Admin, this essay is unfinished but I am posting to recieve some feedback as well as have it proofread. This essay consists of 4 topics relating to Afghanistan in relation to the novel. Can you please check for grammatical and other such errors as well as plagarism. Your feedback will be much appreciated. This is not a large piece of writing. It is concise writing, so please keep that in mind
Women in Afghanistan overcome adversity and oppression from the opposite sex everyday of their lives. They are abused in and outside the confines of their own homes. "In A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, the struggles of women are depicted vividly. Mariam and Laila are born generations apart, yet end up getting married to Rasheed. They are both married at the age of fifteen. A marriage in Islam is usually a sacred union of two people who choose to respect and honour one another in all situations. It is usually a joyous occasion for females. In the novel, marriage is a nightmare in which both women are abused physically and mentally. The legal marrying age for women in Afghanistan is sixteen, however, people in rural areas "either ignore the law or claim they are not aware of it". (Afghanistan Online) Child marriages are common all over the country. It is believed that between sixty and eighty percent of all the marriages in Afghanistan are forced and out of these fifty-seven percent are child marriages (About.com). These marriages come with grave consequences. Any type of sexual intercourse can lead to severe health risks and as a result, their babies suffer.
Mariam is impregnated at the age of sixteen. While taking a shower "there was blood and she was screaming." (Hosseini 81) Her baby died in her womb and it bled down the sewage drain. This is the case with many teenage mothers. The mother would not only put to risk her health but of her baby. The risk of getting HIV and AIDS is at it's peak at the young age. There is an increased risk of maternal and infant mortality.
Besides physical abuse women also take a toll when they go through life uneducated. In the novel, Mariam and Laila are fortunate to receive some form of education. Mariam was tutored by Mullah Faizullah in the Quran and as a result learned to read and write. Mariam had aspirations of going to a real school but Nana rejected the idea. She said that a girl needs "only one skill. And it's this: tahamul. Endure."(Hosseini 17) Nana portrays the mindset of many traditional families. Due to her lack of education, Mariam was unaware of the political turmoil or life outside of the "kobla". (Hosseini 1) She would be called illiterate by Rasheed. Nana's greed also held Mariam back. She had only Mariam to spend time with and school would take away from that time. On the other hand, Laila was raised in a household in which education was advocated. In contrast to Nana, Laila's father was very encouraging. He tells her, "I know you're still young, but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You're a very, very bright girl." (Hosseini 103) There were countless books in her father's library for her access. Even despite all the bad, her father was able to shine light into her life. He knew the situation with the Taliban very well. Despite this he told his daughter, "You know how I feel about that. That would be our absolute top priority, to get you a good education, high school then college. (Hosseini 136) This mindset was present in many people, but wasn't allowed to be explored.
The literacy rate of women in Afghanistan is currently 14%. Women are kept at home and denied the chance to get an education. According to an Afghan school teacher and principal, "over two-thirds of the nine-year-old girls sitting on the stone floor in a classroom an hour from Tora Bora were either already married or soon to become wives. Almost all of the older children were married, and only about one-third of the children who attended school in second grade continued to sixth grade."(America) These women grow up not knowing math, safe-sex or ways to keep themselves healthy. This situation worsened with the rise of the Taliban. Laila suffered, as did many other girls who were being schooled. During the Taliban period, only three percent of women were educated. All schools for girls and universities for women were closed. This lasted twenty years. As a result, the women are now illiterate and have very little to pass on to today's generation. They can only pass on the values they know and have learned. Today, there is a lot of hope for both genders to educate themselves. "Education reporting that 5.2 million students were enrolled in grades one through twelve in 2005. This includes an estimated 1.82-1.95 million girls and women. An additional 55,500-57,000 people, including 4,000-5,000 girls and women, were enrolled in vocational, Islamic, and teacher education programs, and 1.24 million people were enrolled in non-formal education programs. (PBS)" The new generation is willing and eager to learn and is finally getting the chance to do so.
