You may be sick of feminism or dislike the influence of technology but without them ordinary women would see very little justice in a world still run by men
Some of you may recall BBC Newsnight trending on Twitter after a documentary entitled ‘The Killing of Farkhunda’ detailed the brutal and tragic murder of a 27-year-old female, Farkhunda Malikzada at a mosque in March 2015 in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Farkhunda, a teacher of Islamic Studies, was caught up in an argument in the street with a male caretaker on the way to her Quran reciting class. The argument was over his selling of paper which bore religious verses; paper, he claimed, held magical powers. Farkhunda is reported to have claimed it to be ‘un-Islamic’ practice. To this the caretaker began to shout ‘This woman is an American and she has burned the Quran’. Almost immediately, footage captured on mobile phones shows crowds of men clamouring around the pair and joining the caretaker in throwing accusations at Farkhunda, who continued to deny the allegations. The situation escalated and Farkhunda, at the hands of approximately 150 men, was severely beaten — before being briefly assisted by the police — and then dragged up to the roof of a mosque, thrown-off, beaten again with wood and stone, run-over and then dragged 200 metres by a car, before being burnt and, finally, thrown into the nearby river.
Afghanistan’s track record on gender equality doesn’t make for the best reading. 2013 saw a reported 20 per cent increase in violence towards women, whilst in February 2014 a law was passed meaning family members didn’t have to stand as witnesses in cases of domestic violence. Human rights groups have called the Elimination of Violence Against Women law as ‘poor’ and there is yet to be any effective legislation, under the Constitution of Afghanistan, which protects the rights and freedoms of its women. Sahra Mosawi, a women’s rights activist, claims ‘Nothing has changed’ since Farkhunda’s death.
From what we saw with the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign in Nigeria and on the streets of Kabul, where only women carried Farkhunda’s coffin, it seems feminism and technology are an effective way of dealing with cases of extreme religious patriarchies. The spreading of information through modern technologies is empowering people and, in particular, women worldwide. When Farkhunda’s body was carried through Kabul on the backs of women, in revolutionary defiance of male efforts to intervene, the world saw.
‘We are all Farkhunda’ was chanted by men and women side by side at one of Afghanistan’s biggest ever demonstrations. We need to show solidarity and use technology to aid feminism wherever gender injustice reigns.