On the Ground in Afghanistan: Challenges of Female Journalists

Challenges of Women Journalists in Afghanistan

By Khamosh in Afghanistan (Sept., 16 2018)

Helai Asad works hard for her community and especially for women’s rights in an insecure section of Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan.

She is a teenage journalist working as a reporter with Kalid Radio. And she says her job gives her the energy she needs to tolerate the many challenges she, and other female journalists, face every day. 

“But I need support because we need to build our capacity and I call on the Afghan government to provide security facilities for us.”

The population of every society is a combination of male and female, and both should have equal rights in society because both of them live in the same society and work for the same society. If men can work as journalists so should women have the same rights to work in media. Afghanistan is one of the most backward countries in the word. Here, people don’t know about their rights and fundamentalists are strongly against women rights. They are also against the rights of journalist women.

During the Taliban Regime there was no independent media in Afghanistan. Women were not allowed to work in government media. After the Taliban’s Regime, women were able to find the chance to go and work in the journalism field. Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist, and, unfortunately,  female journalists are faced with more violence than men. 

Dr. Leena Gharzai. a women’s rights’ activist, said that while progress has been slow at times, the last 17 years have witnessed immense gains for Afghan women, whom the Taliban relegated to their homes and prevented from obtaining an education during their rule in late ’90s and through most of 2001.

“We want Afghan women to become role models through political participation,” she said. “When they do that, they compete and succeed, often more than men in their chosen professions. But security problems, sexism, and not enough facilities are big challenges for female journalists in Afghanistan.”

Helai Asad agrees, saying, although girls have lately evinced a keen interest in working in the media sector, lack of facilities, economic problems and insecurity were some of the handicaps they encountered.

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Helai Asad

Helai is faced with multiple problems. On one side is the Taliban and ISIS and on the other side are fundamentalists threatening lives.  Social pressure is another key issue highlighted almost universally among the journalists.

Perhaps stories like Helai’s, and other journalists, both old and new, will be a catalyst to inspire change and address these serious challenges. Afghan women journalists deserve much better. More power to them!


A Look At Human Trafficking In Afghanistan

By Khamosh in Afghanistan (Aug. 23, 2018)

In recent years, due to economic weakness, security problems and lack of Afghan family awareness about human trafficking, the trafficking rate has become very high and is common in many provinces of Afghanistan.

Human trafficking —  a new form of slavery in modern times — has become an illegal business and a source of income for a number of smugglers inside the country and abroad.

“Afghanistan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of Afghan trafficking victims are children who end up in carpet making and brick factories, domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, begging, transnational drug smuggling, and assistant truck driving within Afghanistan,” states the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative: Afghanistan of the United States Department of State. 

Most children trafficked outside the Afghan border for security purposes were from Samangan, Kunar, Badghis, Farah, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Paktika, Nangarhar, Nuristan provinces.

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Sima Samar, chairwoman of the Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission, also said in one of her statements that, “One of the most serious problems in Afghanistan is the trafficking in human beings, and no work has been done in this regard. We want the Afghan government to address this issue”.

Trafficking in human beings in Afghanistan has not yet been criminalized as a crime by the Commission for the Minimum Trafficking in Persons in Afghanistan.

One year after Afghanistan strengthened human trafficking laws to prohibit the use of boys for sexual entertainment, there is little enforcement and trafficking is on the rise. “Bacha bazi” – in which young boys are abducted by commanders who force them to dance and sexually abuse them – was explicitly prohibited for the first time in the updated anti-trafficking and smuggling law, enacted in January, 2017.This was significant because cultural taboos discourage open discussion of bacha bazi.

Some smuggler bands are actively working on the young generation to motivate them to leave the country. In the last few years, more than 100,000 people have left the country and gone abroad. Some of them have died in the seas, some of them are shot by the  Border Police, and those who reached Europe also faced many problems there. Some of them have been deported from many  foreign countries back to Afghanistan. They spent their money and now they are living in a bad situation.

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High insecurity is also a reason why some people are leaving their country or their houses because they are not feeling safe.

According to the 2012 Human Right Watch report, a startling number of imprisoned women were found to have been coerced into the sex industry by their own families. Fueled by the thirst for drugs or inescapable indigence, it is often the women’s own in-laws or even the husbands who auction them off. These findings are hardly surprising when accompanied by the statistic stating that more than 58 percent of the trafficked person’s families reportedly lack a source of income. (https://afghanistantoday.weebly.com/sex-trafficking.html).

