You have to try and abolish extreme violence in general not just by focusing on violence against women, For every 5 men that is extremely tortured there is one women according to statistics, Now if you keep making a case only for women, it would have negative effects with only more violence being perpetuated, the only solution is to find effective ways of reducing crimes violence in society in general.
Photograph by Lynsey Addario, National Geographic
Published February 8, 2014
National Geographic photographer Lynsey Addario says that a new Afghan law, passed by parliament and awaiting signature by President Hamid Karzai, would effectively silence victims of domestic violence.
Addario first traveled to Afghanistan 14 years ago when it was under Taliban rule and has returned every year since. Over that time, rights and protections for Afghan women have been strengthened, and many women now have access to education and jobs.
But last year, Afghanistan saw a 28 percent increase in reports of attacks against women, according to the UN, with little rise in prosecutions. And now, a small but consequential change to the criminal code could make domestic violence—already rampant in Afghanistan—nearly impossible to prosecute.
In her 2010 photo essay for National Geographic, "Veiled Rebellion," Addario bore witness to both the abuse and the progress of Afghan women.
Her photographs show women maimed by their husbands for small acts of defiance. By contrast, ebullient teachers-in-training are seen picnicking in a women's garden established by a female Afghan governor.
The groundbreaking 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) criminalized acts of child marriage, rape, and other forms of violence against women.
But laws are only as effective as their enforcement, and Addario details how the proposed new law could roll back many of the hard-won protections she's documented in recent years.
Can you tell us about this new law the Afghan parliament has passed?
Basically what it's saying is that relatives cannot testify when a woman has been assaulted or raped. Essentially what that means is that no one can testify, because a woman only sees relatives, and a woman is only seen by relatives. Often it's a family member who is perpetrating the crime, and the only other witnesses are relatives. They are the only people who would ever be privy to a woman while she was getting abused or afterwards. It's a very indirect way of saying that you can do whatever you want to the women in your family. It's essentially giving free rein to people as they'll never have to worry about prosecution.
From what you've seen in Afghanistan, what do you think that change will mean for women?
Violence is ubiquitous. I interviewed about 300 women over two years for the National Geographic story, and an extremely high percentage of them were beaten repeatedly or suffered some sort of abuse. Being beaten is pretty prevalent—it's a phenomenon that happens, I don't know why. I've often talked to my male translators about it, and they've said maybe it's a product of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] or war, or that it's a cultural thing. This law will basically mean that it happens without any repercussions at all.
What's changed since 2009—why has it gone from the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women to this?
I think rather than starting with 2009, you should start with 2000 or 2001—the war and the fall of the Taliban. There have been advances in protecting women's rights, but a lot of them are not actually put into practice. Women don't really have a place to go if they're being abused. There are women's shelters, like those run by Women for Afghan Women, but they're not universally accepted in Afghanistan, and they're constantly under threat of attack or being closed down.
If a woman's husband is beating her on a daily basis, she can't just ask for a divorce. It's not acceptable in society. And if she does ask for a divorce, often she'll be killed by her family—because it brings shame to her family—or she'll be put in prison. I've met dozens of women in prison who've done nothing more than try to ask for a divorce. The international community is going to be pulling out of Afghanistan, and Afghans need to make decisions for themselves. If these are the decisions they're making, it's pretty terrifying. It's a very scary future for women in Afghanistan.
When you're photographing women rather than men, do you work with the camera differently?
Yes. I often don't shoot very much, and I'll keep my cameras in my bag. I'll spend a lot of time talking to people and making them feel comfortable. Then I'll get their permission, and then I'll photograph. A lot of what I'm doing when the story is very sensitive is just hanging out, and then I'll photograph very sparingly.
During your most recent visit, what were the women you were photographing communicating to you? Were you ever struck by some of the things they told you, or their impressions of you as a woman photographer?
I was there in September, on a women's story that has not yet been published, so I can't really talk about it yet. But I think my lifestyle, as a Western woman, is very confusing to an Afghan woman. Afghan women rarely leave their home or venture outside. They get married and have children, and their life revolves around the home. For years when I went to Afghanistan, the only questions they would ask me were "Are you married?" and "Do you have children?" And I answered no to both of those questions for many years. They always looked at me with these very sad expressions. They thought I would be lonely.
