It’s been 17 years since the reign of the Taliban came crashing down, but Afghan women still continue to be oppressed and abused. Although the Taliban is long gone, in modern day Afghanistan it’s legacy of war still lingers, striking fear and havoc, especially for women and their rights. These women were and to an extent still are being denied things as simple as choosing what they want to wear and having the right to an education going past middle school and getting forced into things like marriage, religious beliefs and abusive relationships all to survive in their sexist society.

Firstly, Clothing and beauty standards in Afghanistan during the time of the Taliban and now, years later.
It is not law to wear a burka anymore however, it is still considered appropriate attire and it is thought weird to not wear a burka or headscarf when leaving the house. This shows the oppression of women still appearing through in the clothing they are pressured to wear. When the Taliban were in charge all women were forced to wear strict islamic garb if they were going to leave the house. This was because to them women were seen as property and it was inappropriate for other men to be able to see their faces and bodies. This sort of objectification and sexualisation would have had a massive effect of how all women would have felt about themselves and how they valued themselves. Women feeling powerless was the desired result for the Taliban, after all these women were more likely to be subservient wives and mothers, following their husbands ever order. As a female living in New Zealand, a country with equality and freedom, I feel as though being a woman in Afghanistan would be a constant struggle between want you want to express about yourself and what you are forced to hide. A constant life of oppression. As a woman living in Afghanistan, there were many issues to worry about, your financial situation, the safety of your family, war; having to dress in a certain way to please men should not have to be one of them.

Secondly, women were and are being oppressed through religion, in Afghanistan the majority of the population( between 95 and 99 percent) have faith in islamic religion.  Men used this religion to excuse terrible behaviour in the name of Allah, claiming that men were superior. The Qur’an, the islamic bible, is full of sexist comments and claims, for example,”If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them of the teaching of Allah, then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them.” This shows how women are portrayed as property and that women are considered inferior. The main reason why the islamic religion has been considered sexist is in fact because people, men mainly, have not been reading it properly. The have selectively taking phrases from the Qu’ran out of context to manipulate it to favor men and prove them superior, resulting in the downpour of misplaced violence and oppression on women. Because times are changing and all around the world women are being empowered and equality is becoming a reality, religion is becoming less of an issue with oppression and sexism.

Since 2001, with the fall of the Taliban, educating girls has been a big issue. Around 2/3 of girls do not attend school, with girls aged 11 to 18 struggling to finish their education. This is due to family and community pressures, lack of female teachers and not feeling secure at school. Sadly, many girls are forced to drop out of school for arranged marriages. And despite this being a very old fashioned tradition, girls are still being married off at a young age. 1 in 3 girls are married before 18, and the majority of them drop out of school. These restrictions on education lead on to issues like being unable to get a job, unable to support your family or support yourself. Another aspect to the battle for education is money- many families cannot afford to send all/ any of their kids to school. This means that often parents have to choose between their children. Because of this many kids work adult jobs at a young age to help out at home. About 1/4 of afghan kids have to work to help their family survive poverty. For young girls this involves weaving, embroidering, picking up rubbish or even begging for money instead of going to school.                                                                                                                                  Despite the afghan law stating that education is compulsory till 14 – for both boys and girls, many children don’t make it to this age level and in reality don’t have access to this amount of education.                                                 Although some families want their daughters to stay home, many families still fight desperately for their daughters education. Despite all this funding from American sources, Afghanistan was still ranked the fourth worst place in the world for females to get education, in 2017. With the help of UNICEF, more books have been printed, teacher have been trained and more education centres are being set up so children in rural areas are able to get a good education. This goes to show that there is good progress being made every day but there is still a long way to go in order to get afghan girls in school.

In conclusion, Afghani women live a life ridden with sexism, being held back by pressures and expectations forced on them. Sadly this is an issue that must be eroded over time, there is no quick fix. wether you consider it to be or not, sexism is a big issue affecting many countries.  Thanks

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