۱۳۸۹ اسفند ۲۵, چهارشنبه

Stone-heart Sister-in-law[1]

There were two brothers: one, rich; the other, poor. They were living in neighborhood. Someday, the rich brother says to the poor one:” I have a grown fat sheep. Let’s kill it together.” They kill the sheep and cook its meat and eat at night. The rich brother gives a piece of meat to his wife.

“Deliver it to my brother’s wife.” He says.

His wife conceals the meat and does not deliver it. Poor brother’s wife was pregnant. She looks at the door when she hears a knock at the door. Once the door was being knocked, she stared seeing that her sister-in-law has brought pieces of bone throwing out for dogs, while there is no dog. Looking forward to getting help, poor pregnant collects pieces of bone and brings them at home. She washes pieces of bone boiling them and sips it totally.

Deep dark at night, poor brother returns home asking his wife:” did you have the meat?”

“What kind of human you are?! What do you mean by have the meat?” his wife says.

“You ate a huge pot of meat and deny it?” her husband says. The woman says nothing and calms down.

Next day, her sister-in-law says to her daughter:” bring the meat and let’s eat it.”

Her daughter goes trying to open the lid of pot, but she cannot manage to open it. She returns to her mother saying:” I cannot open the lid.”

“God damns you! Cannot you open a lid!” her mother says.

She opens the lid and all of a sudden a huge black snake appears circling around her neck. It keeps pressuring till the woman dies. People gather around trying to get off the snake, but they cannot. The poor brother’s wife informed and came. People are asking “why it happened?” Her daughter narrates what happened last night. The wife of poor brother understands what happened was for her. She brings Koran praying God for releasing her sister-in-law. God grants her pray and release her sister-in-law.

[1] Narrated by Qamar Gol, 45 years old, Originally from Ghazni grown up in Panjab and Behsud, 1381

داستان، افسانه، قصه، روایت هزارگی، خواندنی از هزاره ها

Expenditure For Winter[1]

Once upon a time, there was a poor and jobless man whose only prosperity was a cow. Someday, he thought to himself:” it’s winter now. It’d better kill the cow, parch it and eat its meat during winter.” He kills the cow and hands cow’s gut to his wife saying:” take it by the river and wash. I’m collecting other things with children.”

They had two children. He advices his children:” this meat cannot meet our needs. Don’t let your mother in when she is back. Even don’t let her in if he gets through door or window.”

Poor woman comes back home and see that the door is shut. She stands near the window crying out:” why don’t you open up the door?”

“Our father said that this amount of meat cannot suffice all of us.” Kids say.

The woman cries and grieves, keeps knocking the door. “Go and keep cow’s gut with you. Go everywhere you want.” The man says.

Black out.Dogs start yowling. She throws the gut for dogs and leaves there. She goes, goes and goes till she arrives in where she finds a mountain from which smoke is raising up.“ I am going to go there. Don’t care what happens.” She says to herself.

She goes and sees that there is a cave in which a number of angels holding wedding ceremony. She sees a big pot of Halwa[2], another big pot consisting of Palaw[3] and the other filled with meat. Whereas she is so hungry, she starts eating and eats as much as she can. The angels were enjoying their ceremony and don’t see the human. The ceremony came to end, angels went out and woman stayed lonely.

Long period of time went by. One day the woman remembered her children and thoughts to herself:” let’s go and see what happened on them.”

Winter was gone. The woman comes looking in through window. She sees that her children and her husband has laid back and are hungry. One of the kids is praying:” oh Lord, give my alimentary.” The woman has brought some Halwa, Palaw and meat, and throws some of it toward his son. The other boy asks his brother:” what did you have to eat?”

“Nothing” the other says.

The other boy prays:” oh Lord, give my alimentary.”

The woman throws some.

Seeing the situation, his husband prays:” oh Lord, give my alimentary.”

The woman throws a huge stone and makes his husband’s mouth bleeding. The kids are worried and come to the window and see their mother asking her: “why did you do that?”

“Your father threw me away when he killed the cow.” The woman responds. “Winter has gone and the meat has been eaten. God did not leave me alone. Now I am living in a cave. I could bear, so I have come to take you with me. But I have nothing to do with your father.”

Her husband begs him saying “take me with you”, but the woman does not accept.

“I leave you alone as you did for me.” The woman says.

[1] Narrated by Qamar Gol, 45 years old, Originally from Ghazni grown up in Panjab and Behsud, 1381

[2] A kind of food made of flour, oil and sugar cooking in where Hazaras are living

[3] A kind of food made of rice

۱۳۸۹ اسفند ۱۳, جمعه

Situation of Widows in Afghanistan "Part Third"

Chapter Four


1: Age of Widows

55.6% of the interviewees are under 40 years old and 44.4% are over 40. The following chart shows classification of age in the research.