Educated Afghans who travel understand both worlds. But I try to be very careful as a journalist, to be very mindful of their culture and their traditions. I can't really bring my perspective or my opinion and try to impose that on anyone. But if we're talking about women's human rights abuses, if we're talking about ownership of women and basically taking away the only justice they have, then I would argue the laws are condoning and perpetuating violence against women.
Do you think the law will pass?
I don't know. Human rights organizations are making their case to Karzai and asking him not to sign it. I don't know, he's pretty irreverent these days, so I'm not sure.
When you were in women's shelters, did you see extreme violence?
Yes. Unbelievable. Extreme. I've seen women who have been burned with metal. I've seen women who have been gang-raped. I've seen women who've had their noses cut off. Everything. I mean everything. I've seen things that I never imagined a human being could do to another human being, much less a woman. I used to go to shelters routinely over the years, and almost every time I would end up in tears, paralyzed by sadness. For every step forward there are ten steps back. At some point Afghans need to decide for themselves if they want to move forward. This law, essentially, rolls back all the gains that have been made in terms of protecting women.
لالم الحقيقى مش ان التقرير ده حقيقى ولا ان كل الدول العربيه والاسلاميه فيها انتهاكات بشعه لحقوق المراه واى تعيس الحظ يوضع فى موقف ضعف فى بلادنا الحزينه ((وان كانت بنسب متفاوته نظرا لاختلاف الظروف )) ........الالم الحقيقى هو محاولة ((او مش محاوله التاكد))من السبب فيما يحدث لهؤلاء .........والالم الاكبر هو الاعتراف لنفسنا ولنفسى انا شخصيا بالسبب وبالحل..........لان ده ببساطه لا يعنى الا التخلى عن كل مايفترض اننا امنا به لسنوات ..........بدون رغى او كتر كلام ....... الاجابه معروفه واحنا اللى بنخجل من مواجهة نفسنا بها ونفضل ان نسير فى دوائر من الصراع والمعاناه لن تفضى الا الى ان ابنائنا سيلعنوننا ويلعنون مبادئنا وقيمنا وكل ما امنا به يوما ويلقونه وراء ظهورهم ...........قبل ان يحدث هذا سنكون قد اضعنا حياتنا فى اتباع ما عفى عليه الزمن
انا يمكن مجرد طالبه صغيره وماليش اى تاثير على اى حد ولا اى حاجه .........لكن انا اكيد يوم ما اشوف بنتى مستقبلا فى وضع من دول ولا بتهان حقوقها وتنتهك لمجرد انها انثى فى مجتمع من الجهله البدو ..........هكون مستحليه دم اى حد تسبب فى وصول الستات فى بلدى للوضع ده
Religious and political leaders need to be held accountable for this or things will never change. They teach boys from generation to generation this is acceptable hatred towards females. If we want to do something contructive then we need to not tolerate this hatred in our societies under the flag of being deemed as 'racist' for not accepting this part of their culture and religion, and realize that womens rights are for all colours, races and creeds! Hatred towards God's/Allah's creations, "Women", is not how we should respect our creators work!
I just cant believe this is still going on in 2014. We dont know how lucky we are living in the Western World. I feel so sorry for those Afghan women when their only crime in life according to Afghan men was to be born a female! This is shocking, and they say its religious, religion has nothing to do with it! Its just pure evil brutality against females! Its got to stop!
Women are the ones from whom the next generation comes, we are the ones who bring in new life to this earth, we are the ones who run a home 24x7, we are the like flowers of a garden and we are being treated like animals, taken for granted. In my country too, such things are happening but the extremity differs. I don't see, when is that most wanted change coming. Till when this suffering will go on, no idea. Sometimes women in my country think that a wife is destined to suffer abuse from her husband and from the so called society, in the name of culture, tradition and what not. So suffer silently till you die.
Just hoping some day things might change. When ever I hear a women or a child or anyone being abused, it just shatters me, regardless of region,country or culture. I do not know what to say, humans are losing their humanity and sometimes are becoming worser than animals.
