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Hard Life of Afghanistan Children and People in General

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It is widely known that Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, where there are terroristic threats(and not uncommon to see attacks) almost daily, and the mortality rates of infants are high. There are many different causes for Afghanistan failing as a state. Some of which, include: a lack of civil liberties or human rights, minimal to nonexistent civil rights and discrimination, the prominence of terrorism, and a lack of healthy practices and medical care. In some ways, a few of these causes are linked; for example, the lives of children can fit into almost all of these categories. The country of Afghanistan has a Constitution that regulates and provides laws for its citizens. Unfortunately, many officials and security forces are either unaware or do not enforce such laws, leading to a disobeying and crumbling country.

One of the reasons that Afghanistan failed as a state, was their lack of human rights. It is known that their country possesses a widespread corrupted government, and citizens in Afghanistan can be criminalized for speaking out against it. To name a few examples, there are reports of citizens being killed by the government, with no judicial order in place. Citizens have also faced arrest without any reason given. There is a lack of investigation for cases of violence against women. There has also been reports of many disappearances of people, torture, and detention. Journalists face violence in Afghanistan, and finally, sexual abuse against children is prominent in this country.

The Constitution of Afghanistan prohibits the use of torture and violence against its citizens, yet, there were many reports of torture, inhuman or degrading punishment committed by those in power, like government officials, security forces, those in charge of detention centers, and police. Of the 349 detainees interviewed of the National Directorate for Security and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces(ANDSF), 39 percent of them reported torture, or other forms of abuse. As listed on the US Department of State’s website, the types of abuse included: “severe beatings, electric shocks, prolonged suspension by the arms, suffocation, wrenching of testicles, burns by cigarette lighters, sleep deprivation, sexual assault, and threats of execution.” Additionally, there were reports of the Taliban cutting off hands and feet of suspected criminals.

The conditions of prisons or detention centers were very poor, due to overcrowding, unsanitary practices, and lack of access to medical services. There have also been reports of members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces creating private prisons in order to use for the abuse of detainees. The media has reported the lack of food and water being given to prisoners. However, some people found an adequate supply of food and water in prisons run by The General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Centers (GDPDC). Still, they had a restricted budget when it came to the GDPDC’s nationwide program to feed prisoners. Many detainees had to rely on family members to supply their basic necessities for them. Additionally, in local prisons and detention centers, there was a lack of separate facilities, based on gender and age. “The largest country prison, Pul-e Charkhi, held 11,527 prisoners, detainees and children of incarcerated mothers[…] which was more than double the number it was designed to hold”(US Department of State). Abuse is also prominent by prison officials. During a protest made by women who were speaking against their continued imprisonment, 15 out of 60 of them were beaten.

Children who had been detained mainly did not have the right to be considered “innocent until proven guilty”. They also had no right to know what charges they were being prosecuted for, and had no access to any legal aid. Sometimes, detained children were victims of abuse, rather than considered criminals. If there was no shelter for the child to go to, they would be sent to juvenile rehabilitation centers, where they had little access to food, water, healthcare, and education. They were placed here, as they could not return home to their families of suspected abuse.

On the other hand, women were often arrested and imprisoned wrongfully for reasons such as social offenses, which were not crimes. The justification would be to charge them with “the intent to commit zina”, or having sexual relations before marriage. Sometimes, police would arrest women for this matter, on behalf of their family members. Like children, women would sometimes be placed into detention centers, to protect them from abusive situations, whether it be from family, or a spouse.

Another cause for the failing of Afghanistan would be discrimination, or a lack of civil rights. Those who were the victims of discriminatory practices included: women, children, those who were disabled, ethnic minorities, and those identifying themselves as included in the LGBT spectrum(regarding sexual orientation or gender identity). Examples of the types of acts committed against these people were: physical and sexual abuse, lack of knowledge of rights, and limited access to opportunities or benefits.

In Afghanistan, prosecutors and judges were commonly unaware of the EVAW law, which criminalized 22 acts of violence against women. These acts include: “rape, battery, or beating; forced marriage; humiliation; intimidation; and deprivation of inheritance”(US Department of State). This law calls for a prison sentence ranging from 16 to 20 years for the abuser, if committing a crime such as rape. Additionally, if the victim dies because of their acts, they will face a death sentence. Law enforcement and authorities did not completely enforce this law. Furthermore, the new penal code(as of February 2018), prohibits and criminalizes assault. However, there were still thousands of reports of women suffering from abuse, who were victims of people such as family members or institutions of state. Also under this code, if a man sees his wife committing adultery and injures or kills either person involved, it is seen as him defending his honor, and he cannot go to jail for more than two years.

Most women do not seek assistance or legal action against their perpetrators, because they were either unaware of their rights, afraid they were going to be sent back to their abuser, or feared they would be prosecuted. As previously mentioned, those women who did seek assistance and feel that they needed protection, were sent to prisons because of the lack of shelters. However, The Ministry of Women’s Affairs sometimes organized arranged marriages for women who could not be sent back to their family.

The children of Afghanistan also face a lack of civil rights. For example, children will only be considered a citizen if the father grants it to his child; Just being born in Afghanistan(if only the mother is present in the relationship) does not give them the right to citizenship. Additionally, children in the country face discriminatory practices, such as sexual and physical abuse, hindered access to education, forced marriages, institutionalization, and displacement.

There are many children in Afghanistan who do not attend school, regardless of the fact that they provide it for free up to and including the college level. The reason for the lack of attendance can be attributed to violence(especially against girls), sexual abuse from teachers and school officials, lack of security, hygiene, privacy, and the fact that there were less schools built for girls than for boys. Many parents refused to press charges against the perpetrators of abuse due to shame, and because they felt that nothing would come of it.

