Friday, January 7, 2011

Afghan Government Plans Extravagant Wedding Ban!

Since U.S.-backed Afghan forces ousted the strict Islamist Taliban in 2001, Afghans have revived the tradition of holding big weddings, costing thousands of dollars, in a country where the average annual income is less than $400.Afghan weddings are celebrated by hundreds of guests in luxurious wedding halls with the groom and his family expected to foot the bill and agree to every request of the bride and her family.
"Wedding ceremonies among people are like a competition, no one wants to come last, people like to show off their wealth by feeding hundreds of guests in costly wedding halls," said Justice Minister Habibullah Ghaleb. "Families are the victim of such a wrong tradition and have to accept these heavy burdens," he said.
Details of the planned ban on expensive weddings were still being worked out, said Justice Ministry spokesman Farid Ahmad Najibi, and he acknowledged it could be difficult to enforce because lavish weddings were so ingrained in Afghan culture.
State institutions were shattered during decades of conflict, with regional, ethnic and tribal differences also making it difficult to enforce laws. Violence is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted, making security a priority even while authorities try to rebuild the aid-reliant economy.
Rafi Kazimi, 24, and his family spent about $10,000 when he married Farima, 20, in October. The couple had 600 guests at their wedding in Kabul. Taxi driver Kazimi and his family are now repaying at least $6,000 in bank loans.
But Kazimi recently lost his job and his family -- his wife, mother, father, grandmother, two sisters, three brothers and one of their wives -- are surviving on his older brother's salary of $410 a month, $300 of which is used to repay the loans. "It was too much," Kazimi said of the money spent on his marriage to his first cousin. "I was so worried about how to find this money. Her parents didn't care if I had the money or not, they just said we must have a big wedding."
While Kazimi thought a ban on expensive weddings was a good idea, he doubted if it would be accepted. Along with the wedding celebrations, a groom and his family are also expected to pay for ornate outfits for the bride and groom. "A HUGE BURDEN"
The government's bid to regulate weddings follows similar moves by some tribal elders and provincial officials.
Late last month, elders from several villages in northern Jawzjan province banned expensive weddings and dowries in a bid to encourage young people to marry instead of postponing their nuptials because they could not afford it. Under the rules, the cost of a wedding must be in line with the economic status of the groom, and if someone violates the ban then they will not be invited to any other weddings in the village.
"Marriage is everyone's right and it must not be presented as a huge burden for the bride and groom," said Azaad Khwa, an elder from Jawzjan. "Making the groom's family pay for everything and feed hundreds is a big sin." Many elaborate wedding halls have sprung up around Kabul over the past nine years, compared with just a few that operated while the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001.
Guests attending weddings at City Star Hall in Kabul's Wazir Abad neighborhood drive through a lit-up moon to the entrance and a large silver star adorns the roof. It opened three months ago at a cost of $5 million, said manager Zabi Mujeeb. It has four wedding halls and hosts about 70 weddings a month, with an average of 800 to 1,000 guests, Mujeeb said. Prices per guest range from $12 to $23 for the food. Music, a cake, decorations and a photographer are all extra."The people living in the city, they don't like to have a lot of guests," said Mujeeb. "But the people living in provinces, they like to have a lot of guests."
In the largest of City Star Hall's venues, staff were putting the finishing touches on decorations for the wedding of a couple from nearby Parwan province. There will be 1,600 guests at a cost of $16,000.
The opulence makes one's head spin. The bride and groom were to walk over a bridge above a fountain in front of mountain landscape mural. They descend onto an illuminated walkway under arches of fake flowers to a stage where they will be seated on silver-colored thrones.
"The grooms find the money," said Mujeeb.
By Michelle Nichols and Hamid Shalizi

Saturday, December 4, 2010

War was our national identity, and as a citizen of the country, we are product of war