All over the world people talk about women empowerment, women education, right to vote, stop female foeticide, stop taking dowry, dowry killings and lot more. everyone is aware of everything. But, has there been any changes after all this enlightenment ?
I have seen women being abused severely, whether they are educated or uneducated, whether they come from a lower social status or upper social status. Doesn't make any difference, where ever we are, in whatever culture you are, women are women, destined to be abused, It has become like a common belief, it has become a taboo.
How many incidents happen all over the world every single minute, any one bothers. unless an incident happens with our own. And when it happens media takes it up for 1 or 2 days. it will be sung around and then it is over as if women race cease to exist, therefore problems or issues related too cease to exist.
Can't we change this idea, that women have to be abused? Can't we make this planet a better place? Can't we all live happily as a one large race? There are multitudes of other serious problems that all of us are facing and will face. Can't we stop this kind of violence towards women and concentrate on something better?
Whatever happens in this world Human Race is only responsible, and the ones who suffer most women and children. I believe all of us can do better than this.
one day, there will be a change, one day when the Afghan people realize how much they miss out in prosperty by abusing their own blood and flesh and soul.
They, the 'Afghan' patriarch's don't want things to change for women. They enjoy the control of women and girls. They enjoy the power of bullying and the cruelty of retribution for any minor slight. I really hope that reincarnation exists and there is a role reversal!
can human right organization create an international party against this act and this way we can show the Afghan government that the whole world is against this viscous act.
People are influenced by their culture, their culture influenced by their religion and their religion influenced by culture and maintained by them. When you have such a cyclic self-sustaining system and especially those that considers women as inferior and something that men should have under his control. You can't expect equal rights or respect or justice, and they will not change without external influence or reaching a situation where their culture is impossible to bear. Most of the cases it is the former.
Talan nem mindenki rajong a rozsaszin szivecsket fogo kismacis Valentin napert es a nyugati tarsadalomban sokan mellete- ellene taborba verodnek ma 14-en. Aki nem kap az azert szomoru, aki kap az meg szidja ,hogy minek is ez a nagy felhajtas... De talan ezen a napon megemlekezhetnenk azokrol a nokrol is akiknek nem ez a legnagyobb problemaja. Akiket tizenevesen ferjhez kenyszeritenek,csonkitanak es vernek nap mint nap. Akik nem olyan szerencsesek mint mi, akik tenyleg nem unnepelnek Valentin napot! A fonti kepen lathato Afgan lanyt 12 eves koraban ferjhez adtak akit folyamatosan vert a ferje, ezert elszokott de ferje megtalalta es ezert levagta fuleit es orrat.kessobb az Usaba menekult es ott probaljak helyreallitani az arcat....A lanyoknak,noknek se parvalasztashoz,tanulashoz,feljelentheshez, valashoz nincs joga. Lenyegeben szinte az elethez sincs! Es ezek az esetek minden naposak... Talan megsem olyan szornyu ezek utan a rozsaszin felhobe csomagolt szivecskes csillamos rozsacsokoros Valentin nap, csak elfelejtettuk ertekelni, hogy kitol van es miert... /;
What this article and most people commenting fail to understand is that extremism breeds extremism. In other words, this problem is not because "Afghans are extreme misogynists", but it is that when a society endures decades of war, it becomes almost impossible to build stable and humane institutions. The extremity of the suffering experienced in war exacerbates any existing problems in a society and stunts its development. The potential for misogyny is inherent in ALL human societies, and such traits become more deeply entrenched when a culture perceives itself to be threatened from the outside. Think about it this way: say you believe you have a right to own a gun. Then someone from another country comes to your house and threatens to kill you and your family unless you give up your gun. Are you more likely to a) give up your gun without a fight, or b) defend your right to do what you believe is within your rights. Since Afghan society has been defending itself from outside invaders for nearly two centuries, it is reasonable to assume that some of the more extreme elements of its culture such as misogyny have become more deeply entrenched as a result.
Rather than simply decry and denounce such actions as barbaric (which they are), try to understand that without war imposed on them by foreign imperialist groups vying for domination over the region (going as far back as 1839), Afghan society would have been in a much better position to develop organically and peacefully under its own terms. We don't see any NatGeo articles decrying American drone strikes that kill civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia. We don't see anything condemning the American bombing of countless countries over the last 50 years. It is always someone else who is at fault, some other culture or country whose actions are barbaric and violent. We rarely admit responsibility for our own wrongdoing, but jump at every chance to demonize the transgressions of others.
