STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Weep for the women in Afghanistan

The greatest cookery advice came from, who else, the Chinese. It said: “Excess marks the amateur; subtlety signals the master chef.

Published: 31st October 2021 07:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2021 08:00 AM   |  A+A-

The Taliban belief that “the face of a woman is a source of corruption” led to women having to wear the burqa at all times in public.

The Taliban belief that “the face of a woman is a source of corruption” led to women having to wear the burqa at all times in public.

The greatest cookery advice came from, who else, the Chinese. It said: “Excess marks the amateur; subtlety signals the master chef. No ingredient must yield to another. Each should stand out proud 
and glorious.”

Distilled wisdom, that’s what this is. Food cooked on this principle can only be divine. The validity of the wisdom extends beyond the kitchen. All human activity is subject to the dictum, “subtlety signals the master.” When that ingredient goes missing, any human activity tends to become gross. It’s like charity donations: Those made with public fanfare are a world apart from those made silently.

This is a game into which ideologically driven teams jump with zeal. Former Pakistani cricketer Waqar Younis recently praised team player Mohammed Rizwan for performing namaz when surrounded by Hindus. What a petty mind. As petty as Imran Khan’s. This cricketer rose to the Prime Ministership of Pakistan, but his mind has remained piffling, spiteful. He described India-Pakistan matches as jihad. These are men who can see nothing without the communal spectacles they wear. They are a shame even to their religion, which has a nobler history than they care to admit.

Originally, jihad was a word that denoted an individual’s effort for spiritual self-perfection. Later, it began to be interpreted as a spiritual struggle for propagation and defence of Islam. Soon enough that began to mean a holy war for spreading religion.

To the leaders who communalise everything, it was the start of a new kind of game. To the victims it was something else. Consider the fate of women in Afghanistan. This is a country usually described as the worst place for women. The ruling Taliban made it worse. In 1996, it decreed that all women were banned from employment. Its declared aim was to create “a secure environment where the chasteness and dignity of women may once again be sacrosanct”. What followed was a life in purdah for women based on the Pashtunwali beliefs. One of history’s great ironies.

The Taliban belief that “the face of a woman is a source of corruption” led to women having to wear the burqa at all times in public. Women were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperone. They faced public flogging and execution for violations of Taliban laws. Amnesty International reported that 80 per cent of Afghan marriages were forced.

Other rules introduced for women told their own tale. Women should not wear high-heeled shoes as no man should hear a woman’s footsteps lest it excites him; women should not speak loudly as no stranger should hear a woman’s voice; all ground and first-floor residential windows should be painted over or screened to prevent women from being visible from the street; displaying pictures of females in newspapers, books, shops or homes was barred; women’s presence in radio television or at public gatherings of any kind was banned. In Kabul’s largest state-run orphanage, the female staff was dismissed and the 400 girls living in the institution were locked inside with no scope for recreation.

Bus services were segregated to prevent men and women travelling in the same vehicle. In 1998, a researcher who travelled to Kabul said it had become a city of beggars filled with “women who had once been teachers and nurses, now moving in the streets like ghosts under their enveloping burqas, selling every possession and begging so that they can feed their children.” Mullah Razzaq, Governor of Herat, issued orders prohibiting women from passing by his office “for fear of their distracting nature”.
The psychology displayed by this Governor says it all. If men are distracted by women, it’s the women’s fault. If a man attacks a woman, it’s the woman’s fault.

A 1998 survey found that 97 per cent of women showed signs of serious depression while 71 per cent reported a decline in their physical well-being. Taliban chiefs themselves must have understood their hypocrisy. A leader of the new Taliban regime in Kabul actually called upon women to join the Government. But the ban on the country’s beauty salons remained. Cosmetics such as nail polish and make-up remained prohibited. Place names that included the word “women” were modified. Women were, of course, banned from participating in sports or entering a sports club. In 1996, a woman had the tip of her thumb cut off for wearing nail varnish.

Did the Chinese say, excess marks the amateur? They will be lucky if the Taliban does not take over their country. If they ever do, the Chinese will learn that there is no such thing as excess.



Comments(1)

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

  • Gotham

    True
    1 month ago reply
edexworks
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp