“In 2016, a rocket launcher was given as dowry of a girl in an insecure area of Ghor province,” says Nuria Ahmadi, a member of Women Network in the province. She says in another case 15 Kalashnikovs were given as girl’s dowry.
Insecurity, war, and ethnic conflict encourage many families in parts of Ghor province to receive weapons as part of their daughters’ dowries. Many families in Ghor willingly receive weapons as dowry—which has turned into a common practice usually exercised by families.
At times, these weapons turned out to be used as tools of exerting violence even murder against brides, say officials from the Department of Women’s Affairs and the Provincial Office of the Human Rights Commission in Ghor.
Statistics from the Ghor Department of Women Affairs show that there have been 73 cases of violence against women in the province this year (solar year). Three of them have been killed by weapons. Officials from these departments say that they have only access to Firoozkouh, Laal wa Sarjangal, and Dawlatyar districts. Cases of violence against women remain unreported and hidden in the remaining seven districts of the province for lack of accessibility.
Halima Polad, a member of Ghor Provincial Council, says easy access to weapon has led to increase deadly violence against women. She added that selling women is a very common custom in this province. Girls are sold in exchange for weapons and money. “When for the very first time, the groom’s family is invited to bride’s, they offer the bride’s father a weapon,” Ms. Polad says.
“The latest case of murdering woman dates back to 20 days ago when a 9-year-old kid mistakenly killed his 27-year-old mother in Shuhada Tapa of Firouz Koh,” says Farida Nasseri, head of the Women Department in Ghor.
According to Ms. Nasseri, illegal weapon trade is rampant in Firouz Koh, the capital city, and in all other districts of the province.
Naser Khaze, the governor for Ghor province, however says majority of Afghan families have weapon in the province. “There might be cases of weapons exchanged for dowry but we have not received any report from our official sources and our security agencies.”
Weapons in the hand of ordinary people is a point of concern, he said.
The insurgent Taliban maintain full control over many districts of Ghor while the Afghan government have no power in the areas controlled by the insurgents.
Local conflict and insecurity are said to be the main reasons behind weapon trade in the province.
Mr. Khaze, however, says there has been a dramatic reduction in local conflict in the past two years.
The government is incapable of maintaining state sovereignty and collecting weapons from irresponsible armed people in Ghor, says Halima Polad. “Our major concern is that the government cannot take control of the people. Weapons are smuggled from the southern provinces of the country. Most of these weapons come from Helmand.”
“Weapons are brought from the mountains and arduous roads by smugglers and motorcyclists. Kalashnikovs and night-vision-goggles are also imported from Pakistan,” says the governor for the province.
Violence against women in Ghor is on rise. They are subject to domestic violence, forced and child marriages. Rights activists say many Afghan families in rural Ghor province see women as a sheer object.