Wednesday, 8 January 2014

GINS #5 - The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

           My Forbidden Face is a touching story about a young girl, and the struggles that she faced under the rule of the Taliban. The most shocking thing about this tale is that every single word is true. A girl at the mere age of 16 was forced to witness the murder of many that she had known since childhood. Forced to witness some poor, innocent soul beaten to a pulp on the off chance that she chose to step outside of her once beloved home. Everyday being reminded of the freedom that she once shared with every single individual in Afghanistan.
            I have officially finished reading my Global Issues Novel Study, but we aren’t quite done yet. Recently we have begun to talk about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we decided that it was time to once again discuss, and apply, our knowledge of the novels we had chosen. Through this I began to think, with the way the quality of life was described in my novel, did Afghanistan even have any kind of constitution at that time? I realized after minimal thinking that even if Afghanistan did follow a constitution before the rule of the Taliban, it was completely thrown aside when they rose to power. The time period in which my book takes place was a time where the people’s voice and thoughts didn’t matter. Either way, I thought there must be something that I could use to compare to our quality of life based on the Charter. I found that Afghanistan today has a pretty solid constitution. Another thing I found, though it may or may not be practiced, is that their constitution had laws about the rights and freedoms of every individual was actually very similar to our own.
            Of course, the constitution is very long, so I am unable to talk about the whole thing. There were, however, some points that I found really jumped out to me. These are points that I personally thought were either most shocking or most important. I believe that the reason I chose these points over all the others was because they relate almost entirely with the sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They stated that discrimination, for any reason, is against the law. This just so happens to be the very definition of one of the sections in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for Individual Rights, Equality Rights. It was also written that any citizen who wishes to move in, out, or around the country was free to do so, Mobility Rights, and they even believe in the policy that everyone is absolutely innocent until proven guilty, which just so happens to be a small part of the Legal Rights section. They fully believe in democracy. They have elections just like we do in Canada and even have a National Assembly, which is more than slightly similar to the Canadian House of Commons.
            Now with all these similarities between the Constitution of Afghanistan and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, how did the country manage to fall into such dark and cruel hands? Well it turns out that during the reign of the Taliban, Afghanistan didn’t have a constitution. Sure they had plenty of laws before the Taliban took over, but they never followed an absolute law. They had actually just begun to discover the benefits of living in a democratic society, due to the violence in Afghanistan’s history, so the concept was easy to tear down by the Taliban. During the time period in which my book takes place, the Taliban created all the laws. They told the citizens that the rules being made were from the Quran, which is the spiritual book of Islamic Culture, but in reality the rules were twisted in order to suit the Taliban’s needs and interests.
            I wonder, during the reign of the Taliban, if Afghanistan had found a way to somehow enforce something like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms into their society, what would that time of history have looked like? How would Afghanistan today be different? I began to look into it and discovered that if they were to have enforced the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms into their country, the Taliban wouldn’t have existed. This is because practically everything that they did during their reign would have gone against everything in the Charter. In the book it tells you that one of the Taliban’s main goals at the time was to practically rid their country of its female citizens. Discrimination against anyone, for any reason (including gender), is against the law in Canada. Anther thing you can find is that many times throughout the book people would be beaten without any rhyme or reason. This clearly goes against our Legal Rights, because it states that seizure or search without reason is against the law. It also states that it is an individual’s right to say no to any cruel or unusual punishment.
            In the end, there is really no way that you can truly compare Afghanistan’s past with our present because the way of governing is completely different. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the constitution of a democratic country that believes in the power of the people. The rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan was a total dictatorship in which the people had no say in the way that their country was ruled. As we have learned time and time again throughout history, in a dictatorship, no matter how well it is organized, the people are never truly happy. So in conclusion, yes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if applied to Afghanistan’s past and many other places in the world throughout history, would have completely changed the way our world was shaped today, but due to the differences in the government, there is now way for it to be applied without completely altering history.


  1. Maitri, I completely agree with you. It's nice to have a constitution put in place, but it will be useless if it is not enforced and applied throughout the country. It really is interesting to think, what if developing countries had the same type of laws Canada has today. Would they be a "developed" country, perhaps even farther ahead than us? You can obviously tell that the Taliban meant to keep the people living in fear so that they would have complete control, yet how should you rule your people? Keep them in fear so that they want to rebel but are to afraid, or live in a peaceful society where it is easier for them to rebel against your leadership? Since the Taliban wanted complete control, it was easier for them to keep the people in fear, but if the Taliban chose instead a friendship with the people, would they have been more successful? Imagine if the Taliban had instead gained the peoples trust, that they slowly assimilated the people of Afghanistan and that there was freedom of religion, but the Taliban way was the best. Would the people then have accepted?

    Hope that leaves you with something to think about, have a nice day!

  2. Nice work Maitri. Just from what you said Afghanistan's constitution is quite similar to Canada's Charter. You have lots of writing so you must have done lots of research and knew a lot about your book, good job. When your talking about how they're similar is there similar freedoms? Those would have also been apart of it. Why do you think that the Taliban wouldn't have even existed if the rights were enforced? I personally think the Taliban still would have existed and done some things, but it would have been different since if people had rights they could have protected themselves even a little with the law, however those rights would still need to be enforced. When was the constitution created and enforced? Do think that if Canada's Charter was applied in Afghanistan and if Afghanistan rights applied in Canada things would still be like they are now?