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This article takes off from the previous one exploring the natural rights of children that are abused casually. So here, I am looking at schools. Let me say upfront that I am not “designing an overhaul” and I don’t believe I should. Public services should always be designed by consensus, hopefully with some input or observation of children.

The following isn’t intended to be a working model of education, but a set of goals that should be incorporated into planning one, if at all we ever get around to making so much effort when kids are “perfectly fine” in their tidy boxes. I use this space to share ideas that occur to me. I hope many minds will join in in precious contribution.

  1. The duration. Cut it to a third. Currently, we have three to four years of pre-school, kindergarten, etc before school, plus the ten actual years of school. That’s too much. If you want kids ready for college at fifteen, put them in school by ten, get them out by fourteen and give them a year’s break before further organized study. This has the added bonus of tripling the national educational capacity instantly. More on this later.
  2. Get rid of compulsions. If the school thinks something is important, and the child doesn’t, its time to get real, and like real life, negotiate. And suck it up and accept that things don’t always go our way if the child still doesn’t agree. In other words, they are people.
  3. Memorizing must be so minimized, that if it can be noticed, its too much. Instead, teach kids how to find out. How to reference knowledge, how to rig up their own research, how to question the knowledge and test it before accepting or not. How to disagree, without inhibition.
  4. Banish syllabus and subjects. Have classrooms loosely defined by what is happening in them and let the children be free to use them or not.
  5. Get totally rid of this good and bad. If you have bad students, please remove them from school and let them join whatever they are good at – even if it is watching TV all day. They have one life and don’t deserve to suffer our hang ups.
  6. Knowledge must not be seggregated. A snowflake being beautiful, cold, inspiring poetry, geometrically interesting….. should not be unrelated. This cannot be designed. You will have to get rid of subjects and dive into whatever the kids seem interested in. Which brings me to….
  7. Teachers should be facilitators. Once we get rid of the idea of limited information, the idea of a teacher becomes impossible to provide. No one can know everything about everything. Thus, the teachers must have skills that get the knowledge flowing rather than delivering the final word on something.
  8. Drop the idea that kids did “nothing”. Nothing is what brainwashed adults do. A quiet kid has gears turning in his head, a mischiefmaker is figuring out out of the box ideas that no one thought of, so that he can do his mischief. There is absolutely no reason to plan every inch of the time and space a child spends in the learning center. On the other hand, there is every need to offer a variety of things around what is enjoyed or considered interesting.
  9. Which brings me to… don’t limit learning. If your classrooms are by subject, there is absolutely no reason why people can’t take life memberships and/or to multiple schools or walk into a government school at whim. If they don’t have to attend everyday, they can, you know? What more perfect thing on a boring afternoon than to discover something astonishing? To hop across and check out what’s “happening”? Or, to continue on to their specialized colleges, but feel free to supplement it with more holistic learning in the center? It would be great for the kids to have diversity in learning partners. More real, more practical. If something specific doesn’t support it, that can always be protected.
  10. You understand of course, that from tiny, regimented, stingy parcels of learning, I’m talking of throwing the world open to kids. Of helping them learn whatever they want, as far as possible. No compulsory subjects, no lectures, unless the teacher is gung ho about something and the kids find it interesting enough to not walk out.
  11. There is absolutely no reason why basic education can’t prepare one for a future in agriculture or hairdressing, if it truly offers freedom of learning. That is the whole idea of basic, you know? Education now is ridiculous. The foundation for never finding out their real passions, because they are supposed to do all kinds of things and anyway, its highly likely that what you want to do cannot be described as one out of eight subjects – and thus kids actually have no idea what to do after their board exams. If this nonsense were working, by the time they hit the age of college, children would have had a fair grip on what it was they wanted to do, instead of saying, “Oh, if I get good marks, I’ll take science, or commerce if i can’t do that, or arts if  I get no admission for either.” This horrible predicament of theirs is because they are taught fantasy subjects, which have no reality with what they can envison anyone actually doing. They haven’t actually done anything that gives them an idea of if they want to do it a lot in the future. And no, they never had an ambition for memorization, and if they did, it would be something more spectacular, not something everyone “had to” memorize.
