Constitution of Afghanistan

When the new Constitution of Afghanistan was adopted in 2003, women were granted equal treatment before the law. However, women’s rights and freedoms are protected only de jure; de facto female population of Afghanistan is discriminated in a variety of ways. This can be explained by the fact that it might take several decades, if not centuries, for the cultural change to be implemented. Afghanistan remains the Islamic Republic; even the Constitution attaches moral significance to the tenets of Quran. Before marriage, girls are supposed to live with their families and obey their fathers and other male relatives.

After marriage, a wife joins her husband’s household and shall be obedient to him. Divorce procedure goes differently for men and women. For a man, it is sufficient to say talaq (meaning ‘divorce’) to his wife to be considered legally unmarried. However, a woman shall seek help from a marriage counselor or activist to end a marriage. These are the manifestations of the assumption that only men can function in the public sphere (i. e. community life), while women’s role is limited to the private sphere (i. e. homemaking and childrearing).

While the vast majority of Afghanis still live in villages, dress codes for women are strictly imposed there. Women are supposed to wear burqa which covers entire women’s body apart from a small region around the eyes, which also has to be covered by a net. Taliban regime rigorously enforced the purdah philosophy which implies preventing men from seeing women by means of a dress code and segregation of sexes. While the current government of Afghanistan makes limited attempts to ensure gender equality, cultural and religious norms still contribute to women’s inferiority in Afghan society.