Afghan women denied their identities
KABUL: Mother of Children, My Household, My Weak One or in far corners, My Goat or My Chicken: these are some of the terms Afghan men use to refer to their wives in public instead of their names, the sharing of which they see as a grave dishonour worthy of violence.
But, a social media campaign to change this custom has been percolating in recent weeks, initiated by young women. The campaign comes with a hashtag that translates as #WhereIsMyName.
The activists’ aim is to challenge women to reclaim their most basic identity and to break the deeprooted taboo that prevents men from mentioning their female relatives’ names in public.
“This is just a spark, the posing of a question to the Afghan women about why their identity is denied,” said Bahar Sohaili, a supporter of the campaign.
Like many social media efforts, this one began small. Since then, more activists have turned it into a topic of conversation by challenging celebrities and government officials to share the names of their wives and mothers.
Members of parliament, senior government officials and artistes have come forward in support, publicly declaring the identities of female members of their families.
However, the campaign also has its detractors.
Hassan Rizayee, an Afghan sociologist, said the custom was rooted in tribal ways of life.
“According to tribal logic, the important thing is the ownership of a woman’s body.
“The body of a woman belongs to a man, and other people should not even use her body indirectly, such as looking at her.
“Based on this logic, the body, face and name of the woman belong to the man.”
He said reversing such deeply ingrained traditions would take a long time, including changing what children were taught. NYT