  12. The so called “B.Ed” variety degrees should be replaced by more practical psychology experience and skills of resourcing things. Nothing currently teaches that, so it will have to be designed. The actual learning expertise can come from anything ranging from a bunch of kids taking things apart and finding out for themselves, or a nuclear physicist volunteering an afternoon. Or from the tomes of textbooks of a bygone era to the internet or whatever comes next.
  13. school like this ought to actually be LESS expensive. Resources are really vastly scalable – there is no need to standardize – whatever is available, its unique, and real, and likely influenced by what kids wanted. This money should be not saved, but used to add resources and pay teachers really well. Teachers who become teachers because they couldn’t get better jobs should not be trusted with shaping the future of very precious people.
  14. Exams should be banned at the “end” of schooling. There is no end to learning, and there is absolutely no realistic way of assessing learning. Attempts to do so should be considered an insult to learning itself.
  15. But…. but, how do we put people in college? ENTRANCE EXAMS. If a child WANTS to do something, it makes sense to train for it and pass an exam certifying it. Colleges already have entrance exams. What difference does it make to them if the kids didn’t do other exams before that? Skills considered essential can be tested, and that is that. Let’s stop these anal routines, as though assessments are the whole point of learning.
  16. For jobs, it makes more sense to have entrance exams based on the actual work expected. An accounts job shouldn’t need the same skill set and marksheet as a receptionist, for example, as is the current scenario. Someone interested in numbers can learn really cool things with them and become a far more exceptional accountant than a garden variety “some of everything”, so actually, it is a grounding for far more intense specialization.
  17. It has the added benefit of dignity of labour. If there isn’t an educational norm that you can study commerce and become an executive with 80% marks and a receptionist with 60% marks, there is no shame in choosing what your heart is comfortable with, or becoming a driver or a nuclear scientist. A child choosing to attend school a couple of days a week and focusing more on the garage on the corner because he’s interested in race cars is LEARNING. Will be good initial work for that mechanical engineering entrance exam. If this child is not condemned, he may want to use the learning center to be able to calculate the power of an engine better, or learn the correct spelling of some term the mechanic used. Such things should be seen as apprenticeships rather than wasting time.
  18. I am not saying organize nothing and let kids go wild and be complacent because you don’t have to show any results. There is a difference between nurture and neglect, just as there is between nurture and prison. . Something like this would be more difficult on the teachers, BECAUSE they are supposed to deliver more. The world, instead of ten chapters.
  19. Also not saying that no lectures should be organized. I am saying that they should have a purpose other than ramming an essay into a child’s brain. They should be free for anyone to learn from, not just one group of people doing it whether they want or not. A lecture designed for the sixth grade shouldn’t disallow anyone wanting to attend it, nor should it disallow a sixth grader from leaving, but there will have to be a target audience in designing it, of course.
  20. Obviously, this isn’t something that would work out of the box. For one, even if this idea were adopted, a transition would have to be worked out. This idea would have to be refined further. But that a basic education ought to be good enough to set many people up for basic jobs without having to do anything further exotic. A basic education ought to create a foundation for learning, which can be applied in any sphere of life, and a love for knowledge, which goes beyond proving worth in exams. It ought to give the children enough of a sampling of what happens in different kinds of work so that they have a fair idea of what they really want by the time they hit the age of eligibility for college. And no, you ambitious parents, this shouldn’t be an opportunity to lower the entrance age for college.

