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In Search Of An Identity

An invitation card arrived at the house… one fine evening. The owner of the house was invited to attend a ceremony in memory of the deceased wife of a famous author. However, the name of the author’s life partner was not mentioned there in the card!

Well, it happened in Afghanistan three years ago… These are quite common in the South Asian Nation, as one does not find the bride’s name even in a wedding card, there! In the war-ravaged country, the identity of a lady is either as someone’s mother, or daughter, or sister, or wife. Still, the invitation card had shocked 28-year-old Laleh Osmany, a Graduate from Herat University. She, based on it, had raised a question on the Social Media in the form of: #whereismyname?

Laleh Osmany

Three years later, Osmany has received an answer to it! The young lady from Afghanistan demanded that the name of the one’s mother, along with the father’s name, should be there on the National Identity Card! The Government of Afghanistan recently accepted her proposal, as it amended the Census Law last week! However, the new Law is yet to be cleared by the Parliament. According to sources close to the Government, the Parliament would soon pass the Law…

Osmany’s question had triggered a storm on the Social Media. Even, the Foreign Nationals had become vocal on the issue! Soon after the Afghan Government amended the Law, Osmany said that it would be important to include the names of mothers next to those of fathers on all National IDs, “especially for women who were divorced, had lost their husbands to the decades-old Afghan War or whose spouses were missing or had disappeared”. She added: “They faced tough times sorting out legal issues, such as the Right to Inheritance, Guardianship or issuance of passports for themselves or their children in the absence of a father.

The 250-member Afghan Parliament has 68 members, who themselves are ladies. However, quite a few of them have not yet been able to become Guardians of their children! They cannot even withdraw money from the banks, in the absence of their husbands!

With the Government of Afghanistan planning to hold Peace Talks with the Taliban to discuss ceasefire, withdrawal of US troops and other important issues, this step is a significant one for the country, where women are often publicly identified by the names of their male relatives in a staunchly Patriarchal Society. During their five-year rule, the Talibans did not allow the Afghan women to study or to work. Mary Akrami, the Executive Director of Afghan Women’s Skills and Development Centre (AWSDC), said: “Both Osmany’s efforts and Steps taken by the Government are significant. Women are hidden behind the curtain from their birth, and even after their death in Afghanistan.

While majority of the Afghan people consider the Government’s move as a very positive development, some conservatives and traditionalists oppose the idea. Nasratullah Haqpal, an Expert on Regional Affairs, is of the opinion that Kabul has accepted the proposal to “appease America and Europe”. “Afghan women do not rejoice with the inclusion of their names on ID, but will definitely want to see an end of blood-shedding of their children. They want nothing more,” he stressed.

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