Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Its ok to beat children in our culture.....

Today while getting out of my house to come to work, i noticed a middle aged man around 50 or so beating a boy of around 10 or 12 yrs so hardly that the boy was shouting so hard. I looked around and found plenty of people busy in their own work who didnt even notice the voice of the child. A gardener was cutting some plants and was lost in this own world on how to increase his earnings so that he could lease a house next time because he cant pay this rent anymore. Just near to him there were a couple of laborers digging the ground to the cable tv wires could be triggered to homes and the cable tv man was standing just above their heads make sure that they finish the work soon so that families can start getting the cable tv and pay their advances and dues. On the other corner, there were a couple of quiet elderly men with long while beards discussing an issue with each other as if it was a decision about the next president of Afghanistan and they too never noticed or maybe didnt want to notice the voice of the poor boy being beaten so harshly. Just in a kilometer distance, saw a woman hanging clothes on the metal fence near her terrace and while looking at her face , i understood that she felt the pain of that little boy but didnt say anything. In Afghanistan women are expected to not apear in public or engage in discussions in public, some argue that its not Islamic that a woman's voice is heard by men because men will be tempted and attracted by her. Well...whose problem is that?
So coming back to the boy's misery, i couldnt see it being silent anymore so i went near to the man and asked that please dont beat this little boy so harshly , if he has done something wrong, he can talk to him in peace and i am sure he wont do it again. He looked at me furiously and asked " what is he to you"? Speechless for a second but immediately said that " Kaka jaan...i cant see a child being beaten so hard and saying nothing"...i took some breath as i was about to cry seeing the little boy in pain...and continued " We are all muslims and we believe that we should be kind to children and advice them with love and affection...this little boy cant bear such a harsh treatment"...he shouted..." get lost! who are u to tell me what is right and wrong.First you correct your own behavior and then teach me, why do u get out of home in this morning while islam doesnt like a woman going outside alone and look at your chador, u dont have enough hejab...and you are teaching me how to be a good muslim and behave with my own son"....he was so loud that almost everyone in that area heard what he said to me and i perferred to keep quiet rather than arguing with that man because i felt the pain in his voice as well...i dont know why men are expected in this society to pretend that they are strong and have no emotions...if i continued to argue with him for another second..i bet that he would have started crying.
So i abondoned and came towards my car that suddenly heard the three elderly men who were so busy in their hot topic discussion telling me that " it is important to beat children so that we can keep them in our control and make them diciplined...its part of our culture that children should listen and obey elders and if they dont , we should punish them and set them examples for the rest of the soceity" ....hearing all this, i got on the car and on the whole way thought about the last sentences of these elderly men. Is it part of our culture to be brutal to small kids?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Increased Child rapes in Afghanistan

In the past 6 or so months the media outlets in the country are constantly reporting about the various cases of child rapes in different parts of Afghanistan. More than anything else, the current debate among the elites of civil society is whether these cases have increased recently or whether the media is able to report and reflect them much more than ever. However, i dont think that is the main question to address the current dillemma in the country, because the dilemma is so serious on the innocent souls that needs immediate actions now or never. No matter if it existed in Afghan life and Afghan society or not, the reality is that at least one case of child rape in reported in media in a day.
For alot of " social rights activists" its another important issue and thankfully they are able to raise their voices on the issue no matter how conservative and closed this society is. With plenty of fear, some of the cases are brought forward in the media and the activists and other important players do condemn it. However, its another reality that nothing else has been done apart from condemning.
As many argue that we need to address the issue strategically rather than immediate actions so that we dont create more harm particularly to children than the current crisis. I partly agree having seen the rapid approaches of international development that has almost failed in afghanistan. But on the other hand, we also need to see how can a strategic move that might happen in two or more years help a child who is raped in this month by 9 men and doesnt know where to go and what to do. She might be killed by her parents or other family members in the near future or sooner. What we have seen so far in this country is that rather than the perpetrator, its the victim who has to be prosecuted and questioned and tortured because the victime is weak and the perpetrator is strong enough to defend himself in any court.
One of the main questions is that how and why such issues as child rapes and child sexual abuse is happening in a country like Afghanistan where its almost 99.9 % muslims and Islam strongly dissaproves any kind of violence or torture of another human being and is particularly in favor or kindness for children. Another question is that how can such issues as child rapes and child sexual abuse happen in a country like Afghanistan where almost 85 % of the population are rural and tribally based and in which elders have the utlimate say in everything regarding everyon's life. Why is it that in presence of elders , our children arent safe?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Can we replace the " Committment"

After coming back to Afghanistan in 2001, one of the terms that i terribly hate and have to encounter every second is " Committment" or " Tahud" in my beautiful farsi. I wont go back to introducing Afghanistan's war torn history and 30 years of violence and etc but ofcourse that can not be ignored if we want to understand what really committment means in Afghanistan and for Afghans. As i am in the women's rights and gender and development field for the past ten years, and when i came to Afghanistan i was more drawn towards the issues of women's rights than ever due to the wrong approaches towards implementing gender equality in Afghanistan. Since then i have been hearing this term " committment" every second and still we arent able to gauge it nor by Afghans neither by its international allies. The government of afghanistan announces its slogan of " committment" every other night on the national tv, and in every other conference that people only attend because of its food at the Intercon or the Serena or the Safi landmark.
For the past few month, i and a number of " committed" women are working on an advocacy initiative for prevention of child sexual abuse and child rapes that has been increasingly coming out of the media coverage. In relation to our advocacy campaigns, we had a number of meetings with very high official government figures, and again all of them announced their " commitment" towards supporting us, however not a single perpetrator is brought to justice.
I wonder what tahud or commitment means for alot of us Afghans and what it should really mean in such a condition that we are living in, maybe this hypocracy of deceiving has alot to do with our nature of denial, as most of us deny that such issues as child rapes doesnt exist in this society which is traditional, conservative and religious. Maybe that is the exact reasons!!!