Malalai Joya

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Malalai Joya is a famous Afghan political woman, born April 25, 1978, the eldest daughter of a large and educated family in Farah province of Afghanistan. She has seven sisters and three brothers. Her father gave up his career to fight in the Afghan Civil war. He was injured and lost part of his leg. As the situation in Afghanistan became more and more dangerous, he left the country with his family and went to Iran, than Pakistan.

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Malalai Joya

Joya is an activist, writer and former politician of Afghanistan. She started work as activist when she was very young, in Grade Eight. She served as a parliamentarian in the national assembly of Afghanistan from 2005 until early 2007, but in May 21, 2007 she was suspended from parliament. Joya had recently compared the members of the Wolasi Jirga (parliament) to a “stable or zoo” in an interview with Afghanistan’s Tolo TV. The video of the interview was shown to the members of the Wolesi Jirga, and they voted by a clear majority that Joya had broken Article 70, and disrespected her fellow Wolesi Jirga members. They suspended her for the rest of her term.

Her suspension has generated protests nationally, and internationally appeals for her reinstatement have been signed by well-known activists and politicians including members of parliaments from Canada, Germany, The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and some organizations.

Joya became famous by speaking out publicly, as an elected delegate to the Constitutional Loya Jirga, against the domination of warlords. For the first time Malalai Joya said Mujahedeen Leaders are criminals and warlords. Joya has not only been openly critical of Afghanistan’s government, especially its elected Mujahedeen members, but the United States as well.

She believes that, “US and NATO forces kill more Afghan civilians than the enemies of Afghan people do. Thousands of innocent Afghan women and children have been killed in the US/NATO operations”.

In 2016 Joya took a trip to Nangarhar province and she met with human rights’ defenders and women’s rights defenders, so I also able to meet with her. We talked about human rights’ conditions in Nangarhar. In general, she told me that, “My suffering people have been well and truly betrayed over the past 16 years by the US and allies. They were invaded and bombed in the name of democracy, human rights and women’s rights”.  

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Malalai Joya

That was the first time I met her and I was surprised. She is such a brave woman and always thinking about her nation. She believes that only Afghan people can change the current situation and bring the happiness for themselves. She has many fans in Afghanistan and around the world.

Joya was called “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” by the BBC. In 2010, Time Magazine placed Malalai Joya on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Foreign Policy Magazine listed Malalai Joya in its annual list of the top 100 Global thinkers. In 2011, the Guardian listed her among the top 100 women  activists and campaigners.


Afghan Women and Violence

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Selling of Women in Afghanistan:  one of the worst types of violence

Violence against women is common in Afghanistan and it happens in every corner of the country — beating of women; announcing at the birth of a girl who she will marry; and not calling women by their names because they think it is shame to do so. 

But selling of women is one of the worst types of violence, which mostly happens in the shinwari district of Nangarhar. Women are sold by their husbands, sons and fathers with their children or without their children. Nowadays, they don’t have a specific place for the sale women (which is called Mandi), so they sell their women in some houses or make deals between two men, and then, without the woman being aware, they give the sold woman to the other person. 

Zar Babo is a widowed woman who currently lives in Nangarhar city. She said that her husband sold her other wife, whose name is Patina, and he had a plan to sale her also, but with the help and support of her parents’ family, she was able to get a divorce from him and move to Jalalabad city.

“Twenty-five years ago I married my husband. He had another wife also so one day he said to  his other wife, by the name of Patina, let’s go to Ziarat (a holy place for some people). So she took her children moved with her husband, but we did not know that he already sold Patina with her kids. When I understood that he sold her, I immediately called my parents and my parents took me here.”

Another old woman by the name of Sanga, who is her neighbor, says, “I do not even have a male child. Then I got married to my husband which made a lot of problems to me later and after so much cruelty he tried to sell me, but I ran away from his home and now I live here Jalalabad. But I am so afraid that he will find me here and maybe he will kill me or sell me, but I cannot afford things.”

This is traditional culture in shinwari — when women get a bit older, men sell them and the men are proud of this action.

Human right defenders are working in secure areas, but they are not able to go to the unsecure places to document this kind of violence by evidence. There is a lack of opportunities and many challenges working for human and, especially, women’s rights. When human rights’ workers fight for women’s rights the people who are against the women rights call them infidels and try to kill them.