By failing to understand the context and demonizing those who commit atrocities we project responsibility onto others, when, in reality, humanity as a whole is responsible for what occurs on this planet.
... ive seen pictures of Afghanistan from the 50's and 60's where women were sent to school..wore conventional clothes....had professions like doctors..teachers....only to find themselves in this century, for pete's sake..covered..sheltered...married off as children... abused by men who are supposed to be protecting them...... and now a law that will not allow relatives to stand as witness in court to these atrocities...! I am very indignant about this recent change for the worst...... in a system.... and a culture that seems to allow for the injustice to go on.... *sniff*
Thank you for sharing this. I think one of the best things we can do is educate people to what is going on. It's easy to dismiss things like this when it's not in front of your face. The world needs to stand up and put pressure Afghanistan to change their ways.
Are there not Human Laws? Slavery was abolished years ago, these women are nothing more than slaves to the male population. An entire country went to war, the North against the South and many gave their lives to give the slaves basic Human Rights.......are these women not worthy of the same rights? Will their own country not fight for them?
Are the Afgans human beings of the present day world ? I cannot imagine such barbaric acts by a human towards another human. The INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY should wage a war not only to establish peace in Afganistan but to restore HUMAN values there by destroying the Taliban and their barbaric law.
it's a pity and so shame this is happening in all the countries , not to mention : rape, corruption, violence, war, kidnaps, pollution, starving, desertification.......many problems and we are against all that.
we need experts, awareness, help, volunteers,
we need to be human, to respect the differences, to respect others believes , decisions and ideas.....
we need to serve and love each others without expecting anything in return
we need to have civic and environment education
we need peace in sole, peace of mind, .....world peace
Peshwaz, you are right in that violence against women happens in every country but I don't see why it's unfair to report on extreme cases. The article mostly talks about physical violence. Afghanistan is also one of the worst offenders in the world when you include psychological violence and arbitrary deprivations of liberty. Women are unequal members of society in Afghanistan and that is why physical violence is so prevalent. It is a disgrace how women are treated there
violence against women exists in every country, for example 1 out of every 4 girls in america are statistically raped, now to go around a country that you have occupied for 13 years and have continuously bombed and a another 10 years from the Russians and report on extreme cases of violence and pretend that your some civilized person is really sick, shame on all of you, for your lack of humanity,
I am so sorry for this terrible thing to have happened to this woman. God forbid these atrocities. Thank you for protection and mercy and guidance and providence. Forbid these God. Please.
There should be a concerted effort to round up all afghan females and relocate them to other countries where they are safe from the torture they suffer in their own country. Leave the men to fend for themselves and maybe they'll realize what ignorant idiots they are.
@Mona Sauer There is one it's called the Human Rights Organization and the UN. But won't work as long as the UN is controlled by 5 countries to do as they please. If UN has to have true meaning the 5 superpower position must be dissolved along with their veto power.
Dear Vineeth ,
Such a barbaric act can only be committed by culture. Islam never ever preaches such a thing like men under control..and women being inferior. Islam severely condemns such acts. Islam gives equal rights to both men and women. This is a huge misunderstanding that the world has.. and the phase 'culture influenced by their religion' can never be applicable. This is such a horrific thing. How can one state that a religion can preach people to commit such things? Did u read it anywhere???
@N A what a sad justification for atrocities which are not exclusive to Afghan women. There has always been a stinking attitude towards women and children before there there was Big Bad Wolf Uncle Sam. Afghanistan and Pakistan don't need America to bomb and kill, they are doing it to themselves. Misogyny - a result of foreign domination? So laughable. But if it makes you feel better by all means, but please, deal with the issue- violence against women and children occur in places where America never touched.
@N A would you elaborate the point you are trying to make by 'gun theory'.
It's right that afghans have been fighting against foreign for a long time now and It may account for their aggression against western culture but I don' t see how that justifies the misogyny.
@N A you are darn right, sir (or ma´m).
