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Afghan women fight to be called by their names

Written by FDM

In Afghanistan, women mobilized under the hashtag #Whereismyname in order to be called by the first name and to reclaim their identity.

 » We are trying to take control of our identities and free them,  » explains Bahar Sohaili. This activist and writer initiated a campaign on social networks followed by hundreds of women in Afghanistan.

The purpose of this campaign is to claim their right to be called by their first name using the hashtag #whereismyname.

According to Afghan tradition, it’s taboo to publicly reveal a woman’s real name. Any time an Afghan man wants to identify a female relative, a verbal dance begins: Milk-sharer, Mother of Children, My Household. Those are just some ways men refer to women.

On the wedding invitations, the identity of the woman is not mentioned either.  » According to tribal logic, the body of a woman belongs to a man, the others should not dispose of it, even looking at it. Similarly, the first name of the woman belongs to the man, « explains Hassan Rizayee, an Afghan sociologist, to the New York Times .

Batool Mohammadi, one of the activists in the campaign, remembers when she became aware of the gravity of the situation:  » I went to the office of a private bank to fill out a form. When the manager asked me for my mother’s first name, I paused, because in fact I had forgotten my mother’s first name. All these years, no one had asked for her first name or called her by it. »

The #WhereIsMyName movement started by publishing some brave posts on Twitter and Instagram:  » Do not be shy when you give your mother’s first name « ,  » My first name is my identity. I want to proclaim it loud and clear! « .

Soon enough, the movement quickly grew, to be relayed in the national and international media . Public figures such as Afghan journalists or actresses took part in it as well. Bahar Sohaili will not accept defeat.Through this campaign, the young woman hopes to break taboos and make Afghan women aware of their value . She is rather confident, the rights of women have actually evolved in the country.