Under the thumb of Islam — Women in Afghanistan

Afghanistan. Infamous for the Burqa or Chidori. It’s the land that the Taliban made famous by oppressing women. The famous scene of the woman being shot with an AK-47 by a cold and heartless talib. The women here are a mystery to me. I’ve met a couple. One who spoke almost no English. One who had lived in exile with her family in London and returned briefly to live with her Aunt and Uncle.

Walking around Kabul, you see Afghani women covered from head to toe in the burqa or chidari. You’ll see women covering themselves with the hijab. Occasionally, you see Afghan women who go uncovered in public. It’s rare. Usually she will be from a family who had spent time outside of Afghanistan during the past 30 years of war. Families who have adopted a Western and liberal attitude.

What I find ludicrous about the whole hijab, burqa, chidori tradition is that it is in no way a choice of the woman. If you ask an Afghani male, he will usually tell you that she is wearing it because of her family or her husband. “If you have a beautiful wife and you don’t want other men looking at her, you tell her to cover herself.” “Her family is traditional so they tell her to cover herself.” Men in Afghanistan think that it is a stain upon their honor if other men look at their wives. Somehow that blame is transferred to the women. It is their fault that men find them attractive. Therefore, the women must cover themselves.

The Arab Islamic attitude with which I have become acquainted is even more weak of mind and spirit. If a woman is raped, it is her fault because she put herself in that situation. She put herself in that situation because she allowed herself to be alone with a man not of her family. It’s her fault because she went uncovered. It’s her fault because she wore tight, form fitting clothing as opposed to the loose clothing prescribed by Allah and Muhammad. The man shares no blame even though he committed the heinous act. It’s not the man’s fault that he raped her. He couldn’t help himself because he was overcome with lust. His weakness is forgiven. Tolerated. Excused. In my opinion, that weakness of spirit is encouraged in the Arab Islamic tradition. We are to believe that Muslim men have no more control over their lust than toddlers have over their bowel movements? This attitude towards women spreads with Islam. In Islam, women are objects to be controlled, owned, traded, bartered for and sold away. Mere property at the whim and mercy of men. Yet, we are told that women have rights in Islam.

In accordance with Islamic sharee’ah, women who are raped must have four male witnesses. If these four witnesses are not forthcoming and the woman admits that she is raped, she is guilty of adultery. Punishable by death. If she is not put to death then she is exiled from family and community.

This is Islamic Justice!

An interesting story illustrates the attitudes of Islamic men towards women. I was driving around Kabul with an Afghani. As usual, I was taking pictures. Each time I took a picture of a woman, he would get upset and grunt or in some way express his disapproval to me indirectly. Finally, I asked him what the problem was. He told me that I should not be taking pictures of women. His real problem was that I was taking pictures of Afghani women. Islamic women. Yet this same man carries around a phone with a gigabyte of hardcore porn which he will show you in the manner of a bragging adolescent. I mean hardcore as in animals and women. I told him that he was a hypocrite. I offered a deal. I would stop taking pictures of Afghan women if he would erase all of his porn. Of course, he balked. I told him to shut up and drive. lol

Another ludicrous example of the traditions here and elsewhere in the world of Islam. I met a young woman who had lived most of her life in Switzerland. She had gone to all western schools from grade school through University. Her family moved back to Afghanistan a couple of years ago. They spent most of their family money in the process of returning. This girl is quite beautiful. So her father used her beauty to form a business partnership. She is to be married to a man in his 60s. She will be his second wife. Expected to give him the son that his first wife had yet to produce. She has a degree in mathematics that will be for naught as her husband to be is a traditionalist. She will be required to wear a chidari and will not be allowed to leave the house much less hold a job. Once she stepped back inside the world of Islam, she became property. She has no choice in this matter. No say.

This is the world of Islam. The justice that Islam affords women.

These are Islams victims. Future and present.

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NGO volunteers from London pose with their students in Kabul.

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As mysterious as she is beautiful.

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Hijab, Chidari, Burqa … the arrogance and folly of Islamic men. Why would you cause to be hidden such beauty.

