July 9, 2017

Throughout history and throughout the world the subjugation of women has been a reality.  In this article in the New York Times the situation in Afghanistan is explained as “the violence had its roots in tribal feuds and the pervasive practice of marrying off girls at a very young age for large dowries.”  The curse on women is never more prevalent than when the culture does not value equality and justice for all – women, poor, minorities, and other “least of these” among us.

In part the article says:

“If Afghanistan is one of the worst places to be a woman, then Ghor, a province so lawless that people often wonder if there is a government there at all, may be the country’s capital of gender-based violence and abuse. Week after week there are reports of women abused or killed in Ghor by men who never face justice.

“There have been 118 registered cases of violence against women in Ghor in the past year, and those are only cases that have been reported,” said Fawzia Koofi, head of the women’s rights commission in the Afghan Parliament, who recently visited Ghor to raise awareness about the lack of justice. “And not a single suspect in these 118 cases has been arrested.”

“There is no value for women there,” Ms. Koofi added. “It is as if she deserves to die.”

With a population of over 700,000 and located in west-central Afghanistan, Ghor is considered one of the most deprived provinces of the country. It has received little government attention over the years, and the rule of law is almost nonexistent in certain parts of the territory. Ghor also shares borders with some of the most violent provinces with strong Taliban presence, making it vulnerable to the insurgency.

Some of the cases in Ghor briefly shock the nation before fading into its long history of abuse.

A teenage girl, Rukhshana, who was forced into an arranged marriage, was later caught fleeing with a lover. She was buried waist deep in dirt and stoned to death in October 2015 by a gang of men the government said were Taliban. The male lover was flogged and set free.

“From her waist up, the rocks had ripped her body and some piece of stones had made it inside her ribs,” said Hanifa, Rukhshana’s mother. “The blood would not stop. There were 12 other women in the room helping me wash her” in preparation for burial, she said.

Aziz Gul, 19, was shot at night and buried before her parents could even see her body.

Police records said she was also fleeing with a man, reportedly a lover, to avoid a forced marriage, when she was caught by a mob and killed on the spot last June. But her parents said she was abducted from her uncle’s house, and after she was recovered villagers accused her of adultery and then shot her.

“They killed her around night prayer, and I heard the news at dawn prayer,” her mother, Belqis, said. “By that time they had buried the body already.”

In the most recent case, a woman named Suraya was trying to flee what she said was an abusive forced marriage of four years. She left in March with her lover and an elderly aunt, who accompanied them to help them avoid suspicion. All three were chased by heavily armed villagers and killed. Their charred bodies remained in the open for days; villagers threatened anyone who would come to pick them up.

Ms. Koofi, the lawmaker, said the violence had its roots in tribal feuds and the pervasive practice of marrying off girls at a very young age for large dowries. By the time the husband-to-be comes up with the money, often after years of labor in Iran, the girl has grown up and developed feelings for someone else.