Ok, I’ll stop here, because again, the article must go on, but you get the idea. Measuring people, demeaning them, limiting their learning is not necessary at all.

~*~*~ Fun Break ~*~*~

A bubble of pure water without soap added – impossible on earth, because, in zero gravity, the film of water doesn’t collapse under its own weight. Syllabus? Everything from surface tension and gravity to forces shaping objects to the nature of a scientist’s mind or the beauty of bubble itself or how do they design the shuttle so that it doesn’t leak or collapse? A million learning conversation possibilities….. or…. we aren’t in space. Which brand of soap will make best bubbles? Or…. on earth, could zero gravity be “rigged” to make this possible? One interesting thing leads to a lot of thought. Thinking is going to get someone figuring out black holes or the latest laundry detergent patent.

~*~*~Ok, back to the topic~*~*~

This is a vision. An ideal. I share it, but there is little hope in me that the world we have has the guts to face raw learning. However, there are a few suggestions I have, that can be implemented, and MUST be implemented. If you have a child, or are a teacher ethically responsible for the harm of school, or are even more introspective and realize that we are responsible for the wrongs we allow to happen unchallenged, you MUST fight tooth and nail for these.

  1. Asking children to take complaint notes about them by their teachers to their parents should be declared a crime. High quality abuse. Enough humiliation already. Its the teacher being paid to make this teaching thing work, not the child. If s/he cannot handle the child, they have choices. Ideally, beginning with another job, but at the very least calling up the parent her/himself and not bullying a child into carrying demeaning words about themselves between people. Or even good words. A child is not a courier for gossip about itself.
  2. Design engaging and “cool” knowledge sharing. Encourage trying things out, based on the learning theme.
  3. Parent-Teacher meetings, staff meetings, etc must be totally open to whichever child wishes to observe them, possibly they can get permission to address the group if they have something important that they want to share. In any case, they must have the RIGHT to know what are the processes around them.
  4. Memorizing needs silence. Learning needs engagement. Engagement is frequently noisy. Noise must not be discouraged. In fact, I go ahead and say that if a teacher can get a class chattering excitedly, they are learning. Teachers MUST receive training on non-violent communication.
  5. Uniforms should be replaced by dress codes, which should be sufficiently tolerant of the intended age and context. There is no two ways around this. Just imagine this. The boss lining up all the women showing cleavage and telling them to “dress better”. Lawsuits would fly. What makes you think that a child is less bothered by being paraded for having untidy clothes? Trust me, just get rid of this shit. If they join the Army, they’ll figure it out fast enough. If they end up working in a place with such rules, they will be doing it out of choice and for a reason. Don’t just randomly fuck with their dignity like this.

I am, like the earlier article, leaving out the “obvious and accepted wrongs”. Use your brain. If I’m holding things up with such integrity, it goes without saying that children being punished and beaten and so on is out. Just out, unless the teacher is cool with being caned in front of the class for being such an insensitive ass. That’s it.

Note: Rather abrupt, but I don’t have it in me to polish anything. Too heartfelt. Maybe later, so you may want to return to this article in the future, which is  a good idea for any article of mine you like, because I have zero publishing ethics. I change them, update them, and in general keep making them better if something occurs to me. I will also do the italic/bold thing, so that quick scanners get all the importantest words at least. Later. Now, I must stay with this feeling of talked out. When I wrote A new look at child abuse, I had planned it as a two article thing. The second article to contain a vision and possibilities. After the article finally wrote itself, and I read it a few times, I realized that it was too long. And it still didn’t allow me the space I needed without risking people running away just at the length of the page. After all, an idea unspread is a tree that fell unseen, unheard. So this thing is snowballing. The three sections will have their own follow ups of alternatives. And if at all anything remains left in me to write, I’ll see. But I’m not leaving go of this subject.


Child rights are our future.

The most vulnerable, exploited and unrepresented minority ANYWHERE in the world is children.

Child abuse is a process of disrespect, hurt and neglect and most children are abused. I'll go right ahead and say almost every child is abused at some point or the other.

This post looks beyond the "bona fide" abuse that is recognized socially and legally and looks at practices we consider acceptable, which are not in the best interest of children.

