Alternet - February 14, 2008
Posted by Lucinda Marshall
Feminist Peace Network
and Often Forced
The average age of an Afghan widow is just 35 years, and 94 percent of them are unable to read and write.
The following report from IRIN tells the ghastly truth of what it is like for women in the aftermath of decades of militarism in Afghanistan:
"There over 1.5 million widows out of an estimated 26.6 million people in Afghanistan, according to Beyond 9/11, a US-based nonprofit group that provides direct financial support to Afghan widows and their children. Some 50,000-70,000 widows live in Kabul alone, it says.
The government of Afghanistan does not have an accurate figure for the number of widows in the country, but some officials say there are more than 1.5 million.
Most widows illiterate
"The average age of an Afghan widow is just 35 years, and 94 percent of them are unable to read and write," Deborah Zalesne, a board member of the Beyond 9/11 and a law professor at the City University of New York, told IRIN.
"About 90 percent of Afghan widows have children, and the average widow has more than four," Zalesne added. To survive many Afghan widows weave carpets, do tailoring, beg or even engage in prostitution
In urban areas where women have better access to employment and other services than in conservative rural areas, an average working widow earns about $16 a month, experts estimate."
Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including, Counterpunch, AlterNet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, the Progressive, Countercurrents, Z Magazine, Common Dreams, In These Times and Information Clearinghouse. She also blogs at WIMN Online and writes a monthly column for the Louisville Eccentric Observer.