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Threatened, Thrashed And Raped : Afghanistan’s Invisible Taliban Child Brides and Widows are Trapped in Sex Slavery

Child and forced marriage are outlawed but remain common in Afghanistan, particularly among poor families eager for dowries

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Taliban
Child and forced marriages are a common practice among the Islamist Taliban. VOA
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  • Child and forced marriage remain a common practice in Afghanistan, particularly among poor families in lure of dowries.
  • Young child brides of Islamist Taliban are denied educated and are often treated as sex slaves
  • After the death of their militant husbands, Taliban widows are shunned by their family and society alike and remain beyond the reach of government aids

London, August 24, 2017: Fatima’s Taliban husband was so controlling that he refused to allow her to bathe and threatened to burn her face if she dared wear makeup, suspicious that his 12-year-old Afghan wife was trying to make herself attractive to other men.

He would not let her step outside their home in Afghanistan’s western Farah Province, even when she fell sick, and beat her for burning her hand baking bread, complaining that her mother had taught her nothing to justify the dowry he paid.

“My father sold me to a man at a time when I didn’t know anything about the responsibilities of marriage,” she told Reuters in a phone interview from the capital, Kabul, where she and her young daughter are hiding.

“He became my lawful husband and began to rape me and beat me every single day for not consenting [to sex],” said the 18-year-old, who would not give her full name.

Child and forced marriage are outlawed but remain common in Afghanistan, particularly among poor families eager for dowries.

Half of all girls are married by the age of 15.

ALSO READ: Ghana Chooses Girls Over Brides, Launches ‘End Child Marriage’ Campaign

Among the most invisible victims are the wives of Islamist Taliban hardliners who, when in power, barred women from education and most work and ordered them to wear burqas outside the home, before being overthrown in 2001 by U.S.-led forces.

“Being family members of the most dangerous and ruthless fighters who have plenty of enemies among the people makes it difficult for these women,” said Shukria Barakzai, a parliamentarian and women’s rights campaigner. “They are treated as sex slaves and left completely helpless.”

Taliban child brides
Taliban women are denied access to education or work and are ordered to wear burqas and stay inside houses. VOA

Agonized, emboldened

When their militant husbands die, life often gets worse for young Taliban brides. Their families are too scared to take them in, society treats them as pariahs, and they risk further violent abuse as unprotected single women.

About a year into their marriage, Fatima’s 25-year-old husband — she calls him a “veteran criminal” with stockpiles of ammunition in their home — blew up a police officer and was jailed for 18 years.

He was released in late 2016, after serving just four years — a common phenomenon in Afghanistan, where the Taliban often hold influence over the government.

But he never came home.

His brothers told Fatima they believed he had sacrificed himself in a suicide attack and become a martyr.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, estimates that several hundred women become Taliban widows each year.

“My brother-in-law was planning to force me to marry him and sell my four-year-old daughter to a Taliban commander,” she said, referring to the dowry that would be paid for her child.

“This evil plan agonized me and at the same time emboldened me to run away, regardless of the consequences.”

Under the pretext of attending a village wedding with her mother-in-law, Fatima ran away with her child.

Her father would not take her in, but her cousins helped her get to Kabul.

“Every one of my in-laws is a Taliban member and they vowed to slay my whole family to bring justice,” she said.

To the Taliban, justice means killing Fatima and her family for the shame she brought by running away from home.

Taliban widows and child brides
Tliban widows continue to remain outside the reach of government and rights groups to seek support. VOA

Jihadis in training

Zari, another Taliban widow, who was forcibly married at the age of 14, was not so lucky.

Three years after her husband died in a suicide attack, she remains trapped in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, tormented by his cousins who rape her repeatedly and are raising her sons, aged nine and 11, to become jihadis.

The men, who are members of the Taliban, come to the house where she lives with her elderly mother-in-law a couple of times a week to rape her, threatening to kill her if she tells anyone.

“I urge the government to rescue me and my sons as their future is in grave danger,” the 26-year-old, who declined to give her real name, said in a phone interview.

“They plan to send both of my sons to Pakistan to participate in jihad. … They take my elder son for religious indoctrination and training to become a militant like his father.”

Neither the government nor rights groups can access Taliban widows living with their in-laws in remote, rebel-controlled territory. Conflict makes it impossible for them to provide for themselves, forcing them to live with their in-laws.

Neither boy goes to school because Zari cannot afford books or uniforms with the money she earns weaving or from her cows.

“I want to escape with my sons, but my family is not ready to accept me and jeopardize themselves,” she said, adding that her family did not know they were marrying her into the Taliban.

ALSO READ: Taliban Terrorist Group behead 30-year-old Afghan Woman for Divorcing Husband and living with another Man

Afghanistan has about 5 million widows, said a spokeswoman for the women’s affairs ministry, Kobra Rezai. It can only afford to provide about 100,000 of them with about $100 a month in financial support and skills training, she said.

None are Taliban widows.

The government does not want to be seen to be supporting them, Rezai said, a position condemned by Barakzai, the parliamentarian.

