Twenty years ago, with the overthrow of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, many women stepped on the path of realizing women’s rights and realizing justice in Afghanistan. But how far did this path go after twenty years of efforts?
In this conversation, read about Adela Mohseni one of the human rights activists who played a role in planning and drafting laws and regulations to realize women’s rights with great endurance and perseverance.
Question: Thank you very much, Ms. Mohseni, for giving me the opportunity to interview. First of all, if you could introduce yourself to the audience of Afghan Women News Agency.
My name is Adela Mohseni. I was born in Kabul in 1972. During my childhood, I immigrated to Iran with my family after the Soviet
(USSR) attack on Afghanistan.
I lived in Mashhad, I went to school there and studied law and political science at Tabriz University, and then I worked with an organization cooperating with the United Nations for three years. And in 2002, I returned to Afghanistan and got a lawyer’s license and directly started working for women’s rights and was a defense lawyer in the Afghan courts, and besides that, I also played a role in drafting laws. In 2004, we formulated the law for the prohibition of violence against women, which was later approved and implemented and I played a role in drafting the personal status laws of Shiites, the marriage contract, the guardianship law for orphaned children, and the family law, which unfortunately failed before its approval. I am married with two children and currently live in London.
Question: Ms. Mohseni, tell us about the challenges of your education, how did immigrant children study in Iran in your era?
In the era when we were studying in Iran, all immigrants suffered from economic poverty and the majority of immigrant children were deprived of education due to poverty. And on the other hand, it was during the era of the Iranian revolution, and immigrant children were deprived of education for a while, but they were allowed to study again, and I was barely able to study, and then I was ranked 313 in the national entrance exam among several thousand people, and I entered the University of Tabriz.
In addition to these issues, during my student years, I also faced the pressure of public opinion, at that time it was a taboo for girls to stay away from their family and study in another city. Seeing the sufferings of my mother and sisters who were always victims of family violence, I decided to work for women and that’s why when I returned to Afghanistan, I got a lawyer’s degree and worked as a defense lawyer in the country’s courts and was directly involved in drafting laws. When I was working for women’s rights, it was very painful for me the sufferings that women suffered through the loopholes of religion. Women loved that religion and kept it in their hearts and worshiped it, but injustice was done to women through its loopholes. Therefore, we tried to establish women’s rights from the point of view of Islam and human rights conventions so that women have access to all rights and privileges and justice.
Question: Regarding justice and women’s rights, you said who did you follow as an example in this matter, and have you failed so far?
Since I was a child, I always thought about the life of Indira Gandhi, how she lived and how she got a place in the hearts of millions of people.
In all areas of my life, I modeled patience, endurance and perseverance from her, although I did not reach her personality.
But I still follow her path to achieve justice and women’s rights in my country.
Yes! I experienced many failures in 2004 when I was a candidate for parliament with a lot of votes. With the many votes I had received, my rights were lost due to the betrayal of those who were counting the votes. Some people who declared the candidates for the parliament as winners in exchange for money called me to pay a certain amount of money to get into the parliament, but I didn’t pay money and this made me fail despite having many votes and it was a failure experience.
I was once again a candidate for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and I was supposed to be presented to the parliament to get a vote of confidence, but unfortunately, on the day when I was supposed to go to the parliament for a vote of approval, another person was nominated as a candidate for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. This was also an experience for me. I know failure, although based on political biases and ethnic prejudices, I failed to go to the parliament for a vote of confidence, but their candidate did not receive a vote of confidence either. But those who always talked about human rights wasted the rights of many women like me.
All this and the injustice done to us women made me work hard for more important and fundamental work in the field of women.
When I was an independent and single girl, due to the pressure of public opinion, it made me progress less, which I also consider a failure experience for me.
But since today I was able to use my right to education and my right to work and be independent, I am happy for myself. I am a successful person because there were many women and girls like me who could have tried to get their rights, but they succumbed to the society’s disgusting traditions and could not make the slightest move to do secure their rights.
But my most successful work was my role in drafting laws for women’s rights, and I spoke on family law and marriage law in campaigns and television interviews and I informed the people. Unfortunately, this path has stopped with the arrival of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and all efforts to achieve women’s rights have been thwarted, but now the women of my country are facing a new season of fighting for their rights, and I hope that the women of Afghanistan will once again win this field.
Question: How affected are you by the arrival of the Taliban in Afghanistan?
My human rights activities were directly on the drafts of the law, and we referred to the Islamic texts and the Quran to compile it, and regarding the family law and marriage contracts from the Islamic point of view, when I spoke in campaigns and media interviews, the religious extremists and especially the Taliban were against it. Therefore, before the capture of Afghanistan by the Taliban, my life was threatened by them and I was affected. When I was campaigning for the family law and the marriage contract, I was threatened with death by the Taliban and I left Afghanistan in 2012, then I returned to Afghanistan in 2014, but unfortunately life was not peaceful, and due to security issues, I left Afghanistan again in 2015 and became a refugee in England. I was still waiting for peace and security in Afghanistan to come back to my country, but unfortunately the Taliban took over the country.
Question: What is your current assessment of the situation of women under Taliban rule and will the Taliban give up on women’s right to participate, work and study?
First, I don’t consider the Taliban as a government and they can’t even be called an Islamic Emirate. They are a terrorist group that came to loot Afghanistan and they have no plans for women and girls and even their governance style. They are only thinking about looting and killing people in the country. I am sure they will never be recognized, neither from the people nor from outside countries, we all know that the Taliban is gone, but its blackness will remain with the traitors and supporters of the Taliban. Afghan women are now under the rule of the Taliban in the most difficult conditions, from poverty and unemployment to forced and underage marriages.
School gates are closed to girls, women do not have the right to work, they do not have the right to choose clothing. All in all, Afghanistan is threatened by starvation.
Question: What is your biggest wish now and do you have a message for Afghan women?
My biggest wish is peace and tranquility in Afghanistan, so that all our classes and people can live without fear and worries and I have a message to the people of Afghanistan that they should be awake today or tomorrow the Taliban will leave, they should not allow women, children and civilians to be bombarded, the people of Afghanistan will not tolerate this much killing and violence any longer.
Ms. Mohsani, thank you for your presence in the interview with Afghan Women News Agency.
Interviewer: Latifa Sadat Mosavi
Translated by: Hussaini