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Editorial: Social taboos

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Harassment covers a wide range of behaviors of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behavior that disturbs or upsets, and it is characteristically repetitive. In the legal sense, it is behavior that appears to be distributing or threatening. Sexual harassment is another big problem that exists in most culture, both in Asian and Western. It also refers to persistent and unwanted sexual advances, typically in the workplace, where the consequences of refusing are potentiality very disadvantageous to the victim. In Afghanistan, women and girls are suffering many forms of violence that one of which is street harassment, despite workplaces. There is a daily basis encounter between girls/women and strangers. Today (Wednesday) there was vehicle in Parwan-e-Seh area of Kabul, the capital city, shouting on a girl walking on the road. Street harassment is the most neglected form of violence in Afghanistan that has received neither the attention of domestic justice institutions nor the advocacy of women’s rights organizations and civil societies. Moreover, a number of female workers in southern Ghazni province complain social taboos, harassment and insecurity impede them from working for local media outlets. Shakila, one of the female journalists in Ghazni, has worked for three years for a local radio channel. But now, she has to stay at home. She told a local news agency that many challenges including telephonic threats from unidentified men forced her to leave her work. So, this is the worst kind of social taboo. “Most of our people think negatively about girls. They believe girls or women do anything they want after leaving homes. Some people sent me love messages and other harassing texts,” she charged. Sometimes women and girls endure harassment in a bid to protect their dignity. Not to bring their honor into question, they even don’t want to complain against harassment. But, it is need of the hour that they should go and complain against any sort of harassment in order to bring the culprit into the book. Over the past few years, several legal initiatives have sought to address the issue of harassment, but still no major gain. Harassment, whether it occurs within the family or educational institutions, in the workplace or the public sphere, is a little talked about phenomenon. The government has to designs strict laws to punish culprits and prevent girls and women of being sexually assaulted. It is up to government and women’s rights advocates to adopt what kind of measurement in order to tackle this social damage forever.