“Circumstances push [Taliban widows] into a precarious position and compel them to continue their lives as sex slaves in the hands of Taliban,” she said. “Even their children have no way out of this vicious trap.” (VOA)

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7 new-age social issues in India that needs a check

Since decades, we people are countering issues like poverty, illiteracy, child marriage, caste system, gender inequality and endless to count further.

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India has become a hub of ever growing social issues
India has become a hub of ever growing social issues

NEW DELHI: Indian being a land of diverse culture and heritage does have a very complex society. People from all around the globe visited India and shared their traditional values. Thus, India did inherit a lot of ethnic varieties in the span of its thousands of years.

These all things make India a strong hold for people of diverse belief, languages, and colour. And at the same time also makes India a happening and vibrant place to live. But at the same time, it also makes us vulnerable to many kinds of social issues and problems. Due to the blind and adamant beliefs of people on their religion and caste, contradictory ideas are meant to creep into the society.

Since decades, we people are countering issues like poverty, illiteracy, child marriage, caste system, gender inequality and endless to count further. But with the changing scenario and thought process of our society, many more new problems have made their way into our lives. Such things are the real evil for our advancement and growth.
Let’s take a view on some of such issues, that we need to take up seriously before it becomes too late to act upon.

Triple Talaq
The whole Muslim community has been following the very notion of Triple Talaq since long and the Muslim women were the one to face the heat of such a ritual.

The three different types of Talaq in the Muslim society are Talaq –e-Ahsan , Talaq-e- Hasan and Talaq –e- Biddat. From all of these three talaqs, the Talaq –e- Biddat was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme court on 22nd August 2017. In Talaq –e- Biddat, if the husband says Talaq three types in one go, then the Talaq becomes irrevocable.

After this verdict, for the very first time, Muslim women came in full force to stand against this discrimination against them. Even Triple Talaq has banned n 22 Muslim countries all over the world.

Indian sex ratio is drastically declined due to girl infanticide. Wikimedia Commons
Indian sex ratio is drastically declined due to girl infanticide. Wikimedia Commons

Girl Infanticide
The urge of having a boy in India has taken a very spine-chilling consequence on the female population of our country. Haryana tops the chart of such a shameful practice, which is being exercised over the decades in our so-called democratic nation. Due to it, other social issues like sex determination have made their way into our society.

To counter such an adversary, the government launched a scheme called, ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and made stringent laws to tackle crimes like these. The result of girl infanticide can be well gauged by taking a note of the figures of sex ratio of India.

 

Infant mortality rate
India’s run just behind China in terms of the population also makes us more open to the risks of childbirth. Most of such death takes place due to negligence or insufficient mean to cater the needs of a newborn. Also, the lack of proper vaccination goes equally into the list of things directly responsible for high infant mortality rate in India.

To quote the very recent example of Max Hospital in Delhi, where a newborn child was declared dead without proper checks by the hospital authorities. But later the child was found to be alive, only to last another week due to infection and lack of timely attention.

Such cases bring our attention to the laid-back approach of few people of our society and thus calls for strict action against social issues like this.

Juvenile Crimes
Another gruesome social issue to be nipped in its bud is Juvenile Crime. In the last half decade, this issue has wreaked havoc in the Indian society. The crimes committed by minors have increased many folds due to many reasons like illiteracy, poverty and their peer’s ignorant attitude. Another crucial reason that can be taken into account is the migration of people from urban areas to rural places. Due to this, it has become really hard for even state administration to keep a check on each and every one.

The biggest example of Juvenile crimes in recent times can be related to Nirbhaya incident, where among all the culprits, one was a Juvenile. It was after this incident only; laws were amended to punish such convicts.

Violence against women
India is a male dominant society has always shunned women of their rights and privileges. Women were barred from all the opportunities and were confined to the four walls of the house. Even today, the birth of a girl is not celebrated in many places of India. They have become a regular subject of physical and mental torture.

Their personal freedom is into shamble till date. They are thoroughly scrutinized about their movement and clothes. Some of the social issues that are been constantly inflicted upon them are dowry harassment, domestic violence, female infanticide, sexual harassment etc.

Dowry system
The term dowry goes back to the times when it was known by the name of ‘Kanyadan’. Kanyadan was a practice followed by the bride’s family, where there used to be a gift, ornaments, money, and property was given to the groom’s family. It was done in order to please the groom so that he could take proper care of her better half.

But with the traction of time, Kanyadan has remodeled into dowry. The modern-day dowry is seen as a sin our society due to the brutal consequences of it in our society. Nowadays, it has been become a practice to extort money by hiding behind the curtains of social stigma. In India, almost 10 thousand women lose their life due to this unfortunate repercussion of dowry system.

Social issues like reservation has handicapped the flow of development in India
Social issues like reservation has handicapped the flow of development in India

Reservation
A democratic country which boasts about equal rights privileges doesn’t qualify for it. The concept of reservation is a bane rather than a boon for a society like India. Reservation is a kind of roadblock for equal opportunities which are mentioned in the constitution of India.

This system was brought into place in order to uproot the menace of the caste system in India. As some sections of the society were being ill-treated by others. So, to balance the things out, the concept of the reservation was introduced. But today, it has become a hindrance to achieving a uniform growth in all spheres of work.