“What the fuck are you doing here?” the American solider said as a smile of disbelief spread across his weary face.
It was the summer of 2007, just before I began my first year at Columbia. We were in the Kapisa province of Afghanistan, about 100 miles north of Kabul.
I was traveling to a family wedding. The groom and three of his friends were in our car while our mothers and siblings trailed behind us in a second car. When we arrived at Tagab Valley, we realized that the road was blocked by American soldiers. In some village in the valley, insurgents had opened fire on a passing convoy, then disappeared deep into the village, or up into the mountains. The Americans were out to get them. To avoid the possible flow of other insurgents into the valley, the troops had blocked the road that passed it.
For the first hour, we sat in the car, listening to music, teasing the groom. As the traffic in front of us remained immobile, the groom became increasingly nervous. He was to exchange vows in less than two hours. ”What if I miss my ceremony?” the groom joked, but the look on his face was one of worry.
I walked out of the car to approach the American convoy. I was the natural choice, for I was the only one in the party who spoke English. Dressed no differently from the locals, I realized I could be perceived as a threat. So I returned to our second car and asked to carry my six-month old cousin with me. This way, I would not come across as dangerous.
As I approached the first armored vehicle, baby in arm, the sniper turned his attention toward me. I got closer, passed through the Afghan forces that were accompanying the soldiers, and stood right next to the first American vehicle.
“Is there someone I could speak to, please?” I asked. The soldier looked at me, befuddled. Amidst the dust, amidst the chaos, he heard someone ask a question in English. Without much of an accent. He simply pointed me to his commanding officer.
“Sir, I am traveling with a wedding party,” I said. “ I would like to know when the road—”
“Whoa, whoa” the officer interrupted me, “before you go on: how the fuck do you speak English like that?”
As I explained to him that I was a student in the United States, I forgot about where I was for a moment. I had recently graduated from Deerfield Academy, in western Massachusetts, and I was to begin my first year at Columbia College in the fall. The officer turned out to be from Worcester, Massachusetts. He had traveled down to Deerfield several times.
With the number of “fucks” and “mans” and “likes” exchanged, for a moment it seemed like I was back at boarding school. We were having a conversation I had had several times towards the end of my days at Deerfield: about leaving the valley behind, about moving to the crazy city. But his helmet, his uniform, the dust around us, and his question reminded me that we were far from there:
“What the fuck are you doing here?” He asked with a kind smile. A smile that I could swear I had seen in Western Massachusetts, a voice that I could swear I had heard before.
“I am here for a wedding,” I said. “The groom is nervous that he will be late for his bride!” read more
By Mujid Mashal

Sunday, August 8, 2010

World Food Programme

Tahera Nassrat --
Here in Pakistan, heavy rains have washed away homes, shops, and bridges. Large parts of the northwest remain submerged, and many people are stranded with no access to food.

Yesterday we started delivering emergency food supplies to families in the hardest-hit areas. Over the next three months, in support of national efforts, we aim to help up to 150,000 families.

These floods are reportedly the worst in living memory, killing at least 1,100 people and leaving 1.5 million people in desperate need of help.

Even before the rains hit, we’ve been providing emergency rations to one million people affected by intense fighting in northwest Pakistan, while supporting an additional 2.7 million crisis-affected people.

The best way to help right now is to support our emergency response efforts.

The floods have also caused extensive damage to World Food Programme warehouses where we’re storing significant food stocks for Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan. We’re going to need all the help we can get to continue our lifesaving operations, while ensuring we can meet the needs of victims in an emergency.

As you probably know, we rely entirely on voluntary contributions. On behalf of the flood victims and my colleagues here in Pakistan, thank you so much for your support of WFP.



Dominique Frankefort
Deputy Country Director, Pakistan
World Food Programme

Monday, July 19, 2010

Afghanistan Education System!

Afghanistan has two education systems; the religious and the government. The religious system is taught by Mulas (religious leaders) at masques that includes teaching Quran and provide religious advices. The government system is implemented at schools which is free of charge and is consist of  different subjects including religious.
Afghanistan does not only have different system of education, but also has different culture and principle of teaching. In all primary schools, beside the normal teaching material, teachers hold stick to control and behave students. Mostly, students are not allowed to leave the class with out teachers’ permission. If they  feel thirsty or feel going to toilet, they have to be seated till the permission is granted or wait for class to over.
Every school gets 15-minutes break to drink, eat, stretch legs and go to the toilet and no one is allowed to leave the school during this time.
Punishment at schools became part of government education system. Students get punished for different reasons. For example, boys are not allowed to leave their hairs grow and if so, then their hairs get cutoff in the class in front of all classmates in an insulting way by the teacher or principle of the school. Not only that, girls are also not allowed to color or perm their hair; wear colorful hair clips, use lipstick and makeup.
Everyday before school starts, three teachers attend school gate and check the bags of all students on arrival. It is to make sure there is no makeup, knife, nail polish, brush, celebrities’ postcards and other stuff which are not study related.
In the class, if students miss the homework or unable to answer questions asked by teachers, the students will be either punished by stick, or asked to stand in front of the class till the teaching session is over. No respect to what so ever is given to students.
Surprisingly, the corruption is not only within government, but is also mixed with education system at schools. Teachers do not mark students based on their talent and papers’ outcome. Instead they consider, if  students’ mothers or fathers are their co worker, or if there is a family connection, or if  students can provide bribe in form of gift to the teachers . There is no real value for real talent at schools.
Teachers at government schools are mostly 12 grades graduates. Teaching is not their professions, but they are teaching for living. Currently, the low money earners in Afghanistan are the teachers and majority of them are female. Government is trying to upgrade the system of education and the changes are underway with university system. People are in hope to have a proper, efficient and effective system at schools to educate the new generation of Afghanistan.
Let’s hope for the best and hope instead of beating students, teacher can talk to them and instead of cutting students hair which damage their personality in front of their classmate, they can change the rule to give a bit of respect and  freedom to students.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Afghanistan- Press and Media

Like other countries, Afghanistan also celebrates 5th of May “The International World Press Freedom Day”. It is a day to remind the government the duty to respect and uphold the rights to the freedom of press. It’s a day that the country should stand up and say we are democratic and freedom of speech is our priority. But unfortunately, the duty of respect barely is met by Afghanistan government and its people.
Afghanistan media refers to print and broadcast. The media was tightly controlled during Taliban regime. However, after overthrow of Taliban in 2001, the media seems to relax and relatively free. But still, press freedom is threatened by war in Afghanistan with kidnapping and killing of journalists. According to Sediqullah, the head of press and media, last year 73 correspondents were registered for domestic violence; 4 killed, 4 wounded, 33 under investigation, 18 tortured and 14 received dead intimidation. Majority of this violence were undertaken by government bodies and minority by powerful non government groups.
Afghanistan claims to be a democratic country and respects freedom of speech. But unfortunately, this is not the reality in practice. If you publish and say the truth; either you are kidnapped or killed. Security for local correspondents is not guaranteed in both, Kabul and other provinces. To complete the formality, Afghanistan government agreed with NATO to make a committee to meet once in a month to secure the life and position of journalists around the country. But this seems insufficient. In the last couple of years Afghanistan lost its skillful and talented journalists. Students from universities were kidnapped because they exercised publication of truth. Girls journalists were killed because they were women and had dark makeup and free language at media and TV.
So who should say the truth and when this should be said? Would you rather say the truth or die?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Men that live inside women¹s bodies

