When the Brussels summit is taking place to financially support the Afghan government, another report has caught attention of many. As many as 600 people attempted suicide in first half of the current year in Herat province. According to the spokesman for the zonal hospital in Herat, eighteen people succeeded in their attempt. The spokesman, Rafiq Sherzai, said that most of those who are trying to end their life are women. For them the life has become a burden, hard to carry further. What they did is wrong and cannot be justified on any ground. Life is a gift and we shall use it for our welfare and development of the society. As most of us are shun by the society and ignored by the government, therefore, they do not see any purpose in life.
Attempt of the staggering 600 people to commit suicide is shocking. It is a wakeup call for the international community to prod the Afghan government to address the issue on a war-footing. It is a data from just one province. We have no knowledge what will be happening in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, the international donors, especially the European Union, are worried about their own problems. The European nations have repeatedly urged the Afghan leaders to prevent people from coming to Europe. When they saw no progress, they have come up with another pressure tactic. They have made the aid to Afghanistan conditional on acceptance of the asylum seekers. The tactic worked well because the Afghan authorities are ready to accept the deported refugees.
Taking that as a precedent, the donors should ask the Afghan government to accelerate efforts to protect human rights in general and women’s rights in particular. As most of those who made attempt to commit suicide are women, thus, they need more attention. For years, the US and its allies oft-repeated the mantra that women in Afghanistan face violence, but they did little to pressurize the Afghan government to introduce broad range of reforms in the civil services structure and judiciary. There are women who committed suicide when their parents tried to sell them against their will. This is a reality, also confirmed by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and police officials.
When all the governmental departments acknowledge that human rights situation is worse, they should also take measures to improve the situation. Mere statements are policies on papers would not change the day. Only a comprehensive policy backed by the government will and action would improve human rights status in the country. The donor countries have a responsibility to fulfill in this regard.