KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): A lot of work is still required to be done to improve women’s situation in southern Kandahar province where efforts in this regard during the 16 years have little impact.
Women’s living standard in Kandahar City, the provincial capital, is somehow improved, but in districts and far-flung areas even primary facilities are not available for women.
Women have long been deprived of education facilities while educated women are rarely offered job opportunities in the absence of marketplace for women’s handicraft.
In addition, family violence is termed a big issue and some women are still subjected to violence and unfair treatment at homes.
Violence against women:
Over 200 incidents of violence against women have been registered with the Kandahar Women’s Affairs Department and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) happening this year, showing a surge compared to last year.
Women’s Affairs Director Ruqia Achakzai said most of the women in Kandahar endured family violence and 80 percent of these women lived in districts.
“Murder, self-burning, denial of hereditary rights, elopement, pre-adult and forced marriages and other incidents are forms of the violence committed against women.”
AIHRC director in Kandahar Fakhruddin Faez said more cases of violence against women were registered each year. “Two things matter here — awareness among women about their rights that has gone up and increase in incidents of violence against women,” he said.
He said it was a fact that women faced violence in Kandahar and the fact should be admitted and more work done to reduce the level of violence against the gender.
Raziqa, 40, a victim of family violence, is .the resident of the second municipality district of Kandahar City. She said her husband would enter a dispute with her on small issues and finally set her alight. She recovered after months of treatment and separated from her husband after the incident.
Razeqa is currently living with her young son and works at people’s homes as maid to earn alimony. She said she knew other women subjected to similar treatment but she could not raise her voice for them.
Apart from domestic violence, another big issue women face in Kandahar is the lack of health facilities. The Women’s Affairs Department director said women in districts suffered the most due to the lack of health issues.
She said women were evacuated to health facilities only after their condition reached a dangerous level. In most districts, she said, clinics were not available and some families refused to take their woman patients to these clinics, endangering their lives.
Kandahar public health acting director, Dr. Mohammad Azim Zamaryal, told Pajhwok that special maternity hospitals had been constructed in other zones of the country; but unfortunately not in Kandahar.
He said currently a maternity ward was operational at the Mirwais Hospital of Kandahar but it couldn’t cope with the increasing patients.
According to him, the Mirwais Hospital functioned on the southern zone level and its maternity ward was overcrowded compared to other wards. He said patients weren’t offered proper health services due to lack of facilities.
Mirwais Hospital maternity ward head, Dr. Farishta Bawar, said they struggled with space shortage, facilities and personnel in dealing with childbirths.
However, she said despite all these issues they were able to manage 52 births on a daily basis including at least five C-section deliveries. She asked the central government to pay serious to women’s healthcare and increase health facilities for them.
The women’s affairs director, Ruqia Achakzai, said girls did not go to school in districts except those near Kandahar City. “This is a big tragedy of our society.”
She said even some families in Kandahar City allowed their girls to attend school only until they reached adolescence and then restricted to home.
“About 30 percent of the girl students remain inside school in Kandahar and more than 4,000 girls are annually forced into leaving school by their families.”
According to her, such issues have a negative impact on girls’ education, preventing them from pursuing higher education.
Kandahar education director Eng. Abdul Qadar Piwastoon said nearly 13,000 girls were admitted to schools annually in Kandahar, but most of them later opted to drop out leaving their studies incomplete.
He said there were many issues preventing girls from getting education in Kandahar where he said only 200 girls graduated from 12th grade ever year.
No 12th grade girl graduate in 17 districts
In the past 16 years, not even a single girl could become a high school graduate in 17 districts of Kandahar mainly because of no female teachers.
Deputy women’s affairs director Lailuma Noori acknowledged the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was yet to deliver on its repeated promise of establishing a special market for women’s handicrafts in the province
She told Pajhwok fortunately with her department’s efforts a local trader allocated his business market’s one floor to women’s handicrafts in the Aino Mena area of Kandahar city.
Noori said about 60 shops would be given to women free of rent for one year in order they were able to improve their crafts. She said if this happened, women would be finally able to pay rents after one year.