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11 comments on “Under the thumb of Islam — Women in Afghanistan

  1. I THINK ENLIGHTENING AND RAISING CONSCIOUSNESS IS ALWAYS THE NOBLE WAY.

    IT HASN’T BEEN LONG AGO THAT WOMEN WERE PROPERTY OF THEIR HUSBANDS IN THE US. THEY WEREN’T ALLOWED TO VOTE OR OWN PROPERTY.
    I AM NOT CLEAR ON THIS STATEMENT: THEY COULD BE BEATEN AS LONG AS THE STICK WAS THE APPROPRIATE LENGTH AND THICKNESS. THIS MAY HAVE
    ONLY BEEN THE LAW IN ENGLAND. HOWEVER, CLOSE ENOUGH. IF A WIFE WAS TOO OUT OF SORTS SHE WOULD BE PUT AWAY IN AN ASYLUM OR WHATEVER. HOPEFULLY, THINGS WILL EVENTUALLY CHANGE IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD.

    THEY ARE STILL CHANGING HERE. A LITTLE HISTORY OF CHANGE.

    THIS IS FROM A 1978 SOCIOLOGY BOOK.

    WOMEN

    IN 1944, THE SWEDISH ECONOMIST, GUNNAR MYRDAL, IN “AN AMERICAN DILEMMA”, DREW A PARALLEL BETWEEN THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SITUATION OF BLACKS AND WOMEN. HE CONTENDED THAT AMERICAN BLACKS AND WOMEN ARE VICTIMS OF A PATERNALISTICALLY DOMINATED SOCIETY AND QUOTES FROM GEORGE FITZHUGH’S SOCIOLOGY FOR THE SOUTH TO ILLUSTRATE HIS POINT:

    “A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE AND ILLUSTRATION……IS FOUND IN THE INSTANCE OF THE PATRIARCH ABRAHAM. HIS WIVES AND HIS CHILDREN, HIS MEN SERVANTS AND HIS MAID SERVANTS, HIS CAMELS AND HIS CATTLE, WERE ALL EQUALLY HIS PROPERTY. HE COULD SACRIFICE ISAAC OR A RAM JUST AS HE PLEASED. HE LOVED AND PROTECTED ALL, AND ALL SHARED, IF NOT EQUALLY, AT LEAST FAIRLY, IN THE PRODUCTS OF THEIR LIGHT LABOUR. WHO WOULD NOT DESIRE TO HAVE BEEN A SLAVE OF THAT OLD PATRIARCH, STERN AND DESPOTIC AS HE WAS?…….PRIDE, AFFECTION, SELF-INTEREST MOVED ABRAHAM TO PROTECT, LOVE, AND TAKE CARE OF HIS SLAVES. THE SAME MOTIVES OPERATE ON ALL MASTERS AND SECURE COMFORT, COMPETENCY, AND PROTECTION TO THE SLAVE. A MAN’S WIFE AND CHILDREN ARE HIS SLAVES, AND DO THEY NOT ENJOY, IN COMMON WITH HIMSELF, HIS PROPERTY.”

    THE BOOK, SOCIAL PROBLEMS, GOES ON TO STATE: ” THIS LEGACY STILL INFLUENCES THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN WOMEN LIVE.”

    THANKS FOR THE FORUM DAVID.

  2. there are no words that can describe the disgust that you feel when you read these ways women are being treated all in the name of their religion. as usual men are in control of these women and it is truly sad that they cant do anything about it. it was like that with Christianity as well in the past. men were to rule over women and control them. they were property of the men, as well as the children. the law wouldn’t interfere with any abuse of the women or children because they were seen as the mans property. there are diaries of women who were caught up in this as soon as the late 1800’s. there are even diaries of men who knew things were wrong with families they knew but wrote how they couldnt do anything because it was nt there place and it was legal because the children and women were the mans to do with what he wants to. it wasnt that long ago we were in the similar situation. we had a little more rights than the afgan women. hopefully if people are more aware by reading these reports of the abuse people will start to try and stop it.