@Joy Flores War changes things for better or for worse. Afgahnistan just didn't get the better from the war, instead they were pushed more backwards. Afghanistan was once regarded as a jewel of Asia now people just don't seem to talk anything good about it.
here's a video you should refer plus the uploader's thoughts.
@Linda Holland This is exactly wrong. This article is misleading in numerous ways. And 'the world' (Russian, British, American governments) putting pressure on Afghanistan is exactly what has been happening for nearly two centuries, and is the main cause of the problems the Afghan people endure today. Please understand the history of the situation before judging Afghanistan as a whole.
If you really want to help, educate yourself about the history of your own governments actions in other countries. If you are American, read up on what the American military and intelligence agencies actually DO (not what politicians SAY they do) in executing its foreign policy objectives. Hint: it involves covert action, bombing, assassinations, overthrowing democratically elected governments, support of brutal dictatorships, training death squads in torture and assassination techniques, support of terrorist groups to destabilise governments etc.)
Here are a few links to get you started:
This is not to say that the USA is the 'cause' of all the problems in the world. I simply wish to point out that most Americans believe that their government, while it may make mistakes from time to time, is essentially pursuing the noble goals of peace, freedom and democracy around the world, when in fact, the goal is simply 'full-spectrum dominance', regardless of the social or environmental costs.
@Dibakar Swain "Many rural Afghans have come to trust the Taliban's extensive judicial network over government courts to "solve disputes in a fair war, without tribal or ethnic bias, or more commonly, without having to pay bribes". "Ordinary people turned to Taliban courts in search of justice less corrupt than the system imposed by outsiders." says Graeme Smith, a Kabul- based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.
women were not prone to rape in times of taliban like they do now.
do you know that the U.S. and NATO forces wiped out villages in Afghanistan, Do you know that these forces you support still bomb these innocent afghans during weddings because they accuse them with the Taliban when they're not, most people who die in these wedding are mostly children and women and their numbers of deaths sometimes tops 100,
If you tell me the Taliban had no human rights then even the current government dosent have human rights too because they kill & rape the same women for whom they show so much concern..
Do, go with what media tells you, look at facts..
@Dibakar Swain wage a war so they stop killing each other... yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Hey... doesn't war mean more people will die?! You know, I guess it's because of people who think like you that all this happens. "Ah, she insulted me, I'll cut her nose off so she doesn't dare do that again!". See the similarities?
@Dibakar Swain you keep lord Buddha as your profile picture and go on talking about waging war. Wow you are quite the follower of buddhism.
@Dibakar Swain Wage a war to kill people so we can stop barbarism? You're an idiot.
@Monica Luchak I don't think that it would be best to criticize whole afgani people for that. I hate those people who don't respect humanity, but blaming the entire nation for some of it's citizen's crime is not a wise thing to do. Changes come with time and time alone heals the rest.
I hope you understand that she is actually trying to help. Yes, violence against women does exist, do you know why? It's because most are busy blaming or spotting mistakes of others to hide themselves from shame. It's not okay to ignore a problem; it's not okay to be cowards and not fight against injustice.
@Peshwaz Waise Shame on you, at least she is doing something about this tragedy, and you?
@Peshwaz Waise Shame on you, at least she is doing something about this tragedy, and you? lack of humanity? you are soooo stupid.
@charlene jessamine I am not a French woman, but I am an American, and that was my thought exactly! Move the women and their children out of that country. Then I thought they should also burn it to the ground and start all over again..., and put a female government in place!
@Jean Smith The problem though is that most of them will never leave their homes, their country, because it is part of their culture, their upbringing and and their very being. These women love family and their husbands even if they are being treated like animals by the people who should be reciprocating the love they are giving. It is really ironic that love is hurting these women, it just breaks hearts.
The Koran has been translated into at least 200 languages. Many, many "infidels' have read it. It is no longer possible for individuals like yourself to assure "infidels" that Islam gives equal rights to men and women when Islam's holy book clearly does the opposite.
I repeat: We "infidels" have read your Koran and it is obvious that Islam enforces the subservient, second-class inferior status of women and girls.
