On 19 March 2015, a group of men and the local Imam in Afghanistan falsely accused a young woman by the name of Farkhunda Malikzada for going against the Qur’an and questioning the local Imam about his teachings.
He falsely accused her of burning the Qur’an. No witnesses were present to testify that she had done this. No procedure was followed through as per the legal rulings of the country. No one stopped the ferocious attacks on her.
She was brutally beaten and tortured, lit on fire, and stoned to death in front of the public. Her clothes were torn, blood pouring out of her entire body and her inability to fight for her right was stolen by a bunch of cowards who called themselves men.
This incident alone caused a public outcry until the men were captured and sentenced according to their involvement in the crime. However, the instigator who started the accusations was not even trialled.
I watched the entire incident unfold via social media and 6 years later the memory still triggers me. It triggers me for a lot of reasons but the most important one is the way she was savagely murdered for a crime that she did not even commit.
Afghanistan’s legal system is quite corrupt like most third world countries and even some developed countries like Australia. Justice is never served unless you’ve got position, power or you’re from an affluent family.
A patriarchal system that continues to demean women and disallow them to portray their voices. Let’s be honest at the end of the day it’s a man’s world.
And why wouldn’t it be a man’s world, years of cultural stigmas and misappropriations, lack of educating young men on how to respect women, and positioning women as just the homemaker and unintelligent would definitely make it man’s world.
Whilst the sentences served some kind of a “justice”, it wasn’t enough to stop the crimes from happening.
A few days ago a young 8-year-old girl was going to the local mosque to learn the Qur’an when she was brutally raped by her Qur’an teacher. She was only 8. A horrifying experience that she will now have to deal with for the rest of her life.
Her innocence was snatched away from her because of a man who had the inability to control his overly disgusting thoughts and desires. The trauma that she will now have to endure for the rest of her life particularly in a country where there is so many misconceptions and stereotypes around rape.
To place his hands over her mouth whilst raping her means that she will now have to live the rest of her life thinking that she may have been the cause of it.
Women are always sexually objectified even when you are an innocent 8-year-old girl. Women have to constantly fight for their rights in a country like Afghanistan who prides itself on having “ghayrat” (honour).
How is it possible for women to be downgraded and mistreated constantly in a country where Islam should take precedence? Because rest assured Islam does not teach these men to commit crimes against women because they are “men.”
Islam positions women in the highest regard, it has never demeaned women to a level where she does not have the ability to create her own identity. But men snatch that away from them.
That level of so-called honour is only shown towards women in countries like Afghanistan. Why don’t the men of Afghanistan stand firm against the man who brutally raped that young girl?
Why don’t they collectively get together, stone him, torture him, and brutally bash him for committing such a heinous act? Or are men exception to the rule?
Do we only allow this kind of ferocious acts to happen to women because we can?
From Farkhunda who wasn’t given the opportunity to present her case, to the perpetrator who held the young girl’s mouth so tight so no one could hear her scream, and to the family who now have to live with the trauma of what happened and listen to the constant gossip of uneducated neighbours, family, and friends.
This reality is damning for many women who live in Afghanistan because whilst it seems we are fighting for equal gender rights, better education for girls, and giving women opportunities to work, it still seems that women’s voices are no longer heard or accepted.