Violence Against Women: The story of a 19-year old woman (due to security risk we cannot mention her name):

My mother and father are dead. My eldest brother was taking care of me. When I was 19 years old he wanted me to get married to an old man who was 50 years old. I told him that I did not want to marry now and especially not with an old man, but he did not listen to me. vaw in afghan 3In my absence and without my consent, he arranged a marriage with that old man.

During Nikah, the woman is asked if she agrees to the marriage or not, but in my case, no one came to me and no one asked me if I agreed to the marriage or not.

After the marriage, my brother sent me my husband’s house. I was very afraid and did not know what to do and how to start my new life. I had no plan and was not ready for this. I was there with him for five days but I did not let him touch me. He wanted to get close to me and so he started beating and threatening me.

This is just one of many similar stories found across Afghanistan.

Gender-based violence is a global issue which happens in every country in the world. But the intensity of violence is different in each country and for that, there are many reasons. Developing countries are divided into three categories. 

Developed Countries: A country with a lot of industrial activity and where people generally have high incomes. The rate of violence against women in these countries is lower. 

Developing Countries: A country with little industrial and economic activity and where people generally have low incomes. The rate of violence against women is higher than in Developed Countries and lower than in least-developed countries.

Least Developed Countries:  A country that does not have a lot of industrial activity and where people have low or no incomes. Residents of these countries are not aware of their rights, especially women. This leads to higher rates vaw in afghan 2of violence. Afghanistan is one of these countries — and the violence is very high, Women experience violence in many ways, from physical abuse to sexual assault and from financial abuse to sexual harassment or trafficking. Whatever form it takes, violence against women can have serious long-term physical and emotional effects.

In many parts of Afghanistan, like in the eastern region, women face many different forms of violence – violent extremism, poverty, illiteracy and inequality. There is a growing recognition by the government and international community that efforts to eliminate violence against women must involve not only government, but every individual, by acting and speaking out against violence in homes, workplaces and social settings. Afghanistan has one of the lowest female literacy rates in the world and access to education for young girls continues to be limited, perpetuating these low rates of illiteracy.vaw in afghan 1 Afghan women don’t know about their rights, so this limits their ability to obtain them. Men think women are their property and women are not allowed to do anything without their permission. Women can’t go outside without their elder’s (Father, Brother, Husband) permission. Even if they are sick they cannot go to a doctor. Most families do not let their daughters go to school after Class Six. Women are not able to select their life partner — their parents select their life partner for them. Often when they get Educating a girl is like educating the whole society and one of the famous quotes of Malala about education is that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the fate of the whole world”.married they are faced with a lot of violence.

We hope that the current situation will change as soon as possible, and women will have equal rights to men.


The CHALLENGES of EDUCATING GIRLS in AFGHANISTAN

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Educating a girl is like educating the whole society and one of the famous quotes of Malala about education is that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the fate of the whole world”.

After decades of war and conflict in Afghanistan, the hope to live in peace is the top priority of our nation. It not only affects our country’s economic growth and prosperity, but also leaves a long-lasting spot in the life of the people.

Despite the more than 17 years and billions of dollars in foreign assistance provided to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, the international community’s efforts to help create a stable, democratic Afghanistan are in jeopardy. State security, governance, and justice institutions are unable to provide even basic services to much of the population. Sophisticated organized criminal networks, a culture of impunity for powerful commanders, and a growing Taliban insurgency combine to create an insecure environment, which in turn threatens to derail the country’s nascent experiment with constitutional democracy. As it did in the mid-1990s following Afghanistan’s brutal civil war, the Taliban has capitalized on the lack of good governance, justice, and security in many parts of the country by offering an alternative—albeit harsh—system to provide law and order.

The only important thing that will bring the Afghan nation from this darkness as to provide equal opportunity to both males and females in education. Unfortunately, the local customs and norms in many ethnic groups of the country do not allow their children to get an education, especially girls. The international communities are working hard in this regard in order to change the view of the people and to spread social awareness in societies and to show them the importance of education. The following are some the most prominent barriers in the way of girls receiving education.

