The problematic culture of shame in Afghanistan
According to the Oxford dictionary, the meaning of shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour or a regrettable situation or action.
There is also a world view that some perform actions only for the sake of Paradise and Hell. They believe that if a person does good work, he or she will go to Paradise after this world. Like, if a person helps the poor physically or financially, he or she will go to Paradise, if one annoys a human or tortures them verbally, then he or she will go to hell. The second view is related to the concept of right and wrong. Even many people in the Western world believe in the idea of right and wrong. However, the majority of the people of Afghanistan perform many activities because of shame. I remember my engagement party where many women came. They wished me congratulations, and in return I thanked them. Suddenly all the sitting women got angry that why I did not feel shame? I was amazed and questioned them about what wrong I did to be ashamed. They said I must not have said thank you in return when they said congratulations, it is a kind of a shame. After my marriage, my daughter was born. I love her so much. I always get her in my lap and put her on my shoulder. Once when my uncle saw this, he got angry at me and asked if I do not feel ashamed. I said what is the reason to feel ashamed? He said I grew up in his presence, so I must not hug my daughter or put her on my lap in front of him. I also got angry with him and said if it is not appropriate to hold my daughter in my lap, why did you arrange my marriage?
There is one hardworking plumber. He has been fixing our taps of home for the last 6 years. Now, he is my very close friend. He got married last year. He has a son. Once he told me, I do not want to have more children for some years, so how to bring a gap? I told him about birth control. He even does not know about birth control. He said that he cannot even talk about birth control because he feels shame. I went to the chemist’s store and bought condoms for him. Sadly, a 22-year-old and his wife do not even have information even about birth control. We must not blame these people and youth, the problem is in the mentality of elders that they still live in the stone age.
I am a teacher by profession and humanitarian by passion. Many people know me well. One day, a British lady named Annie Singh texted me on social media that she wants to help school girls in Afghanistan. I asked what will you help, she said that she would help school girls with sanitary pads. Suddenly, my heart started beating. I told her if I will distribute pads or talk about this issue, people will stone me, because we live in a conservative society, not the modern world of Western.
Finally, I sum up my arguments that shame is a very bad thing. The majority of young boys and girls, men and women are destroyed, tortured and suffered due to shame. The government of Afghanistan, their neighbours and the international community must help in the education sector so that people will be well educated and have wonderful, happy and healthy life. They must say no to the shame concept and conservative society. Otherwise, shame will create continued problems and hurts generation after generation. Wishing heart-centred, authentic, wise, loving life choices for all people in Afghanistan.
News article written by: Farhad Zaheer lecturer by professsion and Humanitarian by passion.