A Thousand Splendid Suns Women's Rights Essay Example

A Thousand Splendid Suns Women's Rights Essay Example
📌Category: Literature, Novels
📌Words: 1252
📌Pages: 5
📌Published: 05 August 2020

A tool that gives a voice to those who have had theirs locked is literature. “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, it's a famous quote that illustrates how people are oppressed. Even though there are many opportunities and freedoms for men, the laws that are there to protect and acts as reasonable boundaries often end up as restraints that prevent one from reaching full potential.

There are many tools used to break the shackles that bind people, literature is one of them, it enables people to voice their inner thoughts or write about events in the world few would. A Thousand Splendid Suns, a novel by Khaled Hosseini, which is entirely about shining a light on the lives of Afghan women. Laila and Mariam, the main characters that are constrained and struggling to obtain the freedom that they once had. The novel, based on actual events and circumstances that happened in Afghanistan gives a view into an Afghanistan woman’s life through her perspective. Through works of literature, the oppressed can gain an outlet to tell others about their hardship.

In Afghanistan, before Taliban rule, women had more rights and freedom than they did during and after Taliban rule. Women went to school, got jobs, voted, wore miniskirts, went out without a male relative, and weren’t forced to stay home and take care of the house. Horia, an Afghan woman recalls, “'As a girl, I remember my mother wearing mini skirts and taking us to the cinema. My aunt went to university in Kabul.'”(Women in Afghanistan: the Back Story).

In the novel, women’s power is depicted numerous times throughout. The most memorable moments being when Mariam is talking to Jalil’s wives and the wives loosely had their hijab barely covering their hair. Additionally, further in the novel when Laila is being taught by a female who isn’t wearing a hijab at all. Afghanistan women, at the time still had chains holding them, few but they were confined nonetheless. However, these shackles were similar to the men’s, the laws were in place to regulate safety and education for all no matter the gender. Women at this time weren’t burdened with overbearing laws, they were free and happy, and Hosseini’s novel indicates girls enjoying life and visualizing about actual futures that were likely to happen, not fantasies that passed in moments.

Unfortunately, the Taliban took over Afghanistan, which is the ending of the authority of women and banning them from many of the privileges they previously had. The Taliban takeover is the pinnacle at which Afghan women are enthralled. Although the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996, women’s daily lives were first interrupted by the coup d'états and the Soviet Union subjugation in the 1970s. Following Soviet occupation, “civil conflict between Mujahideen groups and government forces in the '80s and '90s”(Women in Afghanistan: the Back Story) occurred. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini elaborated life during Soviet rule and the civil war following. During these times women still had their rights, however, they lost a majority of their freedom when the Taliban started their reign of control. 

The Taliban forbid women “to work, to leave the house without a male escort, to seek medical help from a male doctor.” (Life as an Afghan Woman). The hindering laws of the Taliban were rigorously enforced, for something as measly as forgetting to wear a burqa outside a woman would get lashed to the point that some ending up dying not too long after and some were left dealing with mental problems for the rest of their lives. Additionally, women who once had respectable jobs, helping others ended up having to become beggars and some even prostitutes.

In the novel, Hosseini emphasizes what life is like for Laila and Mariam during Taliban rule. Laila and Mariam are caged in the house almost all the time and even though they don’t want to they have to listen to everything Rasheed says, if they disobeyed, the Taliban would do nothing if Rasheed killed them as a result. Moreover, in the novel, when Laila is trying to leave the house alone to spend time with Aziza, who is at the time in the orphanage, when Laila is caught, the Taliban beats her mercilessly. Trampled by the laws, Afghan women suffer and Hosseini provides a view into their lives and struggles with A Thousand Splendid Suns, giving a voice to the restricted.

Nonetheless, Afghan women have been able to break free from the chains that suppress them, gaining back some of their former freedom. Currently, women in Afghanistan can have jobs and a role in politics, the future is improving by leaps and bounds for women. Recently, “millions of girls have been educated, female doctors and teachers work across the country, women have started businesses and supported their families and 25% of the country’s politicians are women.”(Graham-Harrison). Furthermore, some women are writing about their experiences and the experiences of other females who suffered the same treatment. Afghan women currently are changing their fates with their own hand so to give future generations of girls better lives, hopefully, one without suffering. 

Males are still preferred over females, so much so that some parents have their daughters cross-dress so they can enjoy a safer life. This practice is known as Bacha posh, these girls have similar benefits as boys, they can go shopping alone and don't have to cover their heads. Similarly, some places girls still are unable to go to school, and if they go to school they get pulled out to get married to a man in his 60s.

For some women little has changed while for others new opportunities are constantly opening. In poorer and rural communities, women are still oppressed, however, with women activists are working to shine a light on the situation of all women in Afghanistan to improve the lives of all women for generations. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, it depicts Laila is working hard to make life better for the orphanage kids and her family. Laila in the newspaper symbolizes a change from a pessimist to an optimistic point of view for women about the future, from being forced to hide in their homes to walking the streets proudly. This symbolism demonstrates the struggles of women and how they are breaking free from the chains that trap them. Therefore giving a glimpse of how life is improving for Afghan women. 

All things considered, literature is a voice for those shackled by the laws supposedly meant to help them, Afghanistan women lives and all their suffering has been told to the entire world through the use of literature. In the past when women weren’t maltreated, how they were forever scarred by the Taliban ruling, and the struggle they face trying to regain the privileges they once had. A Thousand Splendid Suns depicts everything, it is a novel that goes into depth about the lives of two women born in two extremely different families, yet they face similar problems and their fates are entwined with each other.

Laila is born into a loving family that cares about her education, meanwhile, Mariam is an unwanted child that is forced to live in seclusion with her mother. The lives of Laila and Mariam are a representation of the lives many Afghanistan women are forced to live, regardless of their family situation most women suffer from the same thing. This novel illustrates the hardship and struggles of those who are oppressed, yet also shows the joy and freedom those who have been repressed prior to being restrained and after as they work towards a better life. 

Works Cited

d'Aki, Loulou, and Nina Strochlic. “Inside the Lives of Girls Dressed as Boys in Afghanistan.” See How Girls Live As Boys in Afghanistan, 2 Mar. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2018/march/bacha-posh-gender-afghanistan/.

Graham-Harrison, Emma, and Akhtar Mohammad Makoii. “'The Taliban Took Years of My Life': the Afghan Women Living in the Shadow of War.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 Feb. 2019, www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/09/the-taliban-took-years-of-my-life-the-afghan-women-living-in-the-shadow-of-war.

“Life as an Afghan Woman.” Trust in Education, www.trustineducation.org/resources/life-as-an-afghan-woman/.

“Reality of Life in Afghanistan.” Trust in Education, www.trustineducation.org/why-afghanistan/life-in-the-villages/.

“Women in Afghanistan: the Back Story.” Amnesty International UK, 25 Nov. 2014, 6:13 p.m., www.amnesty.org.uk/womens-rights-afghanistan-history.


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