Sometimes I want to leave this place and go away. I want to restart my life somewhere else. I want to be in a place where I will not get caught by frustration this often, where happiness and tranquility will replace the sadness that presses my heart. I want to be in a place where I will feel freedom and liberty in the air. There are people here that tell me Afghanistan is not where I should have been born in. They tell me to go far away from here because this country cannot tolerate a liberated woman. But I know freeing me from this country does not mean freeing my soul and heart from it. By leaving this country I will leave myself and letting a big part of struggle forever or die. I remind myself that this is a struggle zone. I remind myself that if I stay here and fight this war of being a woman and remaining a woman the generation after me will not have to go through what I am going through.
Today I am fighting for my femininity so that tomorrow my daughter will not have to live through discrimination and suppression. This country makes me have a love-hate relationship with it. It forces me feel weak and frustrated at times. But this is my home. It is my duty to fight. It is my generation¹s duty to struggle and pave the way for the next generation. I must remember that this country also gives me pride, it gives me challenges and achievements, it gives me victory at end.
I have gone a long way to find myself and appreciate myself as a woman in this male dominant society. I have managed to give a feminine definition for myself, in a society where everything is defined by men. The change I see in myself makes believe in change in others. But the change must happen in the minds of every Afghan woman.
Sometimes as I talk to Afghan women, I feel that I am talking to men inside women¹s bodies. This makes me angry. A woman who is ashamed of talking about her monthly period is not a woman. A woman¹s monthly period is the one of the most feminine experiences she goes through. But even that has a male dominant definition. A woman while having her monthly period finds herself dirty and ugly. She feels unaccepted and outcast. She is abandoned from talking about what she goes through. Women here must redefine this experience which they go through. They must be respected for going through this experience and understood they should not be ashamed of it.
I face and deal with men in women¹s bodies on daily basis. Men that think they are women and suppress womanhood. Here I confront ³women² who are ashamed of their bodies, ³women² that hate their bodies, ³women² that think their body makes them vulnerable, ³women² that burn up their own bodies in flames of fire and curse themselves for being born a woman. Even they themselves cannot appreciate their own femininity, because their sexuality is defined by men. There is nothing feminine in the way they are defined by men. These ³women² believe their bodies are to please men. These women believe in sexual relationships only men have the right to be satisfied.
These ³women² believe that their bodies are tools for men¹s pleasure and they are to be passive and tools. No one asks them if they enjoy sexual intercourse or not. No one asks them what position they like better. No one asks them what they want during sexual intercourse. In this sexual game the goal to be achieved is to please men. And afterwards the woman¹s task is to grow the product of that in her womb, give birth to it and raise it all unwillingly.
What makes these men in women¹s bodies trustworthy and respectable is their hymens. These ³women² have the ³sacred² duty of taking care of their hymen from childhood till the night they are raped by a man who has no respect for their own self but rather trusts them for their hymen. These ³women² believe by taking care of their hymen they are taking care of their pride, their self respect, their chastity and proving their faithfulness to their husbands. There is no one to ask why only women must prove their virginity?
What is chastity? What is pride? What is self respect? How do you prove a man¹s pride, self respect and faithfulness? Why do we bring up our daughters teaching them that their bodies are to be kept and protected because they belong to men? Women here must grow up thinking of their bodies as their own properties. How women treat their body relates to them only. Every woman must explore every part of her body because her body belongs to her and only her.
Every woman must love and her appreciate her own body. Thinking of our bodies as properties of men turns us in to material and is one of the most major manners through which we are suppressed. Freedom means liberation from the limitations we as women have accepted to live with. We must free our own bodies and reclaim them from men.
I must remain here and fight these male dominant views and thoughts that suppress women here. I must not allow these male dominant views define the identity of a woman and womanhood. This society is in need of women who liberate their minds, souls and bodies. This society is in need of women who alter this male dominant society to a society where everyone is respected and appreciated. I must remain here to re-establish the thoughts and languages that entitle a liberated woman a Fahesha (prostitute) or Ghar numai (a whore, a slut), or at least to attempt to create the male equivalent of these thoughts and words. I will stay here to at least confront people with this question: How do you measure a man¹s virginity?
Voice:  Zubaida Akbar

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This is Afghanistan, NOT America