Chart 2. Age of Widows






Under 15















Over 50



2: Education Level of Widows

Most of the widows are uneducated (78.1%). 10.4% of them have passed elementary education, 11.5% secondary education and 1.7% higher-education.

3: Number of Children of Widows

Most the widows have children among whom 18.3% have 1-2 children, 76.1% have 3-8 children and 3.8% have 9-12 and others have more than 12 children.

4- Length of widowhood

In most of the cases the length of widowhood is less than 10 years. 29.3% less than 5 years, 36.1% between 5 to 10 years and 34% more than 10 years.

5- Reason for widowhood

The biggest reason for widowhood is the death of husbands (53.4%). Martyrdom of the husband is the second large reason for widowhood (38.8%); the divorce is 4.4% and the death of husband due to overusing drugs and family problems are 2.8%

6- Lifestyle of the Widows

After a woman is identified as a widow, she has to remarry or go to his father’s or any other relatives’. In any case, there is a man leading her life; either her husband’s father, brother, uncle or her own father, brother and uncle.

The lifestyle for Afghan widows is different, but, in any case, a man is leading her life. One of the most effective factors for specification of lifestyle of widows in Afghanistan is the children. Based on our society’s culture, the man can take the responsibility of the children, but if a woman wants, she has to accept the conditions the man’s family proposed. That is why, in some cases, the widows get married unintentionally.

Chart 3. Lifestyle of Widows


Number of People





With Father’s Family



With Husband’s Family



With Son Family



With Daughter’ Family












The results of our research demonstrate that 55.2% of the widows are living independently and 44.8% dependently. The lifestyle has a strong relation with length of widowhood. Most of the independent widows are between 31 to 40 years old (69.4%) and from 41 to 50 years old are (64.3%). The younger widows are, the more dependently they live. For example, the number of widows more than 50 years old are 1.9%, between 16 to 20 are 46.2% and more than 50% are the widows under 15 years old.

A widow from Maimana says:” I am living with my brothers, but I have problems with their wives. I want to live lonely, but my brothers don’t allow me. They say it is a dishonor for us if you live alone.”

The widows who live with their husband’s families are different from 2.6% for the women over 50 years old and increases to 42.3% for the widows between 16 to 20 years old. The widows who have married children, over 50 years old are living with their children (55.8%), and mostly their sons (48.1%).

The widows whose widowhood is less than 5 years living with their fathers’ families or husbands’ families constitute 34.7% of our research, while the widows whose widowhood is between 10 to 15 years constitute 9.7% of the cases. The most important reason for young widows to live with father’s or husband’s family is because of predominant social culture. They have not to have eye contact with unknown men. Nevertheless, they have to be led by a man from her father’s or her husband’s family until her children grow up enough. Based on our research, young widows who have not enough education to make money or work outside have to live with father’s or husband’s family, while such women are not consent of their lifestyle.

Taking into account widespread of the poverty among Afghan families, a man-led family takes the responsibility of the young widow although they are being misused as slaves and her children would work for the man.

Abhiding in rural or urban areas makes no difference. But according to the research, most of the widows who live with their father’s families are in Kabul and Kapisa and the widows who live with their husband’s families are most in Nangarhar province. There is a difference in who takes the responsibility of a widow depends upon the widow’s age. The supervision of a widow over 40 is most taken by her son or her groom and less than 30 years old taken by her brother-in-law or her father in law or her own brother or father.

28.3% of the widows are led by their sons, 11.5% by their fathers or brothers and 13.7% by their husband’s relatives. 5.1% are taking their mother in law, nephews, or other new relatives as responsible and leader of their life. 39.6% are led by themselves among them 62.1% are living with their relatives. A Kabuli woman says:” I am living with my son and I have no will to do anything. He says that a woman should stay either in home or in the grave.”

7- Satisfaction from the Life

44% of the widows who live with the families of their husbands are extremely unsatisfied, while 14.3% of the widows living independently are unsatisfied of their lives. A woman who suffers from shared life says about her pains:” I cannot live without my family because I have nowhere to refuge to. I have to burn and bear like a candle.” Such women are encountering a lot of problems such as physical violence, hard works at home, lack of freedom and so many limitations for going outside, financial problems, affection to diseases and other problems. The work pressure is the biggest factor for keeping the widows unsatisfied (31%) particularly they have to do the work by hands and other pertaining works.