  • Education is one of the basic fundamental human rights and, according to international law, primary education should be free to each individual in society. It is opposite here in our country. There are a lot of costs associated with sending children to school. The cost of uniforms, textbooks or bus fare can be too much to bear for a family living in poverty. Too often, parents choose to keep their girls at home and send the boys to school instead.
  • Girls may face various forms of violence at the hands of teachers, peers and other people in the school environment. Due to this, and the aforementioned problems, parents don’t allow their daughters to go to school.
  • In many parts of our country, the distance to the school is one of the key issues, especially for girls. The nearest primary school to a particular community might be a four or five hour-long walk away. On top of that, girls may face dangers or violence on the long way to school; so many parents opt to keep their daughters at home and out of harm’s way.
  • Poverty: the key issue in developing countries, people do not have access to food, clean water, shelter, and primary treatment. This is a big concern to all the parents. If they cannot feed their children to keep them healthy and sound, how can they will afford to send them to school?
  • Threats from the Taliban and other insurgent groups are one of the main reasons for the deprivation of girls from education. Parents are scared even to allow their sons to go to school in those areas where the Taliban are in power.
  • Due to local customs and norms, girls are often asked to live in the premises of the house and take care of their younger siblings and help their mothers cook and clean. Due to this, girls may not have the opportunity to attend school because their contributions to the household are valued more than their personal education.
  • The main problem in our society is that girls are forced to marry young. They are often pulled out of school at a very critical age in their development. Education is very important for girls to gain the life skills they need to escape the cycle of poverty. But they are deprived from secondary education because of the problems parents face and because do not understand how to raise their children well.

afghan girls' education photoThe aforementioned issues are the salient features in the way of getting education for girls in Afghanistan. Educating a girl is like educating the whole society and one of the famous quotes of Malala about education is that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the fate of the whole world”. More work and focus is needed in order to get rid of these challenges.


Nangarhar Schools and Universities Face Security Threats

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Nangarhar, in the east of Afghanistan with 22 districts, has one of the highest populations of any province in the country. The new generation of this province is thirsty to get an education and they hope to have a good future. They hope that some of them will become doctors; some want to become engineers, teachers, social workers etc.

But the enemies of this nation do not want their dreams to become real. Nearly all the armed groups have warned all schools, institutes and universities that they should close their doors. If  any of them stay open, they say they will attack them. That is a big challenge for the education department. If they close their doors, it will be a tragedy for society and the nation.

During the recent annual exams in Nangarhar schools, due to security threats, they not able to get the final subject exams to students.education violence 1 And a few days later on 11 June 2018 ISIS attacked the Directorate of Education in Jalalabad. More than 10 people were injured in this attack, but security forces were able to kill all the attackers. One of the attackers blew himself up and two were shot dead by security forces. The attackers’ explosives-laden corolla was defused and security forces confiscated heavy and light weapons as well.

One month later on 11 July 2018 an armed group attacked the Department of Education in Jalalabad and at least 13 civilians were killed.

In the July attack on, most of the Education Department’s offices were burned, and an elderly man was shot and killed near an exterior wall, apparently while trying to flee. An employee whose body was soaked in blood still had a pen in one hand.

education violence 2At least two employees were rescued by security forces.

“I was preparing the attendance when the shooting started,” said one, Afsar Khan. “I hid behind a desk and God saved me. They kept firing, and our staff kept crying and screaming.”

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The private universities and institutes are also faced with high threats. Some days they open the universities and some days they are closed. All our people clearly feel this threat but they still go to school and university because they know that without education they will not have a good and bright future. It should be the government’s job to secure the educational environment.  


Dramatic Election in Afghanistan (July 3, 2018)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a country of uncountable problems; people do not have information about their basic rights.

It is now trying democracy, but the role of democracy is new. Some people do not find it acceptable because they are not educated and actually do not know the main meaning of democracy.

One of the most important objectives of democracy is the election, by which people can select their leaders. The last presidential election was held in Afghanistan on April 5, 2014, and it was hoped the Afghan people would select a good president for the country; and have a good parliament and provincial councils.

But everything went wrong. 

Incumbent president Hamid Karzai was not eligible to run due to term limits. An initial field of 27 candidates was whittled down to eight with front runners Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Fraud allegations tainting the final result resulted in a recount of votes at 1,900 of the 23,000 polling stations. Ghani was eventually declared the winner in September, 2014. People had high hopes but  it did not work out.

Many people who voted had their fingers cut by the Taliban and it attacked some polling stations. Finally John Kerry (United States Secretary of State at the time) helped select the president. After that people knew their vote didn’t have any value and felt hopeless for the role of democracy and elections.