Rukhma, who does not know her age but looks younger than 20; was trafficked across the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan with her three-year-old son. In Pakistan, Rukhma was married to an abusive man who fathered her son, Bilal. Rukhma divorced her husband and married another Pakistani man by whom she became pregnant last year. Then she was kidnapped by a neighbor and taken to Afghanistan where she was raped by an Afghan man for three months. One day she overheard the Afghan finalizing a deal to sell Rukhma to another man who wanted her but not her son. Scared of losing her son, Rukhma ran away one day from the house. Unfortunately, Rukhma was soon discovered by the Afghan, who not only mercilessly beat her but also murdered her son in front of her eyes. When the Afghan police arrived, they arrested the Afghan murderer and rapist as well as Rukhma. Although her tormentor received a 20-years jail term, Rukhma was also imprisoned on charges of adultery for four years.
Blaming the victim common 
Yet except for a small urban elite, a woman fleeing domestic violence or accusing a man of rape herself often ends up the guilty party in the eyes of judges and prosecutors."Why am I here? I'm innocent," Rukhma said, crying in a musty jail cell and cradling a baby daughter by her previous marriage whom she bore in prison. "It is cruel to have your son killed before your eyes and then to be imprisoned."
In parts of Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, where stern social codes prevail, a woman who runs away from home is typically suspected of having taken a lover and can be prosecuted for adultery. Simply leaving her house without her family's permission may be deemed an offense — as in Rukhma's case — although it is not classified as such under Afghanistan's penal code.
The chief prosecutor of eastern Nangarhar province who oversaw Rukhma's case suggested she got off lightly.
"If my wife goes to the bazaar without my permission, I will kill her. This is our culture," Abdul Qayum shouted scornfully during an interview in his office in the city of Jalalabad.
His colleagues laughed approvingly. "This is Afghanistan, not America," Qayum said.
Rukhma’s case is not a stray incidence but the social condition of the women in Afghanistan, which has not changed even after the US led NATO invaded the country overthrowing the Taliban regime. Under the new Afghan constitution, women have the right to education, can get a job and are to be always protected by the law, but in reality, women especially in rural Afghanistan are as vulnerable as before. Violence against women has in fact risen in the last one year. According to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, there were 2,374 reported cases of violence against women in 2007 while the figure in 2006 was 1,651. In 70 to 80 percent of these cases often the woman is charged of criminal activities for running away from the home and committing adultery. In incidences of rape, where it is very difficult to prove the allegations, the victim is accused of adultery and thrown into the jail.

Reference: msnbc

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Discovery of Budda in Kabul

This is the incompleted sculpture of Budda which was discovered in south of Kabul in Shada-i- Salihin hill by Ministry of information and culture. This is the famous hill where five years ago a budda temple with twenty eight historical pieces of Buda belonging were found.
They are 15century old and one meter high.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

'I don't want to go home'

The Qambar Square camp in Kabul’s west is now home to more than 1,200 families from across Afghanistan. Bibi Hawa lost her husband, daughter and son to war. She now lives with her three grandchildren in a tent at a refugee camp in Kabul.
The old woman cries as she says, “I fled from Marjah in Helmand province because of the fighting. I don’t want to go home any more. I lost my family there and I don’t believe the war will end in our province.”
She is dressed in old clothes and wrapped in an old blanket. As we talk she frequently asks for money.
“My son and my husband fed us before they were killed,” she says. “Now I ask people to give me some bread just to survive”.

Wakil Ahmad Tawoos lives at the camp and is a tribal elder. “The camp was established more than year ago,” he says. “There are more than 800 families here who fled Helmand province.”
As you walk through the camp, you are quickly surrounded by people begging for help. They are refugees in their own country. Some have lost limbs. Some have lost family members.

The children are hungry, but some of them study. There is a school here. It is a tent with no tables or chairs. It is hot in summer and muddy in winter. When class ends the students have to carry water to their homes from a nearby pump.
“Young boys can’t get jobs and are spending long days and nights under tents,” says Tawoos. “They have to wait for rich people to bring them food or money.
“We were all farmers who made money growing opium. Now there are no more jobs for us in Helmand because the government has banned poppy farming.”
The Afghan government says it “encourages” the refugees to return to their homes. It is planning to provide transportation in the future.
Reference: CNN News

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NATO- The Second Enemy After Taliban!

Afghanistan is becoming a grave yard. Innocent people including women and children are losing their lives in every corner of the country. Sometimes they are shield to Taliban to fight with NATO and sometimes they are killed by NATO, mistaken for Taliban.
People lost hope. They do not trust foreign troops any more. In every afghan network and communication centers, people are rolling the same questions over and over. Why are NATO killing innocent people including women and children? Why do they use the cover of “Mistake”? Why are people always having to be fooled with the same reply “the case is under investigation”?
However, if a(n) American, British, Australian soldier is injured or kidnapped, the whole world shakes and people spend thousands of dollars on investigating the case, but when it comes to Afghanistan, the truth is hidden. Why?
After first denying involvement, US forces admit killing two pregnant afghan women, one mother of ten; another mother of six and a teenager on February 12th. Afghan investigators told The Times of London that US soldiers tried to cover up the killings and reportedly dug the bullets out of victims’ bodies, then washed the wounds with alcohol. However, NATO officials claimed that women had already been killed hours before the raid.  The area of incident was sealed off from 4:00 a.m., when they first arrived, until 11:00 a.m. that morning. That’s more than seven hours. So it’s not exactly clear, still not clear, why the US Special Forces would have stayed on location for such a long time.
NATO also admitted killing five Afghans civilians, including three women on a home in Gardez. The joint American and Afghan assault team shot five Afghans - all family members - from the roofs of buildings in a large residential compound near Gardez, in southeastern Afghanistan.
On December 27th another incident took place in eastern kunar, when ten Afghans, eight of them schoolchildren, were killed. According to the Times of London, US-led troops dragged innocent children from their beds and shot them during a nighttime raid. Afghan government investigators said the eight students were aged from eleven to seventeen, all but one of them from the same family.
And the recent incident on Monday 12th April in Kandahar, when US attacked on passenger bus. Five Afghan civilians have been killed and another eighteen wounded. The bus driver and a passenger told  The New York Times a US convoy opened fire just as the bus began pulling over to the side of the road to allow another military convoy to pass. The bus was full of civilian passengers when US troops opened fire. All of the windows on one side of the bus were shot out. Some of the wounded were left in critical condition, and the death toll could rise.
These are the tragic incidents which NATO in some cases denied and in some others admitted responsibilities. People are demanding answers, but not even a single hearing happened so far.

Let’s see what people have to say about NATO!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'll vote for a real Afghan!

Noor Akor supports his family of seven on $3 a day; he lives on a mountain with no electricity or running water and it takes him an hour to walk to his work as a hairdresser. “I’ll vote for a real Afghan, someone who cares for the people, who can bring security, harmony and prosperity. President Karzai has two passports and 200 bodyguards every time he travels; he is not a real Afghan.” he said.
''I want my country to be controlled by some one who can take time to visit people who are living in caves and listen to their voices'' he said!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life in Caves of Bamyan!

Bamyan province is one of the largest provinces in Hazarajat region of Afghanistan. It is located in centre of the country and majority of people are Hazaras. According to government officials, throughout the country, twenty million people are living under poverty line, from which 40% make a home in Bamyan. Poverty is increasing in this province. People are simply in shortage of food, shelter and warm clothes. In the 3,000 caves at side of Buddha statue, about 300 families are still living with out water, electricity and medication. Seeing these caves, one may hardly think living of any human there, but families are still surviving there. Bamyan province has no infrastructure of electricity, gas and water supplies. Like other provinces, life depends on agriculture, animals and children’s income. Children, like in other parts of the country, are the money makers in Bamyan. Boys collect grass to feed livestock and girls do washing, ironing and cleaning to boost incomes. The need to support widows and orphan children remains as the province still lacks significant investment on roads, water and schooling. According to Mohamad Reza, chief of education in Bamyan, from 303 schools in Bamyan only 81 of them have walls, and classrooms to simply run a class. Students are attending classes with out required stationery. They sell the nutrition biscuits distributed by WFP at schools to buy pen and notebooks. Most talented students leave schools and join agriculture, casual work, and even gang of smugglers. The human rights office is concern about future of these children, especially those who join gangs  and become victims of sexual abuse. Overall, people are not happy about government. They believe due to their ethnicity, not much attention is given to Bamyan province. They simply believe that trading millions between government and NATO has no positive impact on their lives. They were/are suffering from poverty and simply can't feed their children.
However, Dr Habiba Sarabi, the Bamyan Governor, stated that its not the issue of ethnicity, but it is the geographical location, cold weather and roadblock in Bamyan that impact on Bamyan's economy.
Marzia is one of Bamyan's residents. She has seven children and her husband is mentally sick. Marzia is renting her cousin’s house for 500Afghani ($10), but she has not paid the rent for the last 6 years. Marzia’s monthly income is 1500Afghani ($30) through her husband’s pension, but she says, ' it is not enough to run a family of nine and treat my husband too'. Marzia’s intension was to marry her younger daughter in exchange for 12000 Afghanis ($240) but her older son did not allow her. Instead, he stopped going to school and is now working in a TV workshop and earns $4 a week. During Mujahidin regime, Marzia’s house was attacked by Mujahidin and one of her sons was killed and her three fingers were cut off. Marzia thinks her life is better in comparison to other families; at least she has bread and sometimes potato to feed the children. However, it is always hard to even find those in winter. This is life far away from Kabul, the capital which seems to have all attention and life entertainments. People are still living in poverty even worse than what has been explained. Government officials are working with United Nation on programs to eliminate poverty, but people in Bamyan beleives they are behind walls and  stones in caves and its hard to be seen and heard! Read it on 'FPB' too.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Forced Marriages in Afghanistan

