Because You Asked Today in Class

I saw this in the news, so I’m sharing:

400 Girls And Women In Afghanistan Are In Prison For Running Away From Forced Marriages And Beatings.

Up to 400 women and girls are being held in Afghan prisons for “moral crimes” including running away from home to escape beatings or forced marriage according to a study.

Virtually all teenage girls held in prison are accused of immorality, either extramarital sex or running away, and around half of adult women inmates.

In the ten years since the US invaded the country with the goal of overthrowing the Taliban and bringing human rights to the country, not much has changed.  Girls are forced into marriage at an early age, and when they run away, they are jailed.  The Afghan Supreme Court has ruled this is ok, since they are being “protected” from prostitution and promiscuity.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said: “It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage.

“No one should be locked up for fleeing a dangerous situation even if it’s at home. President Karzai and Afghanistan’s allies should act decisively to end this abusive and discriminatory practice.”

The report, called “I Had to Run Away,” details shocking stories of abuse in the poor, war-torn country.

The United Nations has estimated around three quarters of marriages in Afghanistan are forced and unmarried girls are also sometimes given, or exchanged, to resolve disputes or stand in place of a dowry.

Few women are able to gain divorces. If they run away instead, the husband’s family often press for a conviction of extramarital sex as well, as an extra punishment, the report found.

What will enable women to gain their rights?  What cultural values support the current system, and how can they be changed?  Why is this arrangement acceptable in this country (and others)?

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