Conditions that predominate the lives of women in Afghanistan and Russia

By Priya Chetty on September 24, 2014

Muslim woman in Afghanistan remain to be much in the state of extreme terror as is evident from the case of Sohaila, who had received 100 lashes in a dilapidated sports stadium in Kabul in  1998 in front of thirty thousand boys and men who gathered to watch the act (Ahmad, 2012). Sohaila’s crime was decided of adultery, as she was spotted walking with a man who wasn’t a relative. It is to be noted that since Sohaila was unmarried her punishment was limited to flogging; had Sohaila been married, her punishment would have been public stoning to death. In one of her articles, journalist Sayantani Dasgupta (At, 2011) shows that the lives of the Russian women is much liberated as compared to an Afghan women as they are allowed to participate in dance, learn various skills and also earn a living for them, which the Afghan woman is totally denied at. It is evident that the Russian women ever since the emancipation of Serfdom has been exercising almost equal rights in the society as does her male counterpart (Dasgupta, 2012).

In the present world scenario, where a woman is all verbose about what she wants from her life, her education, career, ambitions, partner preferences the Russian woman is nowhere behind in stating her terms about a healthy survival. There are conventions like International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that asks to eliminate all kinds of discriminations against women (Anonymous, n.d.). Where as in Afghanistan there are no laws found to protect the rights and healthy survival of Afghan women.

Like the captive life of an Afghan Muslim woman, Russian women can earn independent wages (Lewis & Lockhead, 2005). They have the liberty to dress fashionably, attend dances, buy books, and engage in other entertainment activities, which the women in Islam are strictly prohibited from exercising (Milani, n.d.). It is evident from the severe lives these women are made to live, with no provision for education strictly, getting them married at anearly age, and the subsequent post marital tortures they have to face is one of extreme physical and emotional tumult, that leaves these girls absolutely psychotic (Nordberg, 2015).

Upbringing of the girls in Afghanistan and Russia

More than 85% of girls and women in Afghanistan receive no formal education and remain illiterate (Nordland, n.d.). Of the total number of children an Afghan woman bears in her womb, only 6 in an average are born alive. 1 child out of every 10 don’t live to see their fifth birth anniversary and women have a life expectancy of 51 (Qazi, 2011). Most of the Afghan girls are married off or given engagement to by the time they are 12 years old. Almost 60% of these girls are married off by 16 years, with more than 80% in the rural and poor areas. These marriages are either arranged by the families or forced on these girls (Nordland, n.d.).

Most of the young girls are married off to old men, some aged 60, whom these girls have met for the first time during their wedding. Some of these girls are traded into marriage to settle a dispute or as debt payments (Nordberg, 2015). Also because of the widespread poverty, the parents are compelled to marry their daughters off to avoid the caring cost of these children. The wealthier and older husbands give a large price to marry a girl of half their age (Nordberg, 2015). In Kabul, it is very common for young girls getting admitted in the hospitals having serious kinds of physical injuries and in total psychological trauma shortly within their marriage (Nordberg, 2015).

Whereas in Russia, there is the essential requirement of investing in the formal education and equal employment opportunities so that economic growth is sustained. Girls come up with better average grades, often are found outnumbering boys in their graduations (Qazi, 2011). Schools are found adopting policies that address the stereotyping in training and education choices. There are efforts of gearing the teaching materials, curriculum as well as training policies so that gender stereotyping can be avoided, and also to encourage a better balance, female roles are endorsed in those professions mainly dominated by men (Star, 2011).

Although Russia too had faced very tough times once during the Two World Wars and again when USSR broke into 6 different countries, the social condition of the women, in particular was not of disgrace or subdued (Kozyrytska, n.d.). Women of Russia during the First World War had to undertake huge responsibilities of both rearing their children and family while their husbands were away fighting the war. However, women were given equal opportunity as men, with equal wages both the genders, to work in the office and earn for her family (Armstrong, n.d.). Women were allowed to own properties, choose their life partners and also divorce them if they did not find the relationship compatible. With the socio-economic-political scenario being really poor, the gender equality and fairness was still maintained (Rosslyn & Tosi, 2007).

Cultural differentiation around women in Afghanistan and Russia

As Abdullah Qazi puts it, there were important contributions made by the women of Afghanistan in the history of freeing the country from invaders like Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Mughals, Persians, Indians, the British, Soviet Union, and currently the NATO coalition troops. However, none of it has been recorded in history (Nordland, n.d.). There are umpteen women who gave their lives defending invaders, as well as risking themselves to severe punishments in attempting to educate the women of next generation (Rosslyn & Tosi, 2007).

Russia too experienced internal wars, political conflicts that affected the entire country severely and the impact of the two World Wars. During the two World Wars, there was huge loss of revenue in the country and women had to work in different shifts in factories and offices, leaving their children as men were deployed for the war. There were opportunities, however for these women to earn equal wages as their male counterparts and enjoy those privileges that the working men were privileged with (Rosslyn & Tosi, 2007).

In Russian women, there was not much evidence of a strict dress code on women and they were allowed to mingle with the outer world without the fear of being punished or subjugated to inhuman tortures. However, the married women in Russia were expected to of unlimited obedience to her husband and needed taking permission to get a job, international passport or education which would require her in staying fifteen miles away from her husband’s residence (Mojab, 2014).

Situations in Afghanistan and Russia when the girls turn into women

There are instances reported regularly in various newspapers about young girls hardly 10-11 years old being brutally raped by much older men in Afghanistan (“Women’s Human Rights Resources – Women in Afghanistan,” n.d.). Most of the time these girls then face honor killing or are married off to these rapists who are sometimes 3 times their age or more(“Women’s Human Rights Resources – Women in Afghanistan,” n.d.).

Recent reports state that though human trafficking is the most common in almost all parts of the world, it has found a high access in the Soviet Union in the last decade owing to the decline in economic situations as well as the transnational crime and corruption explosion. Most of the Russian women, owing to the lacking economic opportunity in Russia, look for work overseas (At, 2011). Some of them lead a healthy life, there are mostly those leading a decent life and sometimes forced into slavery.

Though there are cases of oppression and torture towards women in both the countries, Russian women are found in a more privileged position due to the predominant liberal culture. Whereas the women in Afghanistan have been totally deprived of their basic freedom ever since the Taliban rule (Rosslyn & Tosi, 2007). There are women from Afghanistan along with the international communities who are trying to rehabilitate the lives of the women by giving them access to education and other basic facilities.