Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Global Issues Novel Study: Rights and Freedoms



I'm back! Sorry it took me so long to write a post but I promise to write more! :) Anyways today I am going to be doing another post about my Global Issues novel The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.  This novel takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan and it is about a 15 year old girl supporting her family when Afghanistan taken over by the Taliban.  Women were forced to wear a chadari and hide their faces and where not allowed to work during this time. The main character Kamila started a secret tailoring business and was able to be successful during such a difficult time. I am going to be connecting this post to my current social studies unit which is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  While reading this book I kept wondering if women had any rights in Afghanistan or if the Taliban just continually violated their rights. After doing some research I discovered that, like Canada, Afghanistan also has a constitution. Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms is found within the constitution.  After more searching I discovered Afghanistan's constitution contained something similar called "Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens". When I first looked at this section of the constitution I must admit I was shocked by how similar their rights are to the rights in Canada. The very first section of the Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens states that: "Any kind of discrimination between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and women, have equal rights and duties before the law."  This version of the constitution was put into place January 2004. However looking back at a previous version of the constitution I noticed several differences such as an article saying that all foreigners are bound to obey the constitution. Beyond some other differences, this constitution still stipulated that men and women must have equal rights. This earlier constitution was in place in 1990 and the event in my novel took place in 1996. So when the Taliban took over the country they clearly disregarded the constitution. They forced women to cover everything but their eyes and forbade them from going out in public without a male escort.   This was a complete deprivation of their rights. This lead me to reflect upon what could cause the constitution to be ignored. Firstly, I believe this occurred because when the Taliban seized power they had had total control of the the government; the country and the population.  They were able to change the laws upholding the constitution, and eradicated it instead. They then replaced it with their religious laws which resulted in woman having fundamental rights snatched from them. I think that when the regular government was able to hold power over Afghanistan once more they wanted to change the country in hope to later create a freer and more accepting place. That is why they created this new charter. Comparing it to Canada's, I believe that it if upheld it will positively change Afghanistan and hopefully further encourage the residents there.   


I don't know if applying Canada's charter to the situation would help because when the Taliban overthrew the government they also were able to over throw Afghanistan's constitution. I think that if in the same position they would have disregarded Canada's constitution as well. However if Canada's charter was applied I believe the situation in my novel would be very different. First of all and most significantly, women would have never had to suffer the inequality they were faced with during this time.  The Equality Rights within the Canadian Charter state that "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability " If this had been upheld by law in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban women would have been able to work, move through public freely and receive their education. This would have prevented many families from sinking into poverty.  This happened because the women couldn't work and many of the men had to flee the Taliban. If the Canadian charter had been in place it would have also avoided many arrests as under the Legal Rights section of the charter it states that "Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned."  Therefore it would be against the law for the Taliban to arrest anyone who had been in the military or women without an escort. Finally,  I think that another section of the charter that would have had a major impact on my global issue is the fundamental freedom that "Everyone has freedom of conscience and religion." If the Taliban would have respected this they would have never taken over in the first place in order to force their religious values on everyone in Afghanistan. 

7 comments:

  1. Kirseeeetin... :) I think you share a prominent view with me in terms of this issue: the women in Afghanistan are ready for change, willing to do what it takes, and yet those with power deny them the chance. Not just that, but many family members and even some women are convinced that their traditional practices are right and justified. Both of us also discussed a key matter in terms of their constitution: in writing, they have the basic rights and freedoms, and they could resolve the issues women are facing. The problem lies in the hands of the power, and the actual application of the constitution (or rather, the lack thereof).

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  2. I really like your post Kirsten but unfortunately one of your dogs pictures is covering a bit of the text. Would the issue be resolved if we applied a different government and maybe got rid of the Taliban (if yes why, if no why)?

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    1. The Taliban have recently fallen from power in Afghanistan and the country is working on establishing a better government and creating more rights for people the new constitution is a definite start (created in 2004)

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  3. Kirsten, I thoroughly enjoyed this post, or the beginning to be more exact, one of Sable's photos is covering up half of the last paragraph. Anyways, what do you think would happen if the Taliban never took control, would rights still be eradicated and disregarded? What if the government wasn't corrupt and under the control of the Taliban? Do you think anything would change? Anyways, great post and interesting summary of the book. Also your previous posts and roundtables look great!

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  4. Kirstin: You really went into depth with this post. This displayed a lot of knowledge that you have on this topic. I agree with most points but I do however have some disagreements. When you said "All Foreigners are bound to obey the constitution" foreigners have to obey the constitution in Canada too. Thats like saying that if you come to Canada as a tourist that you do not have to obey the law. This is the same on Canada's constitution as in Afghanistan.

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    1. Sorry I wasn't clear that means they are basically bound to all the ways and the religion of the country not just the laws (women visiting have to dress a certain way depending on where)

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  5. Kirsten,
    I love how deeply you dug into this topic! It is obvious that you are passionate about it, and I hope that you continue to show that through posts to come. I totally agree with everything that you mentioned in the post. It is absolutely shocking, and horrible how woman are treated in other parts of the world. I really do wish, and I hope, that a right for woman will be created for Afghan woman to help them – just like Canadian woman. How do you think this would, or could happen? Like, how is the government over there? Are the officials doing anything to change this issue? Thanks for sharing! I'm defiantly inspired and I'm glad I'm subscribed.

    ~ Brianna @ For The Love of Books

    PS: I'm sorry if some of the things were actually in your post. I'm pretty sure they aren't, but Sable's adorable face is covering a bit of the text so I just thought I'd mention it to be sure. Awesome Job!

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