Macro - Legal/Social

  1. There are laws against child abuse in India, indeed, there are laws against child abuse in most parts of the world. The United Nations Convention on the rights of the child (in theory) offers several protections. So how many parents get arrested for abuse in India except in extreme cases of child abuse when children land up in hospitals or morgues?
  2. If you hit an adult, you'd be arrested for assault. If you hit a child, the child will be told to behave or listen to you.
  3. No laws for protecting children consult children. In India, I am not even sure they consult child psychologists.
  4. What does a policeman do when he sees a beggar boy or girl on the street? Or a child prostitute in a red light area? Child abuse is routinely tolerated. Children don't vote. Children don't know they can complain. Children don't come out on the streets threatening to topple governments or demanding suspensions of people.
  5. Blackmail is legal if its children? Children are rather literal creatures with high imaginations. "Do this or else", "keep quiet or I am not going to talk to you"... is a real threat for them. We think nothing of threats of abandonment or harm in order to force them to act how we want - often for trivial things.
  6. Harassing a child is a socializing routine. Taking away toys, laying claims on parents or other treasured possessions, ragging them to perform something...
  7. Lack of supporting services. How can children be removed to safety unless there is proper infrastructure to care for them - psychologically, day-to-day care or legally? There is a deafening silence on the utter lack of security (or intent to create it) for the largest minority - the children.
  8. There is no preventative action. We have cops investigating post crime.
  9. The RTE Act makes it mandatory for every child to be in school. ANY other minority treated so arbitrarily would have human rights activists up in arms. But they applaud initiatives to imprison children. But its not working. <== READ


  1. You might want to remember when any genius ever said, oh, I'm a genius because school taught me all the important things. That's right, never. Its usually, mom, supportive family, special mentor, country, god, etc.A school is a facility to install softwares of a list of subjects on unformatted children and certify the output, so that they may be put to appropriate use on becoming adults. In other words, kids are glorified hard drives. I am being cruel, unnecessarily vicious? Read on...
  2. Schools kill learning. Destroy ability to learn. Learning is a process of differentiation. This is red, this is blue. It is the discovery of the difference that I learn. A math problem can be figured out usefully by doing this and not this. Clearly, the process of being wrong is as important as the process of being right. If you cannot be wrong, you have validated nothing. You have only recorded what was told.
  3. If you don't memorize railway timetables, there is absolutely no reason to memorize biological species or latitude and longitude coordinates of a city. Schools are a criminal waste of the most learningful years of a child's life.
  4. Think of the brain as a computer's RAM. It caches information, but its information it needs handy for instant application. Cluttering the cache limits its utility. We get children to memorize tomes and tomes of history, scientific classifications, geographical information, mathematical methods, and what not. Like any good cache, it flushes after the exams, or at worst, after education is complete. A school creates a fake need for storing information. This whole three ring circus is worthless beyond school.
  5. What about English? A child can learn to read and write entirely from its interests. Video game rules, titles of cartoon films, story books, etc give way to chatting with girlfriends, reading up experiments.... whatever. If they have an interest that needs reading, they will figure it out. If they don't need it, there is no need, is there? If you write like Wren and Martin, you need to search for jobs in nineteenth century England. This is the language of the world. You find it on blogs, newspapers, instruction manuals, application forms and appointment letters.
  6. Language is about communication. And knowledge is about function. My excellent English grew through reading story books. I was absolutely addicted to story books. I used to hide them inside text books and read them in class. Lost count of how many got confiscated. I dare say I made a significant contribution to the school's library. I used to read story books while waiting for exams to start. If I didn't waste time on school, my English would have been even better.
  7. What about Maths? Prof Lockhart does a fantastic job of demolishing the myth of maths as taught in schools, and Joyce finishes the job for anyone who thinks a genius has different standards and they are more ordinary. Do read both. BTW, a calculator is cheaper than school fees. Here's one by Ben Goldacre on the scientific ethics of schools and adults - Kids who spot bullshit, and the adults who get upset about it
  8. Now for the uncomfortable parts. School does kids harm. It has done you harm. It has done society harm. It has done me harm. The reason is that schools measure the worth of people. They respect or insult based on measures they decide and do damage, because they teach that human beings are less worthy if they don't know something. They fail to comprehend or instill respect for the vast scope of genius existing in the world. They install inferiority complexes, superiority complexes, and an inability to recognize genuine knowledge growing wild. It diminishes people.
  9. Schools create artificial perceptions of narrow, age defined social comfort zones. People who hear this for the first time think I'm being unreasonable. They think kids prefer other children their own age. If this were true, pre-school kids wouldn't be tagging behind elder siblings in hero worship. It is an instinct to look at experienced members and learn. It is unnatural to avoid diversity. Pay attention - I am not saying relationships of same age are unnatural, I am saying it is unnatural not to venture outside those ages. Our society is fragmenting, as generations are unable to relate easily with each other. The few families with healthy relationships make it. The rest is a saga of all the generations finding the other generations inconvenient at best and intolerable more often.
  10. Schools create a culture of isolation. That would seem surprising considering how there are so many children, and you remember having friends.... but you can socialize and be alone without the ability to form meaningful relationships. Schools police interpersonal relations to an astonishingly harmful degree. It is natural for two people with a common problem to join forces in solving it. In real life, we call it team working. In school, the challenges are called examinations, and collaboration is called cheating. There is shame, stigma and a strong emphasis on NOT giving or accepting assistance and solving problems on your own. Then, you go to work, and suddenly the school ideas are the ones creating most of your trouble. You can't ask for help, you can't accept help, because you are "worth less" if you do that.You agree to teamwork, but still communicate final versions. Silo culture. There are now increasing cases of depression, suicides and loneliness in children.
  11. Schools are a market. A big, profitable market, where the consumers have no rights.
  12. The education system is INEFFICIENT. In a world where efficiency and speed are important, the size of education only increases, becomes more and more schizophrenic and irrelevant to reality. Increasingly, the products of this education system are worthless in real life. <== READ! They find it difficult to see opportunity in a city like Mumbai (<== READ!), where my maid earns Rs.12,000/- a month. Basically, our education system is still geared to produce clerks in the British Raj.
  13. Schools teach very few of the life important skills, and little that is useful for non-white collar jobs. A train driver earns a good income, but kids are not exposed to it as an opportunity. They are herded toward academic brilliance as though it were an Olympic sport and functionality were not important.
  14. I don't even want to talk about all the class stereotypes this creates. Intelligent, respectworthy people score well in exams.This has been disproved so many times, its irrational. But what do you expect in a country where people become teachers because they couldn't get better jobs?
  15. The education doesn't create a foundation going beyond the known or fighting the horizon and breaking through. The idea is to do what is already established, excellently. A child is innovative by nature. A doer, experimenter, natural scientist. It is a creative lobotomy to force them to become like this.

Which brings me to.... brace yourself. This is important. You love your child. You can do this. You can read through the rest.

Parents and other elders

  1. Most parents have a melodramatic awareness of how much they do for their kids, the sacrifices they make, the difficulties they suffer, etc. Their transactions with children are often through this lens, trivializing a child's sacrifices (is it sacrifice or compliance if its ordered?) in comparison with theirs. The child never asked to be born, or for sacrifices to be made. It is unfair to pressure them to appreciate something they didn't feel the need for, and deprive them of something they DO feel the need for.
  2. School is another form of abandonment of unwanted kids. Before you throw those rotten eggs at me, look in your rotten soul. Do you breathe a sigh of relief when vacations are over? Why are you happy to send your child off on more and more things to keep him busy and out of your hair? You won't watch a three hour film without finding out if its worth it, do you spare a second thought tying up more than a decade of the best parts of the days of your child's life? Do you stop to ask if that much time is needed? Do you stop to ask if it is necessary to teach all this? Do you exert your rights as your child's representative to negotiate his best interest? If not, who will? Isn't this abandonment?
  3. The abandonment is also emotional. Most parents will believe another adult over their child. So, if someone says something, complains, it is two adults versus one child. In other words, the equivalent of bullying. This is beyond abandonment, it is treachery.
  4. Almost every child has been hit, dominated or insulted for being inconvenient.
  5. Disrespect. Parents routinely "train" kids better. You wouldn't force feed a friend to eat a food she didn't like, but most parents think nothing about using anything from pleas to physical domination, threats and starvation in order to get kids to eat that food they don't want to eat. This isn't discipline. It is breaking someone's spirit by assault. Even in prisons, this would be human rights abuse. In homes, its normal. It is apparently what grows good, healthy kids. God forbid they became adult without learning how to eat tomatoes.
  6. Projections. Kids routinely pay for the parent's seeing bad things in them for no fault of theirsHere's a rather long winded article that goes into the psychology of it <== READ! If you are a parent, do your child a favour, and read it. If you do nothing, do this.

Too much hassle growing a kid. People plug them into schools to outsource their development. Take out a template installed with standard knowledge. Keep them busy till they are old enough not to be a hassle.

Nothing will convince me that at an age of discovery and wonder, a child is enjoys or gains best from sitting at a desk mimicing ideas and words.

Horse breeders realize the value of the emotional stability from being around the parent. To breed horses of good temperament, foals are not separated from dams till a year at least. Ideally, three or so years, till they become independent and form their own bonds in the herd. The equivalent in development for a year for a horse would be six human years. Animals get better caring, huh? What is more important than the emotional grounding and security of being with the parent till ready to explore further?

Making them independent, of course. In a world where adults misjudge people and are hurt and betrayed as a matter of routine, we expect children to "read" strangers at very young ages, and socialize easily and also have the ability to not go to strangers for fear of kidnappings, abuse and miscellaneous harm. We put them in danger through this kind of irresponsible passing on of responsibility.

You have parents looking to make babies independent... get them weaned, comfortable with strangers, accustomed to day care..... and then, you have same parents nagging their adult kids to visit more often. You abscond when they need you, and then you expect them to need you when they don't?

Very few happenings in a child's routine are intended with their joy, well being, emotional or physical safety in mind. Either we must stop claiming to love them, or we must change.

When we are old, drooling and bedridden, we'd like to matter when our care is outsourced to an old age home. We may learn to accept that we are inconvenient or that someone else could take better care of us, but we would like our loved ones to be close in our vulnerability. Not all that different from a child. Lined up in our futures. Good incentive to make this thing more human.

A start would be not doing, being, being acting with a child in any way that you wouldn't with someone you respect. Someone incredibly precious whom you appreciate.

Right now onwards.

If you liked this, you might be interested in its follow up School Reloaded, which looks at ways a learning institution could be.

The latest contribution from our brave and insightful Gity Yousafi. This post is a part of the Afghan Life series, which is a series of emails and articles written by friends in Afghanistan.

Marriage is a relation between a man and woman that causes to make a society and society make culture and so on. There are lots of problems that a marriage can be face in fail and make bad fortune for the society.Afghan woman with burns on neck looks at herself in broken mirror

  1. Lack of satisfaction:
    Without the satisfaction of a girl and boy the families decide about the married. They find a couple for them and said you have to marry, this actions causes serious problems like: self-immolation and escape.
  2. Asking lots of money from boy family:
    Other problem is the wants of the bride families from groom families, the girl families wants lots of money instate of giving their daughter, it is not important for them that the groom has that money or not, they just want money, in fact it happen in poor families and illiterate families, the groom should work a lot to make that money he has to work on neighbors countries like Iran to make money some of them killed or become addicted, however if they return with money but they never be happy and have a good life they always fight with their wives. From other side the family of girl spends the money and don’t thinks about their girl.
  3. Unsuitable cultures:
    There are some unsuitable cultures in our society, like: today most of the families want that their daughters or their sons must have a great wedding and other parties, they don’t think about the coast of it, they said we should have such wedding even the girl or boy don’t want but they must follow the wants of their families, this case lots of problems for making money they should do some unsuitable work like to receive a bribe or take bribe, and maybe do other works , because gathering such money is very difficult and some times it cause to death.
  4. Lack of knowledge:
    Knowledge is very important and has a serious rule in our life without knowledge we are like blinded persons, in fact all these problems are from lack of the knowledge , it is very important to learn, and try to make our society.
  5. Families violence:
    Families’ violence is other big and serious problem in our society; in most of the families the men don’t let their wives to work to do something that they want and always try to control them these cause problems in their marriage. Also we have woman violence against women, the lack of knowledge between women causes lots of problem between them the mother in law and sister in law always try to control their bride and give order to her, some girls they do and said nothing but some of when they resist they face to problems and even they killed or they suicide. These happen more in villages.

Gity (Yosufi) from Herat Afghanistan


Passive alcoholism is what I have started calling the experience of being under the influence of a person under the influence of alcoholism.

Those following me on Facebook were aghast a couple of months ago and then again last week, when I spoke of suffering the effects of my husband's alcoholism. It seems that as usual, I broke quite a few of society's norms by having "no shame".

Those who think that "dirty laundry" shouldn't be washed in public need to think about what they call dirty laundry. I am speaking up on the subject of passive alcoholism in our home. The face is, at least a tenth of the adult population of our country drink often. Among these, at least a third of them drink regularly. Far from being a private matter, this is a big concern for today's world, but remains unspoken behind a curtain of shame.

The government is content to make laws that change nothing. Expensive alcohol only means more money needs to be raised. That it will be raised is never in doubt. Guess who pays? Overburdened and deprived house wifes, parents, children.

I am taking a risk speaking up, but it is not to defame anyone, or to ask for pity. My husband did end up fielding a lot of awkward questions from friends. I did end up getting a storm of messages from 'conservative' friends for speaking up. I also got a lot of friends openly offering me help, advice and support. Not a single person criticized my husband. Nor was that the intent of the conversation.

I hope it can't be said that I attacked him unfairly. He didn't say that either. It seems that the criticism was of me and in private messages for bringing up something that "decent people" hide. People are even ashamed of criticizing someone speaking up on alcoholism. Not a public thing.

Yet, there seems to be absolutely nothing wrong in sitting publicly in a bar and drinking. Only in saying that that drinking happens. In saying that a drunk hurts many people with inconsiderate, irresponsible behaviour. In admitting being hurt.

There isn't a locality in Mumbai without a bar. But apparently, no one drinks in all these places. Or at least, if they drink, they are all graceful, witty people bonding with true friends after that. Nothing ugly exists.

There are far more people dead from drinking than from cigarettes - from illness and accidents. If we look at the impact on relationships.... it is untold damage. So where is the alcoholism related information in the public space? The limit seems to be in saying "don't drink and drive". For every one person who drinks and drives, there are ten who drink and abuse. Who steal to drink. Who lose all confidence in self and drink. Who scare their kids awake with domestic arguments in the middle of the night. Who drink and fight. Who drink and get aggressive at whim. Who insult their loved ones to feel better about themselves or to bow them to their will, in the fear that their drinking might get questioned - even when no one is questioning it. Where are the campaigns?

chain around bottles of alcohol and a hand
By: Imagens Evangélicas

I can understand it if an alcoholic avoids the subject out of shame, but it is the family members who suppress such talks.

Some say alcoholism is an illness. Others say it is an addiction born of irresponsibility. All agree that once established, it is compulsive.

When you live with an alcoholic, you meet more alcoholics and you meet more people suffering from alcoholics. They are as much a victim of alcoholism as the drinker. I have lost count of the times I have offered wry smiles at my husband behaving in an embarrassing way. I have lost count of the times when I have given or received an empathetic look of support to other wives at a table. When a party can go silent at some unexpectedly degrading insult by a supposedly loved one.

And before someone jumps on me saying that I'm assuming alcoholics are men, I'm not assuming that at all. Only that the ones in my husband's circle are all men.

I know I have been stunned into disbelieving silence out of fear or out of a false sense of dignity, and I know many people who are trapped in prisons of passive alcoholism. Where they make excuses why someone can't attend. Where they lose touch with society because they feel ashamed. Where they are always short of money. Where they keep borrowing to make ends meet. Where they keep lying about so many things. Where having a rational conversation with your alcoholic is an extraordinarily unrealistic expectation. The world keeps shrinking, options keep decreasing. It is difficult to endure.

I know it, because I have been there. I know what it feels like to see your mother-in-law helpless to reason with her son as he loudly demands that you be removed from the house. The tears in her eyes as she clutches your son to her chest hoping to soothe him to sleep through the racket.

