Driven by Determination
Fatana Quraishi has discovered the secret of a happy life is not doing what we love but loving what we accomplish. Her life story.
Widowed very young when her husband died in a traffic accident, she was left with
a months old infant to take care of. But she did not let that get her down, and decided she would make something out of her life.
She resumed her studies, found a job and enrolled for law from the private Esteqlal University. At present she is a lawyer with Medica Afghanistan which works on sensitising men and women to the key issues of gender-based violence by providing multiple training for health and legal professionals and others.
Part of her own life has been as a migrant family in Pakistan. "I finished school in Pakistan," she says. "I studied the Sharia too in Pakistan, learning Arabic as a result. When I returned to my homeland I started working in the human rights commission (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission – AIHRC). Simultaneously I studied law so that it would help me in
my work. I scored the highest in my class and graduated as a first grade student in judgment and prosecution from Esteqlal."
Quraishi's first job with AIHRC was as a receptionist. Soon she moved into the legal education section. In a short while she was working on the commission's Transitional Justice and Assessing War Crimes report that covered the period from 1987 to 2001 (the start of the communist government to the fall of the Taliban regime).
The report has extensive documentation of historical and eyewitness reports.
Quraishi says interviews with survivors and relatives of the victims were in three languages: Dari, Pashtu and English. But the report is yet to be published. Many of those alleged to be war criminals are in Her next assignment at AIHRC was in the women's rights section. "I could rise in AIHRC and the experience gained while covering all legal issues, conventions, international declarations on human rights and national laws has meant I can well address all problems of my country's people.
I have been able to fulfill responsibilities towards my people as well as take steps to ensure justice and counter the violence women face," she says.
Knowledge is power
Quraishi believes literacy and awareness are most important. "If every individual has enough time and possibilities to study more, everyone can overcome any problem and succeed in reaching their goals," she says. "I did not have either limitation in working or financial problem. The support of my family helped me in my efforts and in that I was lucky," she adds.
Her son has not been neglected in the pursuit of her goals, she says. He is well educated and has a bright future.
She thinks of going abroad to study and give her son more opportunities to make a life of his own.
At Medica Afghanistan she is working on the status of women in Afghanistan. She believes women are worst off because of a weak rule of law and the continuing war and insecurity.
Widespread ignorance must be blamed for the hold of social customs that victimise women. "We as activists of women's rights should help our sisters study, go to school and get educated.
I believe that knowing is itself an ability. Moreover, we should implement laws that support the right of women so that women are protected."
She wants the government to draft and implement a new strategy to tackle violence against women and make a better future for them.