers to spread awareness about law and therights and freedoms of women. When peace emerges, no single district issupposed to be left behind in terms of having access to schools anduniversities.
I believe that schoolingplays a highly crucial role in decreasing violence against women. If people areeducated, they will hardly fall for the bogus claims of religious hardliners.Meanwhile, traditional culture will be replaced by the rule of law and peoplewill be more rational.
Moreover, there mustbe a strict control on seminaries by the government and the content of thelessons is to be approved by the ministry of education. In short, the horizonof all individuals should be broadened by government's extensive educationalprograms so that there remains no potential for radicalism.
Simultaneously, therule of law should be enforced and no one is supposed to be deemed beyond law.As mentioned above in the case of Safoora, law-enforcers violated law throughraping her and blocking the prosecution.
In some cases, womenwho complain against someone in the court is viewed negatively. It indicatesthat a number of individuals still prefer family cases or violence againstwomen be resolved through tribal councils rather than judicial systems.
All in all, honorkilling is a flagrant violation of law and stems from tribal code of conductand traditional culture. The government should prevent this issue throughextending educational programs and enforcing the rule of law. No one shouldperpetrate this crime with impunity. Meanwhile, the people of virtue should beappointed in judicial systems so that they enforce the law honestly.