By: Joanna Hoffman, Special Projects Manager
Last week, 22 year-old Storai Mohammed was strangled to death by her husband and mother-in-law for giving birth to a girl, and not the son they had demanded of her. Her husband fled, but his mother was detained and told police that Storai “felt guilty” for bearing three daughters and committed suicide.
In Afghanistan, as in many parts of the world, newborn sons are celebrated while girls are met with disappointment, fewer opportunities and a stifling lack of autonomy. In Afghan tribal culture, only sons can inherit their father’s wealth and pass down a name. Just one-third of children in school are girls, and only 10% will earn a diploma. Many girls are married off at young ages: according to UNICEF, 43% of Afghan marriages involve brides under the age of 18. What’s more, according to the United Nations, over 87% of women in Afghanistan are abused.
What is needed now, more than ever, is a fundamental re-positioning of how girls and women are perceived, with an understanding that these changes must come from within cultures. We know that girls and women are powerful forces of change; that their unpaid labor contribute up to one-third of world GDP; that every year of a girl’s education delays her marriage, reduces the number of children she has, and decreases her children’s mortality rates by up to 10%; and that the world loses as much as $15 billion in productivity from maternal and newborn deaths. We need to ensure that global leaders and decision-makers are aware of these facts, understand them, and incorporate them into national policies.
- READ the New York Times Article, “Afghani Mother Killed for Not Bearing a Son”
- WRITE a Letter to the Editor to express the importance of protecting the lives of girls and women
Photo courtesy of maiaibing2000