Throughout the world, there are 49 countries that have forced marriage or child bride problems. Forced marriage is simply breach of basic human rights. It is a form of domestic violence and child abuse that contributes to a society’s problems.
Afghanistan is one of the Islamic countries where people hold strongly tight to customs and traditions. Breaking the tradition of marrying young children, both boys and girls, is not only difficult, but near impossible in most urban districts.
In the rural areas of Afghanistan, girls are mostly married between ages of 7 to 11. It is really rare that a girl reaches the age of 16 and is not married. The customs, traditions and community they live in make it impossible for girls to break free from forced marriages. They do not get ask to speak for self desire. The fathers in the families mostly decide, as the mothers do not get involved in the decisions, because they are women.
By marrying  children in early ages, families are putting them in situations of isolation, health problems, abuse, suicide and lack of education. They believe, they are doing best for their children and without their consents, they bond them into marriage contracts.
However, they don’t consider that forced marriage affect women and young children adversely. It involves negative situations like threatening behavior, emotional blackmail, physical violence, rape, sexual abuse, suicide and even murder and young children are obviously not in the capacity to handle such pressure.
e1202306365According to a United Nations’ report, between 60 to 80 percent of marriages in Afghanistan are forced marriages. The report states that the reason why girls are dragged into forced marriages are; repayment of debts; to solve a dispute and to pay family expenses. Moreover, It is obvious among Pashtons, that their widow will never marry someone out of their family, as they always marry the brother of their deceased husband. However in a non-Pashton family, the girl is asked to marry her brother-in-law to get support for the children of her sister. Even worse, some sisters are married to pay for the crime of their brothers by marrying the victims.
So, people in Afghanistan believe it is part of culture to marry a girl before age of 18th and not let her have a say, but they should consider that forcing a girl to marry cannot be regarded as cultural practice in any society.  It is a violation of basic human rights. Therefore, women as part of society should be able to freely express their choices about their lifestyle desires.
The video bellow is history of a 12 year girl who was forced into marriage. She ran away to break free from her in-laws, but unfortunately was arrested and in form of punishment by her husband (a Talib) she lost her nose and ear Read more!

Click play to view her video 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Life after Taliban Regime

After collapse of Taliban regime, Afghanistan first democratic presidential election took place in October 2004. Hamid Karzai has been elected as president of Afghanistan. Ten million Afghans, more than a third of the country, registered to vote, including more than 40% of eligible women. Karzai was declared the winner in November, taking 55% of the vote, and was inaugurated in December.  Second presidential elections were held on August 20, 2009. More than 30 candidates challenged incumbent Karzai, with Abdullah Abdullah as the most formidable contender. Karzai was declared the winner on Nov. 5 and began his second five-year term as president
Back to School
has the highest primary school enrollment in its history.  Since January 2003, almost 4 million children are back to school. The number is increasing. People are knocking education centers in every corner. Only in two districts of Afghanistan more than 1500 women and 1325 men participated in literacy courses. After Taliban regime, not only children but also adults returned to schools and education centers. People are welcoming “Back to school” programs because it not only educate people, but also provides an opportunity for adults to share their own solutions to the problems they face in the community.

