Building civil society (non-governmental and non-profit organizations) has been one of the major achievements in Afghanistan in the last 18 years. This flourishing new field gained recognition early on and became influential in addressing issues in the interest of the public. These issues have often included human rights, women’s rights, government accountability, foreign assistance, and economic prosperity. Civil society organizations have also been critical in raising awareness on various issues. Their activism has mobilized and engaged the public broadly on many critical issues.
Recently, two members of the civil society conducted a study of the abuse of young boys at the hands of their teachers, so-called religious members of the society, and other powerful men. Their report shines a necessary light on the problem of pedophilia and gained the attention of authorities and the public to speak about it. Pedophilia, a taboo topic across the world, is especially so in traditional and patriarchal societies like Afghanistan.
The study, the media coverage surrounding the study, and the continued debate on the subject prove the strength of civil society in Afghanistan. Although the two members were arrested by their local intelligence office, they were released quickly after because of the pressure from the civil society organizations, a further indication of their position in the Afghan public debate.
Civil society organizations are a relatively new field in Afghanistan, but these organizations have grown over the last nearly two decades and have been recognized in the national and international community. As of August 2015, there are 5,789 associations and 2,060 non-governmental organizations registered with the Ministry of Economy. Most of these organizations are led by the young generation of Afghanistan with progressive views, often focusing on issues of education, civic engagement, children’s rights, women’s rights, human rights, and the environment.
Sources: The Guardian 11/25/19, Tolonews 11/26/19