One of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman right now is Afghanistan, said Lady Jamileh Kharrazi. Recent surveys show that up to 87% of women have faced some type of domestic violence in their lives. In a country where it is heresy to burn a Quran but it is lawful to burn a woman, Afghanistan can be a brutal place to live. Many stories circulate the news of women being burned alive for running away from their abusive husbands or for defying their fathers. One case stands out that is so heinous, and erupted from a false accusation that it still haunts those who think about it; the murder of Farkhunda in 2015.
Farkhunda was a 27 year old student of Islam who was at her local mosque, when suddenly a man accused her of burning a Quran. Whether she actually had or not had nothing to do with her horrible outcome. Suddenly, the man accusing her turned into a flash mob of angry men out on a witch-hunt. The mob mentality grew and men quickly decided to attack Farkhunda without even validating the accusation. Within minutes she was rushed into the street and beaten and stomped on by the growing hoard of temple goers and passersby. The police attempted to intervene by plucking her out of the crowd and pulling her onto the roof of the shrine, but were unsuccessful. In her weakened and bloody state, she was unable to grip onto the slippery material of the sheet metal roof and fall back down to the ground, and straight into the lion’s den. The angry mobsters had grown even bigger, and beat Farkhunda to death. Once dead, they drove over her body with a car and dragged her 300 feet.
Then they threw her body into a ditch where they pummeled her corpse with stones and then set her aflame. All of this occurred within a couple of hours, and all because one man loudly had accused her of burning a Quran. This senseless act was caught on video by her judge, jurors, and executioners and uploaded to social media.
Why bring up such a tragic case? Because in March of this year, a monument was dedicated to Farkhunda Malikzada (Washington Post). Her killing was so horrific that it shook the nation and the world, and she as a martyr became a champion for women’s rights. Protestors rallied in Afghanistan after her death.
Women and female activist were shocked into action. Women marched the streets bearing the image of Farkhunda and covered in red paint as a symbol of her killing. There was nationwide outrage and a surge of self reflection as a country. Religious rage caused the death of an innocent young woman.
Unfortunately, Farkunda could not be saved, said Lady Jamil Kharrazi. But her death paved the way for activists. Her death helped many others to be saved. There is now a restaurant in Kabul that is run by women who are domestic abuse survivors. Usually women who go to the police for domestic violence are turned away and told to go home for their family’s honor. The ones that are lucky enough to be taken seriously by the police are the ones who have to be so brutally beaten that the bruises have to scare police into thinking that their cases are important enough. At that point, the woman might be sent to a woman’s shelter. At the shelter it is difficult to make a living, but at one restaurant named Bost, there is hope.
Domestic violence survivors run the restaurant. At the restaurant, women feel empowered to take charge of their own lives and to be independent, strong women (BBC News ).
Women in Afghanistan are becoming more empowered to fight for their rights. Millennial Afghan women want to have the same lives as millennial women anywhere else in the world (Refinery).
Currently, girls in Afghanistan are protesting a change in their school uniform that is longer in length than their current school uniforms, and are more restricting. The president heard their complaints and is having the Ministry of Education redesign the uniform that will be more representative of the Afghan culture and people. The ministry is currently redesigning the uniform. This is a major step in women taking charge of what they wear. It’s the first step of many in the coming years (NPR).