Unfounded Claims Against Afghan Women’s Shelters Shake Women’s Rights Movement

The already precarious Women’s Rights Movement in Afghanistan has to overcome yet another obstacle. Nasto Naderi, a notoriously controversial television host in Afghanistan, has come out with a series of comments condemning the country’s women’s shelters. Naderi claims that these shelters encourage behavior that violates Islamic law, although he has yet to show proof of such claims. Prior to his last statement, Naderi had shown footage of a family guidance center. He then showed footage of women who work for a program called Women for Afghan Women entering their offices. Despite the fact that no one has substantiated Naderi’s claims, his recent campaign has those who work at the shelters both nervous and defiant, says a new article on The Daily Beast.

Huma Safi, who is involved with Women for Afghan Women’s programs, commented to the Daily Beast, “educated people know Nasto Naderi—they know not to believe a word he is saying. But the uneducated people—the people who have no information on what shelters are doing and the work that women’s organizations are doing—they may believe him.” It is these “uneducated” people that Safi fears will start to doubt the shelter’s work. One senior official commented anonymously to The Daily Beast that “Some donors are already pulling out.” 

Safety concerns; calls for prosecution

People are concerned that Naderi’s claims will create new problems. Advocates for women in Afghanistan are concerned that rumors of peace talks with the Taliban mean that the country is becoming more conservative and as a result, women’s rights will fall by the wayside. Women for Afghan Women has gone on the offensive after Naderi’s remarks, requesting that government officials prosecute Naderi for risking the safety of their workers after he displayed their faces on television earlier this month. 
In addition, they contacted the ministry of culture and information after Naderi’s broadcast. They were referred to the attorney general’s office and have a meeting with government officials scheduled for later in the week. Although the Afghani government has publicly supported women’s rights to jobs and education, President Hamid Karzai created a government commission last year to look into the services provided by shelters.

Standing fast

Still, Afghan women show no signs of slowing down. The need for programs like Women for Afghan Women is affirmed by the statistics. In 2008, over 80 women set themselves on fire in the region of Herat. The Human Rights Watch stated that “87 percent of female respondents had undergone “forced marriage or at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence.” As Huma Safi said “We will advocate and we will fight for this because there is an urgent need for shelters. If there is no shelter, then what will happen to those women who are suffering from violence?” Still, concerns linger among Afghan women, as Maria Bashir, the only female chief prosecutor, expressed, “Our government wants to talk with the Taliban about peace and no one is talking about women’s rights.”


Photo thanks to ISFA Media via Flickr

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Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle4 years ago

Looks like Nasto may be their Glenn Beck, talking trash with no proof, and trouble ensues.

Those are brave women. Even under the best of circumstances, they can be attacked for being "uppity." The laws in those countries are for "face" only, and women are treated like dung.

Gloria W.
Gloria W.4 years ago

good luck!!!

Terry Mckinney
Terry Mckinney4 years ago

I always shudder when we go into another culture and start telling them how to live their lives like we do.These are for the most part,stone age people,who have a long record of ill treating women,from where we stand.It is also true that their daughters turn western very quickly.Here,with our large arab and muslim populations there have been killings.If such clashes occur here,where the men feel without power,imagine how they must feel in their own land?Also this was framed very early on as a holy war.Christians vs Muslims.Foolish,stupid and typically GWBush!

Harriet S.
Harriet S.4 years ago

You can help these brave women! Here's the Women for Afghan Women Web site:


Madeline KM
Madeline KM4 years ago

Women the world over should be watching and waiting to protect women against such claims. Men certainly do seem to be becoming more threatened.

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush4 years ago

Ladies of Afghanistan must be very careful.

As the male population feels more threathened, they will perpetrate more abuse and restrictions on their females. These men are terrified of a woman's independence. They are too insecure to deal with it.

Women from such patriarchal societies have one of two choices.
1. They can stay, tolerate the abuse and possibly become martyrs.
2. They can desert their homeland, which is not an easy thing to do.

Either of these decisions are extremely arduous.
Don't you just love it, when people use religion as an excuse for their behavior?

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

Best of luck to them.

wendy s.
wendy sheridan4 years ago

I wish power, and God's Strenth to these woman... thanks for keeping us up to date.

ruth a.
ruth a.4 years ago

Rachel Taylor, I was thinking exactly the same thing!

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Baldes4 years ago

I was also thinking this television host sounds like their version of Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh. Just with much much worse consequences for these already suffering women.