22.8% of the widows living with their relatives are suffering bad financial problems, 10.4% face with physical violation, 9.4% have limitation in going or working outside, 7.9% are suffering personal and familial interference and 3% are suffering bad diseases and have lack of health cares. Our group discussions show that despite family problems, unfavorable security situation, poverty and violation against them, they love living inside a family led by a man.

As a whole, the dissatisfaction of widows roots from social humiliation, being badly treated, unable to take tutelage of their children, doing hard works, forced marriages and limitation in their freedom and financial problems. But based on international treaties, all human beings are equal.

A woman who lives in third district of Balkh province says:” my husband’s family misuse me as a slave and I have to bear a lot of pressure. I am told that I am eating what they cook. There is no other way. I have nobody to protect and support me.”

8- Violation Against Widows

The violation is the biggest issue that Afghan women are being encountered with. There are many different reasons an Afghan woman is dealing with violation such as illiteracy, lack of awareness about their rights, suffering the violation and accepting it, low awareness of the people and dominant culture in the society. What seems is the most important factor is the cultural diversity in Afghanistan because different cultures have different values and interactively they make life a little hard. Such traditions keep the women silent and they never talk of the violation.

Based on the research, when we were interviewing the widows most of them never wanted to talk of violence on them particularly in response to direct questions, but in indirect questions it was somehow different. Women’s understanding about the word “violation/violence” is only in regard to physical attacks so that in the research when we use the word “violation or violence” we mean only physical violation.

8-1: Relation between the Age and Violation

The situation of young women is always worse in comparison to their older counterparts, according to HRIC’s reports. For example, the reason why the women settled in south and west-south of Afghanistan are committing suicide more than other parts shows that the women from 15 to 25 years old commit suicide due to familial violation (87%). According to the research, older women are facing with violation less. 50% of the victims of violation are between 16 to 20 years old and there are a few cases in regard to violation against old women, 41 to 50 years old (17.3%). This is because the older a woman is, the more she wants to live with her family man supporter.

Of course the women over 50 years old have violation in a wide range. 21.8% are being violated by their sons, brides and grooms and among them near 10% are under psychic pressure. Whereas an old widow who has lost her financial supporter and now needs to be taken care of has so many problems such as food, clothing, health care and so on. This will lead to mental problems, pressure and even physical problems.

An old woman from Bamiyan province says:” I feel I am something extra or additional over my daughter’s family. I wish the government would allocate a place for me and my counterparts.”

Situation of Widows in Afghanistan "Part Two"

Chapter Two

Background of the Subject

The widows of Afghanistan have been witnessed unfamiliar approaches that have harmed their human munificence and generosity. In this case, we can point out to the advices of Ahmad Shah Ghazi to his prince, Teimur Shah. Based on Ahmad Shah’s account, a widow belongs to her husband’s family and no stranger can marry her (all dynasties always wanted to keep their social and personal honor). According to Ahmad Shah, the divorce was a dishonor and humiliation to the husband’s dynasty and Teimur Shah was obeying his father’s advices.

Unpleasant approaches toward the women were not only in the past, but also in recent years, during Taliban era. In this era, the women were being hit and maimed in public and they were deprived of any basic human rights. After disintegration of Taliban the situation of Afghan women has been going much better, but they are two million people who are the remnants of war and are away from their rights.

Despite bulks of problems and difficulties, there have been done few researches in the situation of the widows of Afghanistan and also the widows are still living in harsh conditions. According to a report done by UNIFEM in 2006, 65% of the 50000 widows settled in Kabul are intended to commit suicide due to financial problems. Also, based on a research done by Research and Evaluation Unite of Afghanistan, the possibility of working of children is very high because the sexual norms and rules do not let the women work outside the house.

According to Diora Zalson on the effects of drought on widows, the widows are two times and their children five times more in danger of malnutrition comparing to their married counterparts.

There are many different reasons for harsh situation of the widows, but the most important one is negligence of the government. In four international conferences on women affairs, Mexico in 1975, Copenhagen 1980, Norway 1986 and Beijing 1995, there we can find no clue of concern regarding the widows. Even in the Beijing Conference in 1995 that was held for human rights, elimination of poverty, violation against women, education, health care and armored conflicts, nobody talked about the widows.

In the constitution of Afghanistan only article 53 is talking about support for the families led by women, but in practice, there has been little attention. This claim is clearer in cyclic report of the Islam Republic of Afghanistan in relation to the application international treaties of economic, social and cultural rights in 2007.