  3. Dave, I am quite taken by some of these photos, would you mind if I use some of these for my paintings? I am currently working on a rather large painting presently that holds 7 young women with children (they’re own? the ‘women’ are pratically children themselves). Your words ring true, the failings of that religion, anything that subjugates one humanbeing beneath another cannot be devine, not of God, but of man, and therefore flawed, such is religion.

  4. Janie, you can use any of these photos. The images don’t belong to me. The belong to the women themselves. I’ve just borrowed them.

    It’d be cool to see some of them in your paintings.

    Dave

  5. This article is nonsense. While it may be that the Muslim women of Afghanistan are oppressed by their ignorant men folk, this is not a true representation of Islam at all. No where in the quran does Allah/God endorse such harsh and barbaric treatment of women. Allah is just, merciful, full of pity and compassionate. Women are given a noble status in the quran. The shariah does not sanction stoning in fact the only reference in the quran to stoning is when its used as a threat by the ‘PAGANS’ against prophets and messengers. I converted to islam from Christianity and i have never experienced such spiritual beauty and peace in my life. Stop spreding lies about Islam and get the facts not some twisted taliban version.

    • And what of Iran?

      Saudi Arabia?

      Hozbollah occupied Lebanon?

      Pakistan?

      Kuwait?

      The UAE?

      Egypt (outside of Cairo and Alexandria)?

      Sudan?

      Etc, etc, etc

      Who’s twisting Islam there? Me or Muslim Men.

      Perhaps, the Qu’ran does not insist that women be treated as chattel slave property. This does not stop the majority of Muslim men from doing so and claiming the Qu’ran as justification.

      Please enlighten me as to why women are made to cover themselves in nearly all Muslim lands and Islam is used to justify this treatment, yet, Islam is not at fault?

      I’ll wait.

      I’ve been to many of these places and witnessed this treatment with my own eyes.

      There are even Muslim Men in Thailand who insist that their women remain covered. Meanwhile, they spend their nights in Go Go Clubs and strip bars and Drinkie Bars with scantily clad prostitutes.

      Yeay, Go Islam!

  6. Maria,

    I agree with you that Islam as individual spirituality can be a beautiful and uplifting experience. The sad fact is that Islam, like Christianity before it, is used to oppress others. The why of it matters very little. Look around you. Look at the world. Where in the world where Islam is strong is it not oppressive.

    If Islam is law, women are not given the choice of how to present themselves. And even where Islam is not law, the men of Islam use the religion to oppress women.

    It was the same with Christianity.

    A woman who walks around uncovered is called all manner of names in the lands of Islam. Often times, it goes beyond mere names to physical assault.

    A religion is only what it’s people makes of it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Islam has been made a cruel mockery of beauty.

    Do you live in America?

    Try living Islam in Iran. Iraq. Syria, Egypt. Dubai. Kuwait. Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan. Pakistan. India. See how free and beautiful you feel then.

    This is the representation of Islam on planet Earth. Perhaps, the Quran meant it differently. Perhaps, God and Mohammad (PBUH) meant it differently. And Perhaps George Bush meant to be a better President.

    Last time I saw, Allah wasn’t stopping any of the violence or ignorance in the Muslim world.

    Maybe it’s just me.

    Stoning might not be in the Qu’ran. Fact is. This form of punishment is used in the Muslim world. You’re getting your beautiful book confused with the reality on the ground.

    I have visited or lived in almost every Muslim country out there. Universally, the Muslim world treats women as 2nd class citizens. Doesn’t much matter what the Quran says when men twist it to their ends. Now does it.

    I challenge you. Go live in Iran or Iraq. Go live in Syria. Even Egypt. Egypt is the most tolerant of Muslim nations in the Arab crescent. Live there. See how free and noble you feel.

  7. I am not innocent of being jealous of a beautiful wife, Dave, Yes I am a Christian. I am like Christ except that I am far from perfect. Shariah law, as I understand it, is as you describe.

    From early schooling here in America, it is far too evident that women can think and do many of the things men can, as well as or better.

    I am happy that God made men and women of different characteristics. In His way, God has blessed us all and there will be a better hereafter.

    Thanks for your efforts here on earth!

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