Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Global Issues Novel Study: Post #5

The country I chose to look more into was Afghanistan, from the novel Lunch with Lenin. The Taliban, while in rule, were known for numerous human rights abuses. Even though now the taliban rule is over, several human rights violations continue to take place. Afghanistan does somewhat have a similar document, that is situated along the same lines as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Constitution promises equal rights for men and women, which is one thing that the charter also provides to all Canadian citizens. In Afghanistan, women are permitted to work outside the home, to engage in political activity. Also the Constitution requires each political party to nominate a certain number of female candidates. Even today, violence against women in Afghanistan is high although the situation is improving slowly as something is being done about it. Freedom of religion in Afghanistan has changed in recent years because the current government of Afghanistan has only been in place since 2002, after the fall of the Taliban.  
The Constitution of Afghanistan is dated January 23, 2004 and in three of its articles, it briefly states that Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary, and indivisible state. The religion of Islam shall be the leading and main religion of Afghanistan. Even though this is very true, followers of other faiths are free within bounds of the law to exercise and perform their religious practices. In the constitution, it has also been made very clear that no law shall interfere with the doings of Islam. In Canada, under the charter, citizens are provided with the chance to practice whichever religion they choose freely. This is what makes Canada a multicultural and diverse society. Afghanistan, with much of a market economy, does provide its citizens with Fundamental freedoms as well. This includes things such as; any kind of discrimination and privilege amongst the citizens of Afghanistan is prohibited. But, is this really the case? In many stories heard and told about the country, are people really guaranteed these rights? Just because they are put into the constitution, does this mean this what's been happening in Afghanistan? 
In my novel, Lunch with Lenin, a family is confronted for growing and then selling opium. This family, like many others in Afghanistan are doing this merely to make a living and have no intentions of causing harm to others. It is just their income source, something they cannot survive without. So thus they make harvesting opium their business in order to pay off various debts. When they are confronted, their land where the opium is harvested is destroyed and when they cannot think of anything else to pay off the debts, they plan to take the daughter to the city, and sell her to another man. While reading this story, I was not at all surprised as I believe it to be mostly accurate as to what takes place in Afghanistan currently. Although the novel didn’t specify a moment in time when this story took place, I assumed it was sometime before 2002, during the Taliban rule. This is because during the taliban rule, the opium that was grown became much more limited as they wiped out most opium farms as was done in the story. This was done, because they believed that growing and harvesting opium went against the religion they worship, Islam.
Although the constitution act wasn’t put into action until two years after the taliban rule ended. Before this there was a Constitutions of the past that has been in place since 1990. This document, however did guarantee some of the same rights and freedoms as the new one does. This includes religious things such as the right to practice any religion freely within bounds, basic equality rights and many others. Although rights such as gender equality and women rights was not in action back then, they were recently put into the new constitution.
If the charter was put into action in the scenario that took place in the novel, it would work to punish those who were committing the crime; harvesting opium. But they would be innocent until proven guilty. They would be given the chance to be put on a fair trial, and would be given an attorney of their choice. They would also be given fair treatment until convicted and proof was found of the crime they commited. In conclusion, although Afghanistan's constitution is a lot different that what we know as Canadians under the charter, it is moving closer to a much more fair community in terms of human rights.


  1. Hi Haniya! Reading through your posts, I got a strong sense of what your book was about and more specifically, what "Pretty Flowers" was about. Your connection to consumerism, economics, and drug use and production was very insightful and definitely got me thinking. Often, we think about how our decisions in developed countries affect people in developing countries, but I have never actually thought about the opposite! It seems like both sides are affecting each other; that was something really interesting to read about. :)

    Also, your look into individual rights in Afghanistan seemed pretty thorough! I thought it was interesting that the Constitution of Afghanistan said that Islam should be the main and leading religion. It seems pretty obvious that nobody really cares about freedom to choose religion, and it seems that it was just put in to satisfy people. Although I think within the country, it is still believed that you have to follow the Islam religion. I do agree with you though, that the country is definitely moving towards a more fair country.

    I was also not surprised when you described what happened in the story. It's definitely a very crude violation of both basic human rights, and equality rights. Do you think that since the fall of the Taliban things like this have decreased?

    I was also wondering, are there any democratic and/or legal rights listed in the Constitution of Afghanistan? It would be an interesting thing to look into.

  2. Hey Hanyia! All the posts are well written and gave me insight to your main issue in your book. I like how you talked about the differences between the Constitution, what happened in the past, and what is happening now. It gives the reader an comparison between the Constitution and reality. I was wondering, do you believe that the control of the Talibal is the cause of the Constitution to become less important? What other factors do you think could have contributed to cause the Constitution to become less important? I think a factor could be that the government didn't enforce it.