Due to the situation that beckons, the citizens of Afghanistan were forced to find an escape. Acts of terrorism and warfare made Afghanistan a dangerous place to live in. The 1980s were highlighted by the vast number of refugees that fled to nearby nations. Today, there are more than 3.7 million Afghan refugees in the world. (UNHCR) Seeing as Afghanistan's population is 31.7 million, it's almost ten percent. Most of the Afghan Diaspora can be found in Pakistan (2 million) and Iran (1.5million). In Europe, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom house the most. Many others have fled, but are now citizens in their respective countries and don't get included in the statistics. THE UNHCR says that Afghanistan is "the single largest refugee crisis in the world". (UNHCR) This is due to several reasons. One, the events of 9/11 has internally displaced many Afghans. Their homes have now turned to rubble. Many others can't afford to pay the tickets for buses. These same people are also unable to trek across the border due to the lack of food and chances of dehydration. Reports also say that "even if up to 1.5 million people did cross, there would still be four million vulnerable people stranded inside the country. "(IRIN) These 1.5 million cross the border (Pakistan) in high hopes hoping for a better life. Pakistan is a developing nation with problems of its own. There is a lack of jobs; schooling and housing also cost a fortune for these people. The bottom line is, these refugees are stranded every which way they turn and there are very little people to help them.
The novel explores this aspect in the very last part. After the Taliban take over, people fear for their lives and decide it's time to go. Everyone is ready and willing, everyone except for Fariba, Laila's mom. After the death of Ahmed and Noor, Fariba refused to leave Afghanistan until the work her sons started was complete. Hakim, Laila's father, had dreams of going to California and leaving as well. Eventually the family decides to leave. As they are leaving they are all killed in a bomb, everyone except for Laila. This is the first attempt at migration. Tariq is second to go. He manages to get to Quetta, Pakistan with his family members. The most tragic and crucial to the story involves Mariam and Laila. After getting impatient with Rasheed's continued assault, they decide to runaway. Their plan backfires as a man informs the authorities about them being alone without any male supervision. Eventually, Laila and Tariq escape with the kids to Muree, Pakistan where they settle and start their new life. This didn't happen without certain sacrifices. Khaled Hosseini portrays the immigration struggles quite vividly in the story. The couple of Tariq and Laila were forced to send Aziza to an orphanage because they couldn't provide enough food for her. Also, due to the fact that Tariq had prosthetic legs, it took him a while to find a job. This book contains a lot of facts. The plot maybe fiction, but the events and struggles are all depicted as they should be.
TALIBAN CRISIS & WOMEN
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" takes place in a time period fuelled by war. This time period is very much controlled and under the rule of the Taliban. Islamic Sharia' law was misused by the Taliban and enforced with severe consequences. The Taliban was a mujahedin group (freedom fighters) that formed during the Soviet regime in 1978. They managed to overthrow the Soviets and eventually came to power, much to the delight of the citizens. In less than twenty years they went from a hero, to Afghan's most hated. They took control on September 27, 1996. This date saw the start of the violation of human rights, women abuse and public flogging. Women received the right to vote in the 1920s and were making a strong push for democracy by the 60s. Women made up for fifteen percent of the Afghan legislature. In the 1990s "70% of schoolteachers, 50% of government workers and university students, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women."(state.gov) As soon as the Taliban came to power, women were banished from the work force, weren't allowed to be seen outside without a mahram (male relative) (FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION) A women, if caught alone on the street, "would be beaten and sent home." (Hosseini 248) This was the beginning of the end for women rights.
A male was not to treat a female for any reason. The only female doctors available would be far from the town's centre and in a remote area with just the minimal resources. They would have to go to Rabia Balkhi Hospital. "They had no clean water...no oxygen, no medications, no electricity" (Hosseini 255) Laila is pregnant with Zalamai and has to go to this very hospital to deliver him. Her baby was delivered with the doctor cutting her open without anaesthetics. Many other pregnant women suffered the same fate. Khaled Hosseini also tells off other restrictions placed on women which are not exaggerated at all. Women were severely beaten for various "crimes". They would be beaten for not wearing the full burqa and having their ankles exposed. Burqas are expensive and many women are unable to afford them. Situations were such that women would leave their houses one by one so they could share the garments. Women were also assaulted for making a sound, laughing, the sounds of their footsteps, not praying five times a day, making eye contact and all public places that started with "women" were changed to more acceptable words. (Islam-Today) Some Taliban militants would go as far as to killing women in public to make an example of them. Often times, women were charged with crimes they would not commit. Young and old women were all treated in the same violent fashion. There are many cases in which "they chopped off hands" because they suspected a crime. (Hosseini 318) Islam is a religion which defends human rights and holds women as equals. The Taliban put to shame the religion of Islam with their despicable practices.