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Women of the Vocational Training Centre overcome tribal traditions

hawca seminar

Although the women enrolled in the literacy course have taken a decisive step on the way to freedom and independence, many still face problems stemming from entrenched tribal tradition and domestic violence. OPAWC has sought the assistance of HAWCA (Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan), a group of volunteers established in January 1999 by a group of young Afghan women and men to assist with legal, medical and other aid.

In May 2014 HAWCA presented a series of seminars and training workshops in the OPAWC office about human rights, women rights, child rights, and the Law of Elimination of Violence against Women The main goal of the programs was to ensure that everyone in the society knows about these laws and how to defend their rights whenever they are being violated by anyone in the society or in any governmental office.

The women cooperated in discussion with interest and were happy to share their sad stories and find solutions to their miserable situation. In many cases the awareness programs led to a better relationship between male and female members of the families. Other cases were handed over to HAWCA lawyers and resolved with their assistance. The cases of Yalda and Shazia are two examples:

Yalda

Yalda is a young girl of 20 years from Badakhashan attending OPAWC's Literacy Course. One day the elders of her village came to her parents' home and asked her father to marry Yalda to Khalil, the son of a rich man in the village. Khalil was mentally ill, and Yalda did not want to marry him, but her father gave in to the pressure from the elders of the village and agreed to the marriage. Yalda's husband in his mental state took to continually beat her and sometimes attacked her with knives. Her father brought her to Kabul, where she was introduced to HAWCA. Yalda wanted a divorce, so HAWCA prepared the divorce papers. Khalil's father and brother came to Kabul and said that they do not agree with the divorce and they will try to tame Khalil; but Yalda did not agree. In the end OPAWC and HAWCA were able to finalize her divorce. Now Yalda says that she is happy; she lives with her father and continues her studies in OPAWC's Vocational Training Centre.

 Shazia

 Shazia is an 18 year old girl from Wardak. While she was attending OPAWC's Literacy Course her father decided to marry her to his friend's son. When Shazia was told about this arrangement she refused to marry the boy, but her father declared that she has no choice but to accept what her father is deciding for her. Shazia cried and told OPAWC that she does not want to marry the boy because she does not love him and that she wants to study for now. She said that if she is forced to marry the boy she will burn herself to death.

OPAWC introduced Shazia to HAWCA and asked HAWCA for help. HAWCA's defense lawyer and educational officer visited her home and explained to her father that it is against sharia law to marry someone against her consent and that it will destroy his daughter's life. They told him that her daughter will kill herself if he forced her to marry the man she does not love. After four visits her father decided to stop the marriage proceedings and thanked HAWCA for opining his eyes, and Shazia continues with her education.