Afghan doctor challenges Gallup Poll claiming “nearly half of Afghan women would like to leave the country”

An Afghan woman in a burqa near Salang Tunnel, Hindu Kush mountains.
(Photo by Paula Bronstein/ for the Wall Street Journal)

Dr Khaula Bint e Abdul Aziz, who resides in Afghanistan, was not happy on reading an article by Julie Ray entitled, Inside Afghanistan: Nearly Half of Afghan Women want to leave, which she feels needs challenging. Ray highlights the findings of a recent Gallup poll stating the following,

  • A record-high 41% of all Afghans say they would like to leave
  • Women account for rising numbers who would like to migrate
  • 47% of Afghan women would leave if they could

See link below,

https://news.gallup.com/poll/266897/inside-afghanistan-nearly-half-afghan-women-leave.aspx

On the morning of election day, strongly opposed by the Taliban, Dr Khaula Bint e Abdul Aziz (who does not intend to vote) provides an opposing view of life for women in Afghanistan. She has spent time in the west but states she has no desire to relocate and writes as follows:-

“Nearly half of Afghan women want to leave the country”: A Big Fat Lie!

A recent Gallup surveys show that ‘’nearly half of Afghan women would like to leave the country.”

The media dishes out what they are dictated. With America on its knees now and letting out its frustration by bombing weddings, of course such Gallup polls would be a good distraction.

Afghans love Afghanistan, they are proud to be Afghanis. Their emotions are not only driven by strong feeling of patriotism but also because they consider Afghanistan as a citadel of Islam. Decades ago this dream did come into realization with Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan establishing sharia law/Islamic doctrine throughout the country. That was a glorious era. The country was full of peace and Afghan men and women enjoyed complete freedom within the limits set by Allah. Muslims from all over the world were pouring into this fresh, new born Emirate with an enthusiasm to help rebuild. Even finance companies of non-Muslims were interested in investing in this fertile country full of minerals and other resources. I wish a Gallup survey had been done then, I am sure it would read along the lines of ‘”nearly half of the Muslim world wants to reside in Afghanistan.”

You might be wondering who am I to challenge this ‘’un-biased survey’’? Well, I belong to an Afghan family residing in the heart of Afghanistan. I have been around the country and have met hundreds if not thousands of rural and urban Afghan women. I live with them, eat with them and they freely express their inner thoughts to me. Afghan women love their country and they love Islam. They are proud of their culture and they are loyal to the warriors of Islam who are the saviours of Afghanistan. So I decided to ask Afghan women from various parts of Afghanistan, would they like to leave this war torn country? Unlike the above Gallup survey which must be funded by international powers in order to get their desired results, my survey is self-initiated with a desire to state the truth because as a Muslim I stand for truth and never ‘’take crap from anyone’’.

Here are the results summarised:-

Afghan women residing in remote, rural and urban areas unanimously state that they would like to stay in this land of their forefathers, although they would love to visit Pakistan more often to see family members also located there. Most are residing in the Taliban controlled areas. I further inquired of them, would they like to see Taliban rule replaced by some kind of Kabul style government? They strongly rejected this, instead they expressed a desire to rekindle the glorious era of Emirates. Let me quote here their words as follows,

‘’We are Afghanis and this is our land. We have the right to live here the way we wish, similarly as Americans live freely in their country. The right of freedom of our grandparents was taken away by Russians and now our rights are being snatched away by Americans. Why they don’t leave us alone? If we have a problem in our country then let us solve it, why did you invade our country and for the last 18 years or so you are trying to ‘’teach us’’ how to live by bombing our homes and killing our children, women and men.’’

The Gallup survey further stated, ‘’a fight for the rights and dignity of women’’, they claimed that Afghan women were the least satisfied women in the world with regarding the freedom to choose what they do with their lives. So, I asked a group of Afghan women, whose spokesperson said,

‘’We don’t know what they mean when they talk about freedom. We are slaves of Allah. We offer complete submission to Allah and His laws. We are free to worship Allah and in this we are not restricted by our men, instead they encourage us. Our homes are our kingdom and we are the queens of this kingdom and we are treated like queens by our men. We don’t have to go out like other women to make a living, All Praise to Allah our respected men have kept us away from such ordeal. However, if needed we do work in fields beside our men, fetch water and perform small jobs outside our four walls without any fear. We are free to visit friends and family, we enjoy family gatherings. We feel at ease in our own village. People of same village are like one big family and we have very strong family system where men and women respect each other and try to execute their duties fearing Allah only. So I am surprised when they say Afghanis would prefer to live in America, Turkey or any other country. We don’t even feel comfortable when we go to any nearby village and wish to return to our own village as soon as possible. We are encouraged to learn Islam and many of us have opened madrassas for girls at home to spread the light of Islam. Some of us are involved in small businesses run at home and we make our own money and our men don’t ask us for money but encourage us to spend it the way we wish. If we get sick our men try their best to provide us with health care. So, why would we wish to leave this blessed land? What else is freedom?’’

Another false claim by this Gallup survey was that Afghan women are fearful that they would lose what freedoms they do have as the Taliban continues to take more control over their country. So here is what Afghan women have to say,

’With invaders came bloodshed and crimes. We are dying to see a peaceful moment in this land. Americans are barbaric. They bomb our children, women and elders. We are living under continuous fear day and night. Our men cannot come home to us. However, when we hear the good news that Taliban by help of Allah have taken control of more areas, a ray of hope rekindles in our hearts that if Allah wills soon our heroes will force oppressors out of this country forever.’’

An old lady raised a good point. She said that if this was true that Afghan women are living an oppressed life under Taliban control as claimed by media then why would their women stay loyal to them and look after their children, cattle and property when Taliban are gone for months fighting enemies of Allah. They have a chance to run away to these NGO’s and shelter homes opened and publicised as ‘’freedom homes for Afghan women’’. But the truth is that they wait anxiously for their men, they pray to Allah to give victory to Taliban, and they ask Allah’s punishment and wrath on enemies of Islam.

END

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She was a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

About Carol Anne Grayson

Blogging for Humanity.... Campaigner/researcher global health/human rights/drones/WOT/insurgency http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/PO/experts/Health_and_Wellbeing.aspx Exec Producer of Oscar nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad, currently filming on drones.
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