On Sunday, a tenth grader from Mahmoud Raqi Girls High School in Kapisa Province of Afghanistan named Anisa was shot seven times by a group of men while she was walking home from school. Anisa was also a volunteer for a polio vaccination campaign ran by the Ministry of Public Health.
Anisa was killed for going to school. She was killed for vaccinating children. And she was killed for working outside her home.
Other than a Public Health Deputy Minister who condemned of this brutality, the office of the president, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs have remained silent.
Several civil society organizations have spoken out to demand justice for Anisa and have criticized the governmental authorities for their silence. Yesterday, Wednesday, at a press conference organized by Afghan Women’s Network, activists demanded that more attention should be paid to Anisa’s case so that justice is served. However, over and over the Afghan government has proven that Afghan girls’ education and women’s rights are not a priority unless they are deemed convenient bargaining chips for political agreements. From the endorsement of misogynistic resolutions by the religious Ulema Council that demands that women shouldn’t travel alone, to the imprisonment of 700 young girls for running away from abusive families or getting raped, the government has neglected women’s rights and security. The government has remained silent more often than not when girls’ schools have been burned and female students and teachers have been poisoned or attacked by acid.
Anisa’s murder is one example of the many brutalities against women and girls in Afghanistan. Her murder is not just the women’s rights activists’ business or the governments’ business — but the entire nation’s business. It is time people started speaking out against crimes towards women and standing up for the daughters of this country, whose security and education, can lead to forming a more prosperous land.
Afghan civil society organizations need to focus on creating grassroots support for the cause of justice for Anisa that will lead to public pressure on the government as well as pressure by the usual suspects of women’s organizations. In Pakistan, local women from around the country spoke out against the attack on Malala and there was a national and international mobilization of youth and women for advocacy. The same kind of advocacy needs to happen in Afghanistan if Afghan civil society is looking for long-term methods to pressure the political powers into bringing to justice the criminals who killed Anisa and continue to persecute other Afghan women.