Afghanistan: Women in parliament receive threats – from fellow lawmakers

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It takes a lot to rattle Shukria Barakzai, a staunch defender of women's rights and one of more than 20 very outspoken women members of parliament in Afghanistan.


But even though she’s run two successful parliamentary campaigns and has taken on conservative members of Afghan society, she is shocked by how easily some male members of parliament are now publicly threatening their female counterparts in the middle of parliamentary meetings. 

“A [male] member of parliament stood up in our general meeting yesterday and said parliament is not a place for women, your time is up here, you must not pursue this fight for women’s rights,” says Ms. Barakzai.

For many of the Afghan women leaders, dealing with sexism and discrimination isn’t anything new. But women's rights activists say that male parliamentarians have recently intensified a war of words inside parliament. It’s a war that many Afghan women worry echoes a greater issue in society and could reverse public tolerance and support for women’s rights. 

Written By: Halima Kazem
continue to source article at csmonitor.com

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  1. What options do we have to help here? This is the last opportunity we may get in a long time to prevent any further back-slip in the conditions and prospects for women in Afghanistan. Though recently improving, I’m not sure they got back up to the level of the late nineties when women had their strongest advocate in Shah Ahmad Massoud and a true promise of equality.

    There needs to be strong international support, far more internal money allocated to women’s programs and education and some decent high level male politicians championing the cause

  2. Islamic men claim that women “want too many equal rights” ??? Huh…clearly missing the point of Equality, The Afghan parliament should enforce fines or bans on male MP’s who verbally abuse women MP’s or who repress the equal rights already gained for women….and decent Afghan men need to stand up for women….How else can they fight for equal rights….I thought of a support slogan…..
    Fly some kites for Womens rights in Afghanistan ?

  3. The problem with Afghanistan is that everyone with any power so far has tried to influence it – mainly via military intervention – The British Empire tried, then the Soviets, and lately US forces etc – all have mainly failed due to a heavy handed approach. A society can only ever truly change itself from within, so the best thing we can do is give support and help to the elements within which match the required outcome. Most reasonable people think that women deserve equal rights to men, so the best way to enforce such a view in Afghanistan is, in my opinion, to offer them some benefits if they reform – not threaten to punish if they don’t. Like my Great Gran used to say -”Carrot and stick – but easy on the stick”.

    • In reply to #3 by TanyaK:

      Most reasonable people think that women deserve equal rights to men, so the best way to enforce such a view in Afghanistan is, in my opinion, to offer them some benefits if they reform – not threaten to punish if they don’t. Like my Great Gran used to say -”Carrot and stick – but easy on the stick”.

      The problem is that many/most men in Afghanistan view ‘equality for women’ as a stick – something terrible and horrible that the west is forcing on them, and which must be avoided at all costs because it will destroy thier culture. (And they’re kinda right about that last one.) What possible carrot could we offer tem to make up for that?

  4. As long as Islam governs that country, no amount of external input, be it in a form of military power, international support or democracy, will ever make any difference. I am quite pessimistic about women’s prospects, or indeed, general human rights prospects in that country in the future.

  5. more assholes with power. If I ever run for any office (yeah right)… my slogan is gonna be something like “hey, that other guy is a big asshole.” or “At least I am not as big an asshole as my opponent”….

    I am tired of assholes with power.

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