The field work research experience had a remarkable impact on my personal and academic life. First of all it helped me to develop my confidence and social skills. This project gave me a chance to reach Afghanistan’s ethnic diversity and meet Afghan people from different socio economic and academic backgrounds. In addition, since I am living in a separate Hazara community, for this project I had to go beyond the circle of my community and reach people from different ethnic backgrounds. This act of entering to another part of the city where I was seen as an outsider was a big challenge and great experience to build my confidence and improve my interaction skills by meeting new people. Moreover, in a personal level, this great opportunity also helped me to challenge the socio-stereotypical of being a woman in Afghanistan. While the community that I came from is still bounded with the traditional view of Purdah, I got the chance to go beyond those boundaries and not only reach my goal but also create an opportunity for other young girls to stand out for their lives. My partner and I went to Kabul University to reach people from different ethnic backgrounds and request them to join our project. we both went to the department of sociology since my partner had some friends there. He went in to ask his Pashtun friends if they could come out so that we both could explain about the project but it was so shocking for me that his friends did not accept to talk with me. They did not accept the interview and later my partner explained that for them it is difficult to break the tradition of Purdah. Although they were all in the higher education, still they were bounded with certain customs and traditional beliefs. This made me to think about the huge negative impact of old tradition on young generation and its impact on the long term development of Afghanistan.
Moreover, conducting in-depth interviews helped to better understand the dominant view of society about position of men and women. Based on statistics related to the growth of education in Afghanistan, I assumed that great changes in terms of gender equality must have happened during the last five years. However, listening to my participants I realized that education can help for raising awareness about basic human rights, but as long as clergy men’s rule the country with their misinterpretations of the Quran, education cannot bring a deep change in people’s mind. Based on the data from interviews, most of the participant’s beliefs and thoughts are highly manipulated by fall dominant religious talks and interpretations. While asking questions related to the role of men and women in society, domestic violence, and women owning property (land), I realized that almost all of the participant’s answers were through a religious point of view. This can have a positive and at the same time negative impact on individuals mind. As I witnessed, when people’s mind are tie with dominant religious interpretations they are afraid to deny or criticize anything, because they think of it as a sacred thing that have been told or written in Quran. Therefore, this can have a negative impact on how individuals with higher education would still be bounded with stereotypical view of women as devaluated object and whose only appropriate place to be is at home. On the other hand, appropriate translation, interpretation and understanding of religious beliefs can have a positive impact on society and men’s attitude and perception of women as property and objects. For instance, while some of my participant explained the position and rights of women in Islam as equal to men, some others defined women as secondary and subservient to men.
In addition, it is also important to mention that Afghan men do talk about freedom and women’s rights in terms of education an employment, but it is always about and for “other” women. Throughout the interviews, I found out that although some of the male participant supports and talks about equality and women’s rights, none of their talks are applied on women of their own families. For instance, my partner and I interviewed a family that I was familiar with. The final data from the family left us speechless. The male participant of the family focused a lot on the idea of quality and domestic violence as an unforgivable crime and inhumane act, however, based on the data of the female participant we got to know that women of that family were not only deprived from basic human rights but were also abused and beaten. The female participant shared her experience of domestic violence and said that due to the extreme abusive violence of her husband during her pregnancy, one of her children was born with walking disability. My participant broke in to tears and it was difficult for me to handle the situation as I did not expected to be in that kind of situation. However, as a woman who belongs to the same community, it was easy for me to feel her pain and help her not to give up and stand for the well-being of her children. In general, at some points of the interview most of the male participants were trying to pretend that they are open minded and in favor of women’s rights.
As a woman one of the main challenges that I faced was the problem of insecurity. This was a big concern for my family too, but only when I had to go to the other part of Kabul city for finding Pashtun and Tajik participant. In this case, my partner’s support and cooperation made it much easier for me and my family. Moreover, depending on place and individuals the issue of ethnicity is still a problem for Hazara people. Therefore, comparing to me, my partner’s facial feature does not resemble Hazara people, and it helped us a lot in terms of reaching people from other ethnic groups. In general, this field work was a great opportunity for me to learn, experience, and enhance my interview skills and project my participants view for you through listening and recoding their voice.