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03. May 2005

Habiba Sarobi © Declan Walsh

Habiba Sarobi, Afghanistan´s first female governor.

Afghan men dancing © Mabi Angar

Young women in Besud, Afghanistan © Mabi Angar

Aghan women on the move?

Since the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001 the situation of the afghan women did not really change for the better.

President Karzai initiated a nationwide campaign for strengthening women rights for raising awareness. But the afghan daily life is still not usual.

Last week the reported stoning of a young woman because of adultery made its way into the international public arena for the first time since the fall of the Taleban.

Shortly after the invasion of American troops in Afghanistan the agony and life of the afghan population was of worldwide interest. But it was only a question of time till there was another war in another country which was more interesting. What was left was the poor afghan people, liberated quickly from the oppressing regime trying to continue living in this vacuum.
In a society where policy is dominated by religious traditions the way towards equal opportunities between women and men is hard and troublesome.

The current plan of President Hamid Karzai, to initiate a campaign for strengthening women´s rights describes a symbol of hope. This campaign will target issues like violence against women, education of girls and health says Nasreen Haqnigar, speaker of the afghan Women´s Ministry. In cooperation with 100 NGOs a national action plan for supporting women´s rights should be established.
At the moment Karzai is really engaged in women´s issues: he wants to forbid and punish forced marriages.

The former women´s minister Habiba Sarobi now is the first female governor, which marks a really big advance in term of women´s rights, not only in the comparatively progressive capital Kabul. Afghan governors are usually brusque and bearded men who prefer armed conflicts, sweet tea and politics in crowded rooms. The gentle and maternal Sarobi doesn´t come up to this cliché at all. She objected to the more prestigious job of an ambassador and asked Karzai to be governor of the province Bamiyan. He was surprised, says Sarobi.
The beginning was hard, gut in the meantime Sarobi is supported by the afghan people. The men, also her bearded forerunners now want to see exactly what she is doing and how, but she is optimistic to reach more in this position than in the women´s ministry.

Meanwhile we notice more and more incidents of violence against women and girls. Adultery is according to the Muslim law, the Sharia, forbidden in Afghanistan and is punished with draconian punishments. For the first time since the fall of the Taleban a 29 year old women was stoned to death because of suspicion of adultery; the man who was suspected as her lover got 100 whippings. Under the Taleban public stoning was usual and one of the official war reasons for the USA. This current case is the first which was made official since Karzai is President. Kabul immediately sent a team to the remote province of Badakhshan to examine this incident.
The enquiry already brought first results: the woman seems not to have been stoned, but shot to death. The local religious scholar who ordered the execution, the woman´s father and four other men have been arrested, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry. Shortly, they will be brought to trial in Kabul.

Indignation is big and helps to call louder on an international level for women´s rights.

Sources: The Guardian, diestandard, arab news, Women´s Alliance fo Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan (WAPHA) /Reuters.


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