When it comes to child abuse, there are several reports of security forces sexually abusing young boys and girls. Although there are laws against these type of acts, it is still common for younger generations to be exploited and abused by those in authoritative positions. To emphasize the issue, there is even a term called “bacha bazi”, which refers to a practice in which men will exploit boys for sexual, and sometimes social reasons. Associated with this act is child pornography, which is not specified under the law that criminalizes pornography as a whole.

Those citizens of Afghanistan who can be described as ethnic, national, or racial minorities also faced discrimination. Those that were considered minorities included Shia Hazaras, Sikhs and Hindus. Tensions between groups often resulted in killings. Afghanistan was made up of 900 Sikhs and Hindus. They faced discrimination in regards to harassment, verbal and physical abuse, as well as limited access to government jobs. Shia Hazaras faced discrimination in the form of illegal taxation, forcing of labor, physical abuse, and detention. In the first half of 2018, there were 6 major attacks reported that targeted Shia Hazaras.

Finally, the law does not prohibit discrimination against those who identify within the LGBT community, especially people who are involved in same-sex relationships. There have been numerous reports of police and societal harassment and violence committed against those deemed homosexual. Additionally, members of the LGBT community faced other discriminatory practices such as prohibiting certain access to health care, and being fired from their jobs because of their identity.

Another major impact on Afghanistan as a failing state is the prominence of terrorism. Most recently to note, was a suicide bomber who took the lives of 55 people and injured 94, on November 20th, 2018. Those victims in attendance to the gathering were Muslims who were commemorating the birth anniversary of the prophet Mohammed. Other modes of terrorism in Afghanistan include abductions, torture, trafficking children, and punishment. It is noted that terrorism is the cause of the majority of civilian deaths. 67% of the attacks on Afghanistan can be accredited to anti-government groups, such as the Taliban and ISIS, and 18% pro-government forces(US Department of State).

In 2017, there were 4,672 deaths in Afghanistan due to terrorism; the number of attacks that year, was 1,171(Statista). Some of the attacks have been suicide bombings(which there has been a significant increase in), while others are things such as gunmen open-firing on government officials and civilians. The government of Afghanistan has been accused of cooperating with terrorists; the protest centered around this accusation, was due to the attack on May 31st, where a truck bomb exploded(killing 150 and injuring 500), and no group claimed responsibility.

In addition to killings, there are incidences of torture, abuse, punishment and abductions in Afghanistan. Former member of Parliament, Piram Qul, claimed that, in addition to killing four police officers during 2016, also tortured detainees and jail residents. Anti-government forces also punished civilians, one incident in which Taliban members killed four civilians who were being accused of cooperating with government officials. The rate of kidnappings has decreased since 2016, yet there were still reports of 467 civilians abductions in the first half of 2017.

As for the use of children in security forces, there have been instances of child requirement by the Afghan National Security Forces(ANDSF), pro-government militias and government security forces in Kandahar Province. The Taliban in Kandahar had used children for fighting on the front line, setting IEDs(improvised explosive device), suicide bombers, and using them as human shields. The Taliban would trick children into joining them by promising money, and force them to become suicide bombers. Additionally, in some ANDSF cases, children were being used as slaves, or for sexual purposes. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan(UNAMA) had documented requirements of 14 boys by security forces within the first half of 2017, and 166 had been involved in attacks against the government. However, as of August 2017, there are 21 active Child Protection Units to further prevent the recruitment of minors.

The final cause for Afghanistan failing as a state would be the lack of accessibility and healthy practices of medical care, and personal hygiene. The need for healthcare in Afghanistan has been on the rise over the past two decades, on behalf of the physical and mental effects that war has had on civilians. Even though there are a little over 100 hospitals across Afghanistan, patients still choose to travel to countries such as India and Pakistan for more advanced treatment options. As of May 2018, the population of Afghanistan is 29.7 million people(World Health Organization). Of these people, 47.5% are under the age of 15, while those 65 years or older makeup 2.6% of the population(World Health Organization). According to a data set on Statista.com, the life span expectancy in Afghanistan is around 60 years of age. At birth, girls have a life expectancy of 64%, while males have a 62% life expectancy rate. Additionally, per 10,000 people, there are only 2.7 physicians in Afghanistan.(World Health Organization). Are these numbers due to the fact that 73% of people have to pay for their healthcare out of pocket, or because only 39% of the population are using improved sanitation facilities(World Health Organization)?

Children in Afghanistan are at an extremely high risk of contracting HIV; the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS(UNAIDS) estimate that the number of cases of HIV are likely in the thousands, although only 504 has been reported since 2008(Unicef). In Afghanistan, there are more than 70,000 children who live on the street, begging for money in attempt to support their families. Often, they are picked up by groups who will use them for sex, and likely introduce them to drugs, likes heroin, and use them via intravenous methods. By taking heroin through an IV, it makes people more susceptible to contracting HIV. It is also common to find these needles while sifting through trash, which children may be doing in order to find scrap to keep them and their families alive.

It is important to note that the country of Afghanistan has programs and organizations behind them, working hard to rebuild the state, such as previously mentioned UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, several NGOs(Non-government organizations), Food for the Hungry, and the Afghan Women’s Mission, to name a few(Afghan Analyst). However, terrorism is still very prominent in Afghanistan, and so is the existence and growing issue of a corrupted government; there is still a long ways to go before Afghanistan can join the modern world and rebuild itself as a state again.

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