»Everyone must be equal before the law«, but focusing on Afghanistan, I personally don’t find this article of the constitution of Afghanistan to be practiced in actual terms of society. The laws are written on paper but are far from the reality of what is being practiced in society. In Article 22 of the Afghanistan’s Constitution, it is stated that any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan is forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.
But is this practiced in actual terms? That’s another question! Writing is easy but actually doing and following the rule and laws is not easy for the officials in Afghanistan. In every democratic country there is the rule of law which clearly states that every individual is equal before the law and cannot be discriminated against based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, or language. That is the beauty of democracy, but not all people are lucky enough to enjoy these democratic laws in practice in their societies.
Since before the 19th Century and even now, the majority of non-democratic countries are struggling to achieve true gender equality in every sphere of life. This gender equality is certainly not present in Afghanistan, where there is less participation of women on decision making levels, fewer women and girls attending schools and universities, fewer women seen in official offices, and fewer women present in the army or police force. There is less presence of women in every part of society and its because women are not given the chance to prove themselves. This holds true for women all over the country, not only in provinces where patriarchy plays a stronger role than the constitution, but also in the capital and more developed provinces.
Women in most parts of the world have indisputably made tremendous progress in achieving equality before the law since the days of the suffragettes and since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948. Yet in 2019, according to the World Bank, 104 countries still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. These are discriminatory practices where the rule of law does not play any role.
Women and girls are, of course, not the only people who find themselves deprived of equality before the law. In Afghanistan, inequality also exists for different religious groups and ethnic minorities. I have experienced this in my own life, such as going to an official office and the paperwork taking longer if the officer in charge was from a different ethnic group than I.
First published here