By Rohulah Arman (translated by RAWA)
Kundoz: 'The last day she came to the school, instead of answering the questions, in her Chemistry exam paper she wrote that she would never come to school again', says Frohar about the late Farida.
A student of class tenth at Khadijatulkobra high school, located in the center of Kundoz province, Frohar was class-fellow and best friend of 18 year old Farida who has committed suicide on July 11, 2007.
RAWA Video Clip of self-immolations in Afghanistan
Frohar told Pajhwok News that Farida was time and again complaining about conflicts and problems in her family while saying that one day, in order to get rid of these problems, she would put end to her life. Her threat became a reality when Farida took dozens of malaria tablets to bid this world a farewell.
Faroha says Farida was a well-mannered and talented person with 'hands working wonders with tailoring and embroidery' but she was seeking advice from her close friends and school teachers regarding the solution to her family conflict.
Drying her tears, shed for Farida, with her white scarf Frohar sobbed: 'No one helped Farida and suicide was the only way left for her'.
A teacher at Khadijatulkobra School, at the condition of anonymity, said the conflict between her parents and her fiancé's family cost her life.
According to this teacher, Farida was engaged to her cousin, a match made by her father one-and-a-half year ago. The boy's questionable character made Fardida's father reconsider this match since this man was also threatening Farida's family.
When contacted, Mohammad Yasin, Farida's father, did not comment. However, Nihzat Pashton, head teacher at Khadijtulkubra high school, commented that the school administration discussed the problem with Farida's father and her fiancé's father many times but in vain.
According to Mrs. Nihzat, after taking pills Farida, pale and sick, came to school where she fainted in the class-room and expired later on at the hospital she was rushed to. Nihzat blames such family troubles for a number of suicides while adding, 'Farida was ready to face any hardship as far as her own self was concerned but could not bear her family honor destroyed'.
Nihzat says Farida is not the only unfortunate case. 'Only last month, Soraya, another class ten student attempted suicide since she was being tortured by her father. Fortunately, her life was saved as she was rushed to hospital in time'.
She regrets that parents, government officials, human rights organizations and activists do not pay attention to such issues. She thinks human rights commission was putting salt into people's wounds instead of healing them. According to her, 20 days before the incident of suicide, Farida and her father approached the human rights office but they did nothing to help them. 'This office better close down', she added.
- 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate
- 30 percent of girls have access to education in Afghanistan
- 1 in every 3 Afghan women experience physical, psychological or sexual violence
- 44 years is the average life expectancy rate for women in Afghanistan
- 70 to 80 percent of women face forced marriages in Afghanistan
Mohammad Zahir Zafari, director regional office of the Independent Human Rights Commission in North Eastern zone in Kundoz, while rejecting the comments of the head teacher, says that nobody contacted IHRC until a day after Farida's suicide. 'Any contrary claim is nothing but a prejudice opinion and an attempt at giving bad name to our office', he asserted. He said it was the first incident of suicide among girls in Kundoz this year. 'Family disputed are on the rise among the common folk owing to an ever increasing poverty, lack of awareness about the legal rights and patriarchal culture', he added.
Without naming anyone, Zafari regrets that some individuals and certain circles, are upset and afraid because of the human rights commission's efforts and support to women's rights as it would patriarchy with matriachy. He says that for building a new culture and raising awareness about human rights we need help from the government as well as civil society since achieving all this would not be possible without eliminating this sort of violence.
Meanwhile, Ghulam Rabani, director of women's affairs board in Kundoz, while admitting increase in domestic violence says that during this year 29 cases of violence against women have been registered with them, while last year it was not even 20 cases. In his opinion, the main reason behind domestic violence is poverty as well as lack of education and awareness. According to Rabani, there are different forms of violence such as murder, beating, starvation, forced marriages, 'giving in bad'.
According to the data available at regional office of the human rights commission in Kundoz, last year more than 300 cases of rights violations and violence against women were registered. Most of the cases were forced marriages, beatings and three suicides.
According to Zafari, level of violence must have been much higher than what was reported as many of the incidents take place in remote areas and are not registered.
While all this is happening, a seven-month project 'Justice or accountability' was launched in Kunduz yesterday by two non-governmental organizations Educational Center for Women (ECW) and Family Welfare Foundation (FWF). The project is meant to cover North Eastern Zone (Kundoz, Baghlan, Takhar and Badakhshan).
But experts of women's affairs and analysts say that in the last five-year, workshops in the name of elimination of violence against women are held year in and year out by governmental and non governmental organizations but it leads to nothing.
Badal Bibi, in charge of publication and publicity of the women's affairs branch in Kundoz, says that such workshops have no effects to improve the culture of justice and end violence against women because except a number of known people in the city, others are not aware of it.
She says that the only solution is educating people, promoting human rights capacity of the women and men and most importantly, improving peoples economic situation and adds that not only the government but all civil society members and non governmental local and foreign organizations should take the responsibility.