In April 2011, as a pilot project for a larger research in September, Young Women for Change interviewed female teachers and students about street harassment. 90% reported that they face verbal assault daily, and 70% said they had also experienced physical harassment, including groping, pinching and slapping.
Street harassment is an act of violence and discrimination. In addition to making women feel endangered and vulnerable in public, harassment also discourages them from leaving their houses, and feeds the sadistic and discriminatory motivations of the assaulter by objectifying women, which leads to rape and sexual assault. The frequent harassment of women in public spaces in the cities of Afghanistan is a mirror of how the society views women and what it considers to be a woman's job or place.
Ranging from insults to physical assault, street harassment has become one of the most common and noticeable methods of discouraging women from publicly participating in society. There have been several incidents of throwing acid on women's faces in Kabul, Herat, Juzjan and Qunduz. All these methods of harassment lead to loss of women's motivation to work and study.
A commonly-used Afghan proverb brutally says: "A woman's place is either her husband's house or her grave." This common belief contributes not only to the street harassment of women, but also to the violence and abuse women face in families, schools, universities and workplaces.
Women not only are equally important to men in this world, but Afghan women are quite possibly the missing solution to Afghanistan's problems. The government must ensure that they are safe in their own homes AND that they may participate and go about their work freely within Afghan society. Enforce the Violence against Women (EVAW) law, INCLUDING street harassment.
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