Women in the Society
During Taliban regime, women had the worse time in Afghanistan history. They were forbidden to work and leave the house with out escort. Seeking medical treatment from a male doctor was out of question. They had to be covered from head to toe including eyes. The women who were doctors, teachers, and engineers were prison at their own houses; they either end up being beggars or prostituters to feed their families. But since fall of Taliban, the women situation has been improved considerably.

Women are now given equal rights as men in the country. They are no longer prison at their own houses. They are back to society and work. Government also does not force them to cover, or wear burqa. Most of women returned to government jobs like ministries and parliament. It looks like collapse of Taliban has given life to million dead bodies of afghan women. They are as busy as men on development side of the country. Today you can find women in every corner of the country engage with an activity. Some are back to universities, some are to militaries, some to parliament, some to airlines as stewards, and some are attending available courses to accelerate their language and driving skills.
Life and entertainment has returned to Afghanistan after Taliban regime. Population in the country is increasing. Most of young and energetic boys and girls are joining the world of sports. They are working hard to participate in Olympic Games through which they can battle for the country's honor and flog out as winners. It is a pleasure to be witness that
Afghanistan hit the world of championship for cricket today and the credit defiantly should be given to all these energetic young generation.
Since aliban’s elimination; Afghanistan has tasted the joy of freedom and prosperity. It is functioning smoothly and people are excited with the alterations. Today Afghanistan again has a film and television industry. The museum is open and the old center is being rebuilt. Economic is boosting, money is changed, and freedom of media came back to life.  Developments and infrastructures are underway and population is increasing with returnees. Despite all these changes many challenges still remain. The recent suicide attacks in the country took the color of joys and happiness from people’s faces. People are trying to avoid crowded places and stay indoors as much as possible. But they believe the government and foreign troops are there to help and can’t wait to have a peaceful country soon back.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Three Categories of people in Afghanistan!

Higher Category: People of this category are the richest among all. They are holder of different positions in government or out of the country. Sky is the limit for them.  They are self-center, focus and don't think out of their lives' circles.  They are thirsty for success, earnings and self-benefits. Never satisfy with less.  Always want to be the winners and have the highest positions and the buildings in the society. They personally do not care about government, environment and people's benefit and requirements. They have no time for others, except their families.

Middle Category: People of this category are the middle earners. They are focus, doer and hungry for achievements. They are either engage with private businesses (shops, restaurants, hotels) or UNs and NGOs  or government lower positions. They live with the ideology that European or Western countries are heaven on the earth. It is clean, beautiful, loyal and easy. Government pays you, houses, electricity and water are free and buying a car is a matter of click.  They do whatever it takes to leave the county to make a living in one of these countries. They believe these countries are an automatic world like a PC with out any virus/error....
Lower Category: People of this category are the beggars. They beg on street for living. Do not have food, clean water, clothes and shelters. They always focus on how to find food to pass a day. Their lives are full of tensions. A tension for the morning to find breakfast, a tension for noon to find lunch and a tension for night to find a place to sleep, food to eat and clothes to cover- not to die. All they need is help, support and attention, but unfortunately, they don't get this.

In summary,  If  higher class people think of their pockets, middle class people think of leaving the country and lower class people think of their empty stomachs…then 
Who is really thinking about Afghanistan? Who is really thinking about its future, infrastructure and development? Who is the next generation of this country and who will make this country a better world for upcoming generation? 
Please state if you h ave the answers!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

David Miliband's Answer to Tahera Nassrat's Question!

David Miliband: Do you think President Hamid Karzi will be able to provide a stable situation in Afghanistan with his new cabinet? Mr President H.Karzi has possessed presidential chair through corruption; do you think he will be able to eliminate corruption from the country itself? Do you think Mr Karzi has education, health, women equal rights and Poverty on his top agenda and how serious he is on these issues?
Asked by Tahera N. on Jan 19 2010 6:35:56 PM and supported by 10 members!
Answer by David Miliband:
Click 'play' to view.