The Afghanistan Constitution Has Failed — and This Kidnapping Proves It

A female member of the Afghani Parliament and her three children were recently kidnapped by Taliban insurgents. Fariba Ahmadi Kakar and her young children were traveling between Kandahar and Kabul to attend a Muslim holiday celebration when Taliban gunmen abducted them according to the deputy governor of Ghazni Province, Mohammad Ali. A NATO and Afghan security operation later freed the children but Kakar remained in captivity because it was said that she was being held at a separate location. While the Taliban's motives have not been clearly expressed the police said the abductors demanded that the government release four Taliban prisoners in exchange for Mrs. Kakar.

This kidnapping is the latest violent attack against a prominent woman in Afghanistan. In 2006, Taliban gunmen shot dead Safia Ama Jan, a leading women's rights activist. Last year a female Afghan politician, Hanifa Safi, was killed after a bomb attached to her car exploded. In July, Lieutenant Islam Bibi, one of Afghanistan's highest-ranking female police officers, was shot dead on her way to work in Helmand Province. Last week, Rooh Gul, parliament member, was injured and her daughter killed when Taliban insurgents opened fire on their vehicle in southern Ghazni Province.

All of these attacks suggest that Afghanistan's constitution has failed in creating freedom and protecting women's rights in the country.

As international troops prepare to leave the country at the end of next year there are strong concerns “that hard-won women's rights promoted by the United States and its allies are eroding.” Many individuals believed the removal of Taliban rule — a period in which women were forced to wear a burqa and were not allowed a proper education — meant the creation and protection of women's rights in Afghanistan but this has not entirely been the case. Although the constitution of Afghanistan, which was ratified in 2004, codified laws that created rights and provided protections for Afghan women, many of these pledges of equal rights were only made on paper. According to Ann Jones, a women's rights expert, journalist, and author of Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan, “Although there have been improvements on paper in the constitution and international treaties, for most Afghan women life has stayed the same, and for a very great number, life has gotten much worse.

It is clear that cultural and religious extremism continue to pose a serious threat to women's rights in Afghanistan. These elements of extremism impede efforts to create equality for Afghan women, which is why it is necessary to eliminate all traces of extremism. Development efforts will fail if necessary measures to completely annihilate the Taliban (and other extremist groups) are not enforced. The Taliban's ability to carry out violent operations against women has undermined attempts to create and protect the rights of women in Afghanistan. Enforcing the country's constitution will not be easy, but it's necessary for the well-being of women in the country.