Soon there will be parliamentary and districts elections. The population of Afghanistan is approximately 33 million, but less than four million people have registered to vote, showing people do not trust election.

First of all,  we need to work for accountability and transparency. Then we can have clean and transparent elections. Now our people believe the Commission of Elections is not independent. They think some members of that commission have been hired by Dr. Abdulla Abdulla and some others hired by Ashraf Ghani, People think the election in Afghanistan is just a drama and nothing more than that.

Afghan Security forces have assured the country that they will carry out operations in insecure areas, but not government-controlled areas, to ensure security for people during the voter registration and voting stages of the election. Still, most people believe that security forces will not be able to keep security on voting day and armed groups will attack the voting stations. Security is necessary for transparent elections.

Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections have been repeatedly pushed back due to security fear and logistical challenges. Afghanistan’s election authorities have now set this coming Oct. 20 as the date for the long-delayed legislative (parliamentary) and district council elections.


Peace in Afghanistan? (June 19, 2018)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

After decades of war and bloodshed, Afghanistan has witnessed an unprecedented ceasefire by the two sides of the war.

A few days ago, the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, announced that from the 27th Ramadan to 5th Eid the Security Forces will not attack the Afghan Taliban. And some days later, the Taliban also announced that for three days of Eid, it will not attack Afghan forces. The militants said foreign forces would be excluded from the ceasefire and that operations against them would continue. They also said they would defend themselves against any attack.

Many Afghan people are very happy about this decision of both sides and they hope that this decision will be a chance for permanent peace. They hope that the pleasure of shedding no Afghan blood during Eid becomes so overwhelming that the rest of the year is also declared as Afghan Eid.

Eid is the biggest festival of Muslims when families visit each other’s homes, enjoy feasting and, in Afghanistan, tend graves of fallen loved ones. The Taliban have launched attacks during Eid in the past.

More than 22 armed groups are active currently. ISIS is growing day by day.

But the main point is that just three days of ceasefire is not the solution to the current situation and in Afghanistan it is not just the Taliban who are active. More than 22 armed groups are active currently. ISIS is growing day by day. 

They threaten our people’s lives. Recently they gave a warning to all the school in Nangahar Province — so we should not have hopes of peace from them.

Before that, people were happy to see the arrival (after 20 years in exile) of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar (an Afghan politician and former warload) in Kabul, thinking that the security situation would improve with his presence. However, it has gotten worse. Now some people believe it is in the hands of America. If America wanted to bring security to Afghanistan, it could bring it in one day. But it is benefiting from the current situation and does not want security here.

The reasons why we don’t have hope for peace soon: 

  1. The armed groups are from other countries and are supported by other countries. They cannot make their own decisions.
  2. There is no strong democratic party here that people can gather around and a lot of people doubt political parties because they have bad memories of them from the past.
  3. The current Afghan government is also corrupt. If we have a lot of corruption in out government, how can we bring peace to our society?
  4. Poverty is anther reason for insecurity: when people cannot find work, they join armed groups.  

The Beauty of Nuristan (June 2, 2018)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

“Women often spend whole days chopping timber and loading it into giant baskets. Each woman will carry between 40 and 60 kilograms of wood home . . . “

Nuristan is a one of the eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Throughout history, it has been known by different names – Kafirstan and Bloristan. For about one century, Nuristan province was non-Muslim but after Amir Abdul Rahman Khan Pacha of Afghanistan, the inhabitants of this area overlapped Islam and became Muslims.

The Nuristan Province is divided into eight administrative units with its capital known as Parun, while Wama, Kamdish, Bargi Matal, Du Ab, Nurgram, Want Waygal and Mandol are its districts. Geographically, the province is a mountainous region with many jungles, and large green trees. There are many green valleys, with water flowing from the mountains.

The language of Nuristan is also different from other Afghans; they speak Nusitani, which is a language that is a little difficult to learn quickly. 

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The province has less land for agricultural purposes because most of its land is occupied by forests, maple, deodar, walnut and other dry fruit trees. In the western parts of Nuristan toward Nuagram district, people are mainly associated with livestock and orchards’ professions.

The women of Nuristan are stronger. It is the custom in Nuristan that women do the farming, look after the animals, bring wood from the mountains, and even, when someone builds a house, the women bring the stones, bricks, and soil. Women often spend whole days chopping timber and loading it into giant baskets. Each woman will carry between 40 and 60 kilograms of wood home, sometimes with disastrous results.