The Koran itself would be enough proof of Islam's backward, primitive subjugation of women and girls. However, when "infidels" are made aware of the cruel, brutal, and primitive treatment of women and girls who live in the Islamic world, the facts of Islam's injustice against the female half of humanity becomes even more horribly obvious.
I repeat: We read Koran and there is no way to deny how lsam's holy book denigrates women and girls. We observe how women and girls suffer in the Islamic world, which is proof that where Islam dominates, women and girls are cruelly subjugated.
If Islam was against this practice it would not happen. Islam forms the culte and the government. Look at how all Islamic women are treated. Like property. Despicable...
@Andrei Mihalache Thank you.
Unfortunately, people reading this and sharing it believe they are learning about the world and sharing important information, but the perspective this article and the countless others like it put forward is misguided and far too narrow. This kind of 'journalism' perpetuates intercultural misunderstanding and the selective remembering of history, to the disservice of humanity and the benefit of a select few who profit from war and human servitude.
@Saugat Khadka if only this were an isolated case...one out of a hundred..but we all know that this is a norm in their culture.....so yes, i will put the blame on the whole afghan nation for allowing this to go on...... A LAW is being passed.....that involves a country's legislation....so tell me now? should we not blame the whole country for this?
@Deanna Drost @charlene jessamine That is so unfeasible... And also the "burn it to the ground" part... so civilized, way to go... Trying to let people know of the atrocities happening there and trying to help and protect the victims is one thing, but suggesting more violence should be used to remedy things is just wrong.
@Laura Wrzeski @Manognya Chakrapani I believe what happened in middle eastern women is the case of their culture, not their religion (Islam). If you want to know how moslems should treat their women, come to Indonesia, The biggest moslems population in the world.
And you said you've read Quran? please tell me which Surah or Ayah that said how moslems should treat their women?
because what I know, after 24 years being a moslem, we must treat women as our precious thing. Men only more superior from women on the case of their fragility, women more fragile than men that's why men should protect their women, not the opposite (being protected by women). on the rest of the cases, women and men have the same position in their public order.
@Rebecca Merritt @N A @Linda Holland Women in the US may not have their noses or ears cut off but misogyny is just as prevalent here. The grim fact is that women who are brutally raped almost never see justice done.
Women in abusive relationships are beaten repeatedly and while the abuser may go to jail for a few days the abusers return more determined to punish. Everyday there are stories on the news chronicling events where this person or that went on a murder spree because they wanted to kill the wife, the ex-wife, the mother-in-law, the new boyfriend. Most stay and take the abuse to protect their children or their families who are often threatened with death by the abusers. The few brave enough to prosecute find that our legal system sets them up to fail. Even when the abuser attempted to murder their victim, the victims often find themselves in prison for having the audacity to defend themselves if the abuser dies in the struggle.
That said, Afghanistan has not developed organically and unfortunately, as always happens in wild west societies women and children often become the targets of uber violent behavior. It just so happens that in this case an antiquated and perverted version of Islam has become the excuse used to justify inhumane behavior.
@Joy Flores Yes the law you say has been passed through the parliament but it will not officially be effective until the president signs it. I also know that this gives a huge boost to the people involved in women abuse. I'm not saying that i support it, like you I'm also against such inhumane practice. But if you become rational and think about it Afghanistan would not want more trouble from the international community so i don't think that the president would do such a thing as legalizing domestic violence. There is a saying in my country 'Some people strike their own foot with an axe', i don't suppose that he is stupid enough to do that. Furthermore Afghanistan has also signed EVAW law
you could find it here. it's progress is slow but atleast it is in effect. As i told earlier change is not drastic it takes time. some may take less time whereas others may take more. You should not only see the negative in things. A glass whose half is filled with water is half empty as well as half full.
the main thing which has caused this all is the lack of education, the only reason for that is the cold war and foreign interference. if you look at the current scenario of the world then you will see that maximum of the countries with foreign interference are suffering from the same crisis.
Feed the World
How do we feed nine billion people by 2050, and how do we do so sustainably?
We've made our magazine's best stories about the future of food available in a free iPad app.
Latest From Nat Geo
These cooing Casanovas use showstopping plumage to court females and fend off rivals.
Meet a trapper who keeps Florida's streets, sewers, and Kennedy Space Center alligator free.