I am caged in this corner
full of melancholy and sorrow …
my wings are closed and I cannot fly …
I am an Afghan woman and so must wail.
– Nadia Anjuman, Afghan poet, murdered by her husband in 2005.
One hundred and sixty-five. That’s how many Afghan women set themselves on fire in 2007. It’s a desperate act that reflects the desperate lives of women in Afghanistan, whose plight is getting worse.
The outrages make for a long list: Child-selling for marriages is rampant, and many of the new brides haven’t even reached their 10th birthday. In prisons and “shelters” women are raped by guards and government officials. Afghan women suffer from one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates: 1 in 9 women die during childbirth. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where the suicide rate is higher for women than for men…and on and on.
Those who speak out, or even raise questions, face harsh punishment. Sayad Kambaksh, 23-year-old journalism student, was recently sentenced to death after a trial that lasted just four minutes. His crime? Downloading an article about women’s rights that was deemed blasphemous to Islam by the judges.
All of this is upheld by a government that is defended, funded, and propped up by NATO countries, Canada included.