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The culture of Nuristan is deeply different from the culture of rest of the provinces.
Most of the people associate with the profession of livestock. Their houses are made of wood with two windows in the two sides of the walls and more than one family can live in one room.

When they want to get married, the father of girl takes many cows or goats from the groom and after that they get married. If the groom does not give them the goats or cows, he can’t get married.

There are not enough facilities of Education and Health; there are no professional teachers and doctors.

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Traditional sports are popular in Nuristan Province. A game known as Teer Kaman is usually played by the people in the spring season. Throwing stones is also common.  

March 8, 2018 Celebration Ceremony in Nuristan Province


The Children of Nangarhar (May 21, 2018)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Children are a power linked with the future of society. If a society invests in its children they will  have a bright future. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan everything is different. Children don’t have any value or purpose, and sometimes this turns into destruction, and other wrong activities. So people use this to say children are foolish or rude.

Of course the main reason is poverty. Their parents are not able to provide an education for them. There are lots of innocent children who have undertaken feeding their family members in Nangarhar (a province in the North Eastern part of Afghanistan), and cannot achieve education for a bright future. Some other innocent children are working as laborers to get the daily necessities of life.

The children who do go to school are faced with a lot of problems. There are no buildings, no chairs, and not enough books in the schools. That is another reason they are not interested in learning. One other big problem in our society is that most people are sexist. Most people deter their daughters from education as that is a traditional issue. Because of that we have much fewer educated girls, especially in Pashtun places.

The Government of Afghanistan also does not have any clear plan for the future of Afghan children. Life is hopeless for every one.

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Naveed is a child who should go to school, but poverty will not allow him to do so. All day he shines people’s shoes to gain some money for his family.

The Surkh Rod District of Nangarhar has more than 100 brick factories, employing mostly poor families who take loans from factory owners and then struggle for years — sometimes generations — to pay off their debt. Often entire families, including children, are forced to work to pay off these loans. As a result the children are taken out of school. 

“They come from morning to evening and work as laborers to pay their debts.”

child brick workers


The Current Situation of Nangarhar Residents

(May 16, 2018)

“We are humans like other people of the world.  We also want to live free like others. We also want our children to go to schools and universities and get an education, but still we are not allowed to live like that.”

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Nangarhar is one of the provinces of Afghanistan that is located in the Eastern part of the country. This province has 22 districts and administratively it is divided into 23 parts. All the districts’ administration and sub-governors are controlled by the governor of the province. The province shares a border with Laghman, Khost and Konar provinces of Afghanistan. The province also shares an international border with Pakistan.

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Kabul to Nanganhar Highway

“This has become our lives. We keep trying to live like normal people, but the violence is driving us all mad.” 

Nanganhar has an estimated population of 3 million people. Most of these people live in rural areas and only a small portion of these people live in Jalalabad, the capital of the province. The people living in this province belong to Pashtoon, Pashai, Arab, Tajik and other small groups. Although a lot of people speak the Pashtoon language as their mother tongue, most of the people living in this province and particularly in Jalalabad city speak Dari.

bah photo 3Most are busy in farming, animal husbandry, chicken farming and fish farms. But the current situation is worse for the residents of Nangarhar because no one is secure here, even farmers and laborers. Many armed groups are active here and they are killing people using subterfuge. Our people do not like this situation, but we can’t release ourselves from these things because the armed groups are so strong and they are supported by foreign countries.

In April of 2017, the then newly elected US President, Donald Trump, dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever made, known as the MOAB or “Mother of All Bombs”, on Achin district, angering Afghans across the globe and decimating portions of a small village in the Asad Khel area.

 This has meant residents of Nangarhar province, including the capital of Jalalabad, experience constant violence and attacks from all sides. 

“This has become our lives. We keep trying to live like normal people, but the violence is driving us all mad.” 

The other big problem is the corruption in many government and non-government organizations. Educated people can’t find jobs. They are getting hopeless because of their life and, after some time, some are joining the armed groups and making problems for  other people .

We are humans like other people of the world. We also want to live free like others. We also want our children to go to schools and universities and get an education — but still we are not allowed to live like that.

I hope that one day everything change will change in our area and we will live free and we will  be able to access  basic human rights like other people of the world.