Leading the family, financial problems, living lonely and wrong attitudes of the society toward the widows double mental problems of the widows. Financial problems have kept the widows away from society. Insecurity in economic issues cause that the widows be concern of their own and their children’s future. The main problem of the widows is poverty and harsh economic situation that pave the way for other problems. Their poverty roots from personal obstacles such as illiteracy, indifference of the government, no welfare policy for the widows and betterment of their lives. While based on Afghanistan Agreement the mass of poverty the women who lead their families would reduce to 20% in last 2010. There are only a few month ahead and it seems impossible.

Chapter Three

Theoretical Topics

According to big dictionary of Sokhan, the widow is a woman whose husband is not present due to divorce or death. But in other cultures and languages, the word “widow” is a cursed word approaching its subjects unfairly. In a country like Afghanistan unidimentional thoughts, tribe-based discrimination and narrow-mind people deepen the problems and do not let the women to have access to their legal rights.

A study on women rights in South Asia, in the countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Seri Lanka has explained the situation of women unpleasant. In Bangladesh the supervision of children belongs to the husband’s family. Although the Koran says that the women have a portion of inheritance, in most of Islamic countries in South Asia the women rights are denied and they are deprived of their inheritance rights.

A research on the widows in Kashmir indicates that the widows in there have economic, shelter, literacy, health care, dependency to their relative and mistreatment problems. Such women have to work at home and push their children to work outside the house. 40% of these children are illiterate among them the girls are more vulnerable. Most of these women are concerned of their financial support in the future. In India, there are 33 million widows who are in poverty and critical financial situation.

The situation of widows is unclear in Iran. Based on the studies, 59.8% of in the families led by women the women feel disable and 60.2% of them are concerned of their future. Most of them have economic, marriage, supervision of the children and psychic problems.

In Afghanistan, there are many widows who have lost their husband during last decades of war. These women have problems in the society such as cultural and traditional limitations, lack of access to education, health care, job and remarriage problems.

A research shows that the poorest women in Afghanistan are the widows. Based on the research, if a woman loses her husband in adolescence, she will be very vulnerable. She has lost her bread-maker and because she is young she will have economic problems and cannot work outside. She has to stay with her brother, her father, her son or her groom or her husband’s relatives. Because the poverty is a widespread phenomenon in Afghanistan, such women would be known as an extra human being in the family so that she would have to work hard.

The widows of Afghanistan have many problems in taking tutelage of their children. Based on our traditions and culture, the children of a widow must live with their father and if a woman wants to take tutelage of her children, when she wants to remarry, if her new husband doesn’t agree, she has to submit her children to her ex-husband. In a poor widow case, she is not allowed to take tutelage of her children.

The traditions of Afghanistan that are much often applicable create many problems for the widows of the country. Young Afghan widows cannot decide what is good for them and have to follow what her husband’s family dictates her. Older women have less social limitation, but they have health dilemma instead. Only traditions and superstitious beliefs are not weakening the rights and spirits of women but indifference from the government, international society, civil society and even women advocacy organizations is another problem.

The indifference and nonchalance of four world conferences on the women and their families (Mexico 1975, Copenhagen 1980, Norway 1985, Beijing 1995) and Convention of Violation Against Women is very vivid. There is no document in named conferences indicating any support for older widows. For instance, in Beijing Conference 1995, in none of twelve grounds such as eradication of poverty, violation against women, health care, education, women and armed conflicts and human rights never discussed the widows. There have been no research and census on the widows of Afghanistan and the government has never made any specific and transparent policy for protection of them.

In addition to lack of family laws particularly in regard to the women, the slowness of legal reforms and applicable laws increase the social and economic pressure over the widows.

According to article 53of the constitution of Afghanistan, the government is responsible for vulnerable and woman-led families. Although Hamed Karzai has issued a decree in 2009 in regard to evaluation of the situation of vulnerable families, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and related organizations such as Human Rights Commission have not done any remarkable action. Concerning mentioned problem, only there has been a program called “National Job Program for Afghan Women” in which the women were taught about government, security, law, human rights, social and economic development, but there is no footprint of widows in the program.

Situation of Widows in Afghanistan "part one"

Situation of Widows in Afghanistan

Author and Researcher in Original Language: Nasrin Torkmani

Translated by: Basir Bita



There are a great number of widows in Afghanistan, but in recent years this number has been multiplied remarkably. Taking into consideration there has not been a census in recent last years, it is estimated that there are two million widows in our country.

According to few researches done in relation to the widows, the situation of Afghan widows has always been inappropriate and they have had problems. Based on a research done by the JICA regarding vulnerable Afghan women, the situation of Afghan widows has been assessed terrible encountering limitations in having access to economic opportunities.

