Image: BBC News - South Asia
We all hear snippets of news about how women are treated in Afghanistan, and a little about women's rights in that part of the world, but it was only when I read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini that I really began to realize the full horror of what it was like to be a woman in a culture which values women merely as child-bearing slaves.
It would not be unreasonable to say that, by Western standards, women's rights in most of Afghanistan are precarious or non-existent.
Women must obey their husbands, and all the males in their household, including younger brothers. Even boys treat their mothers in ways which we would consider disrespectful.
Even if she treads carefully and conducts herself according to the morality of the society in which she lives, the Afghan woman is still likely to be subjected to beatings, but would normally avoid serious injury, such as public stoning, and public whipping, judicially decreed by the local mullah, not to mention assault by family members such as having boiling water or acid thrown over her.
Oh, and I almost forgot – if an Afghan woman brings shame on her family, by refusing to marry the man chosen for her or to whom she has been sold or exchanged for land or other favors, or if she has a relationship with a man, or behaves in any way which could be viewed as unseemly, her own family might feel morally bound to murder her. Quaintly enough, this would be considered to be an honour killing and would be socially acceptable.
Three thought-provoking films from YouTube about what it’s like to be a woman in Afghanistan.