 


HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN, PART 1 

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A school without  walls in Nanaghar Province, Afghanistan

“From 2001 to 2016 there have been some achievements for Human Rights. But, still, we are faced with a lot of problems.”

By  Khamosh in Afghanistan

Human rights are moral principles or norms, which describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights “to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being,” and which are “inherent in all human beings” regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone.

Afghanistan (which literally means Land of Afghans) is a Hmountainous, land-locked country located in south-central Asia. The region has a history and culture that dates back over 5,000 years, although it was only in 1747 that Ahmad Shah Durrani united the various tribes and founded what is currently known as Afghanistan.

Mujahedeen and Taliban:

The Mujahedeen was a dark period for Afghanistan. In this period human rights were violated. Women and children were raped. Then after the Mujahedeen, the Taliban attacked Afghanistan and they changed Afghanistan into a cemetery. They did not care about human rights and specifically women’s rights. They beat women when they saw them alone in the city or outside of their houses. Girls were not allowed to go school. Some girls were killed by the Taliban in their five years of government.

Post Taliban:

The Bonn Agreement of 2001 established the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) as a national human rights institution to protect and promote human rights and to investigate human rights’ abuses and war crimes. The Afghanistan Constitution of 2004 entrenched the existence of the AIHRC. While the ongoing turmoil, violence and reconstruction efforts often make it difficult to get an accurate sense of what is going on, various reports from NGOs have accused various branches of the Afghan government of engaging in human rights’ violations. There have also been various human rights abuses by American soldiers on Afghan civilians, most notably in the Baghram prisons where innocent civilians endured torture, humiliating conditions, and inhumane treatment. The United States was heavily criticized for lenient sentencing for the soldiers responsible. Former Afghan warlords and political strongmen supported by the US during the ousting of the Taliban were responsible for numerous human rights’ violations in 2003, including kidnapping, rape, robbery, and extortion.

From 2001 to 2016 there have been some achievements for human rights. But still we are faced with a lot of problems. For example: in rural parts of country, girls can’t go to school,  and we are not able to solve this problem. Not all Afghan people are able to use the justice system; we don’t have enough health centres, especially for women. Girls can’t get a “love” marriage. Acid is thrown on girl’s faces and a lot of other crimes happen against humans in Afghanistan. The main reason for violations of human rights is Fundamentalism. 

Below, Afghan students sit in a yard in a village in Nangarhar Province, as there is no building for classes, and no stationary or white boards. When it rains they stay in a room without doors or windows. 


Human Rights in Afghanistan, Part 2: What It Means To Be A Human Rights’ Defender (Jan. 27, 2017)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Human rights’ defenders seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights, as well as the promotion, protection and realization of economic, social and cultural rights. “Human rights’ defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights.

To be a human rights’ defender, a person can act to address any human right on behalf of individuals or groups. Human rights’ defenders address any human rights’ concerns, which can be as varied as, for example, summary executions, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, female genital mutilation, discrimination, employment issues, forced evictions, access to health care, and toxic waste and its impact on the environment.

Defenders are active in support of human rights as diverse as the rights to life, to food and water, to the highest attainable standard of health, to adequate housing, to a name and a nationality, to education, to freedom of movement and to non-discrimination.

The upsurge in violence in Afghanistan has had devastating consequences for civilians, with suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and targeted attacks by the Taliban and other insurgents causing 70% of all civilian casualties. The number of civilians killed during government military operations increased as well. The number of internally displaced people nearly reached 2.5 million in 2016.

While the government affirmed its commitment to human rights, it failed to address violations of women’s rights and attacks on journalists.

Another example: School officials managed to get Kabul authorities to write a letter ordering the military forces to leave a school site, but the commander ignored the order. When the students needed to take exams, school officials again presented the letter to the commander. Officers fired their guns in the direction of the assembled teachers and students. Schools should be safe places, even in the midst of conflict. The use of schools by military forces may run contrary to the global Safe Schools Declaration, the political commitment endorsed by Afghanistan in 2016.

At the recent October 5th Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, donors agreed to provide US$15.2 billion in aid to Afghanistan to be used over the next four years. This aid is desperately needed in a country with deteriorating security conditions and a fragile economy. A record number of Afghans are fleeing to Europe, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been sent back from Pakistan, Iran, and Europe.

Finally, the actions taken by human rights’ defenders must be peaceful in order to comply with the Declaration on Human Rights’ Defenders.

All together in defense of human rights!Hu

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