A report from UNIFEM in 2006 indicates that 65% of the widows living in Kabul have tried to commit suicide. Another report says that the widows are two more times in danger than other women and their children are five times more in danger of malnutrition than others women’s. Such reports point out that the widows have serious problems so that applicable plans and strategies must be taken into consideration.

Any specific supporting plan is intangible in the constitution of Afghanistan. Only based on article 53 the government is responsible for protecting the vulnerable people such as the widows. In practice, such protection was weak and trivial. For example, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Martyrs and Disables had a supporting program from 2006 to 2008. In this program over 10500 orphans were being covered and nurtured in orphanages, the children had short time educational classes, winter aides and temporary pecuniary aids were included as well. In addition, the Ministry of Women, away from temporary aids, has no specific and long-term plan in betterment of the situation of widows of Afghanistan.

Even in the plans of second presidential term there is no support for the widows of Afghanistan and the articles of international treaties have been forgotten. Based on a report, the government could not provide social support for the widows.

The unpleasant situation of Afghan widows has made the Human Rights Independent Commission to step forward for finding new solutions and build new strategies for betterment of the situation of the widows. And here we have prepared a research in order to get our goal {which is to represent the situation of Afghan widows}.

Chapter One


Type of Research and Data Collecting Method

This research is a descriptive and analytic one focusing on the situation of the widows of Afghanistan. The data have been collected by direct interviews through a questionnaire from 1000 widows. To complete the research, 55 experts in women affairs were interviewed and 15 group discussions were held in seven provinces as well. And finally, the data were analyzed in SPSS program.

Basic Questions of Research

The goal of our research is to have a deep cognition of widows and their problems to offer suggestions by which the government and other organizations make proper and needed strategies for the recovery of the situation of the widows.

The basic questions of research are as following:

1. What are the problems of the widows in personal freedom, economic independency, marriage, taking tutelage of their children and education?

2. What are the reasons of mentioned problems?

3. What are the most important needs of the widows?

4. What have been done for vulnerable widows based on the Afghanistan Agreement so far?

Hypothesis of Research

· The widows have limitations in having access to their human rights such as cultural, family, social and economic limitations.

· The problems of the widows most root from financial issues, beliefs and traditional customs.

· The most important things which Afghan widows need are betterment in their financial situation, welfare in their lives and eradication of wrong social beliefs.

· There has not been done any remarkable work in the recovery of widows’ lives.

Places the Research Covered

In the research, seven provinces of Kabul, Kapisa, Balkh, Faryab, Nangarhar, Bamiyan and Herat were in coverage. The selection of seven provinces was based on the reports of Labor and Social Affairs Department and Martyrs and Disables Department in the provinces. Despite diversified culture in Afghanistan, seven provinces were selected for their cultural diversity. In each province, in addition to the center of province, also a district was selected in random.

Static Population

The widows are the women whose husbands are dead, martyr, killed or divorced. There is no exact census in widows of Afghanistan, but the UN says that they are around two million people.

Sample Method and Number of Sample Population

Sampling in the research is multistage and all the stages for selecting the people were random as much as possible. The number of sample population in confidence is 95% and 3% in precision. In the research 1000 questionnaires were filled, but 18 of them were discarded due to technical problems.

The portion of questionnaires was based on the population of the widows in every province that for Kabul 180 questionnaires, at climax, and for Kapisa 100 questionnaires, in bottom point. 50% of questionnaires were filled in urban areas and other 50% in rural areas.

Chart 1. Provinces under Coverage of Research


Number of Filled Questionnaires

Name of Province

























Besides individual interviews with the widows, 5 to 10 experts in women affairs have been interviewed in each province. The experts were from Women Affairs Departments, Martyrs and Disables Departments, HRIC offices, domestic and international organizations. 15 group discussions were held among which some widows and authorities were invited.

The obstacles during gathering the information

The main problem was that there is no exact statistics concerning the number of widows. Afghan Center for Population Census has no statistics, but based on UN estimated census there are around two million widows in Afghanistan. The number which Ministry of Martyr and Disables says is very lower than UN’s. Nevertheless, NU believes that there are 50000 widows only in Kabul, while abovementioned ministry has identified 10719 disables and people related to martyrs people in Kabul.

Lack of books, investigative reports, documents and studies on Afghan widows has made our research much harder. Insecurity in different spots during gathering information was forcing us to switch off some places, that is, we had to find an alternative, a place very similar to chosen spot.

One of the other problems was that our interviewees have mostly no specific place for settling. In order to tackle this problem, we talked to the Women Affairs Organizations and Congregations because they have more essential information about widows’ jobs and homes’. In many cases, the widows were not ready to answer the questions correctly and, in order to bring our problem down; we explained the whole process of interview and our goals for our research to the women.