It makes those around the drinker as insane as the drinker. I know I've had my share of anger, fights, frustration trying to get him to not drink. I have done many things to get him to be normal, to live up to committments. I have blamed him, been angry with him, hated him.... all the time covering up his 'failures' and resenting him for failing on simple things like answering calls from people. I have seen myself a bitter, sarcastic woman scoring cheap insults at his expense.... my world was as twisted as his was without drinking a drop.

It is all the more infuriating because he is what is called a functional alcoholic - he is able to work efficiently, which creates an illusion that I am the one being over obsessive over his actions. Not true.

I can only share that the more you hide, the more you start owning the guilt for actions you did not do and hating your alcoholic for making you suffer that. Some part of me still cares for the man. I have not given up hope. Nor do I wish to leave him and start a fresh life with a baby in my arms. But it is claiming my life and following my own desires that keeps me sane. This blog, my child, my other interests.... I have a full life. Then, the sorrow becomes a smaller share of it. Then, if I am sane, I am able to still care for my son, my family and yes, my husband too.

I refuse to return to a shell where I pretend everything is fine and suffer the embarrassment of appearing less than fine all the time. Of feeling a fraud when telling people that all is well. Things are not fine on some fronts. This is what I live with. This isn't asking for pity. This isn't defaming. It is being honest. It is refusing to be complicit in the sheltering of this disease. It is my own fight against becoming victim to passive alcoholism.

I go through tough times and good ones like us all. When the going is bad, I speak about the alcoholism as openly as I would about insomnia or diabetes. I ask for help and advice as easily as I would for an argument with a family member. And, I see nothing wrong in expressing my mood, frustration or need on Facebook, because I consider those who come there my friends enough not to pretend smiles and grins all the time. I see no need to hide things that I am not responsible for doing. Getting rid of the shame is more than half the healing.

The coming out of the closet is not only for the addicts, but addicts of the influence of addiction - if that makes sense.

If you find yourself nodding in recognition, my invitation to you is to stop drowning in shame and shrinking your world. If you suffer from someone's alcoholism, you need help as much as the sufferer, because this is a "group disease". It will help to reach out, speak with people, stop hiding things. You are no help to anyone by becoming crazy yourself. Nor are you any different if your frustration makes you equally irresponsible and abusive. Your suffering achieves no purpose, though it may seem tragic and melodramatic at times. It is only playing with the cards you have that will get you to a different place.

An organization called Al-Anon offers support to those who live with the effects of alcoholism on someone they care about. I urge you to find a local chapter and join. Or meet a counsellor, or a friend with plenty of time, or ..... reach out right here, on this blog 😉 Don't keep it to yourself. It isn't yours to keep.

Update: My husband continues to drink. However, since moving to a less urban setting, the drinking is at home, which somewhat lessens the risks as well as decreases influences of woman abusing company. Life at home has achieved a functional, if uneasy and sporadically abusive truce.


In this post from the Afghan life series, Gity Yousafi speaks with awe inspiring and heartbreaking honesty of one of the most serious issues facing the well being of women in Afghanistan - self-immolation.

One of the main problems of our society that we faced is self-immolation; it spread day by day and takes it victim from women, women are always victim of their family and society.

Raise a question what is the reason and how should we prevent them.

  1. Forced Marriages: one of the important reasons is forced marriages, unfortunately it is a current problem in our society, and it doesn’t have any compatibility with the logic and mind, it is not the confirmation of the Islam. Women are deprived from their rights by forced marriages and family violence’s. Forced marriages means slavery, taking freedom and rights of chose, all these problems case self-immolation.
  2. Widows to inherit: another problem that case self-immolation is to inherit of widows from their husband.
  3. Polygamy: another problem in our society is polygamy; in fact men can take about seven wives, this case self-immolation of women.
  4. Dejection: one of the other reasons of self-immolation is dejection. When a woman sees that she is nothing unless a salve and don’t know any things in the world, on that time she doesn’t have any way of solving her problem in this case she suicide.
  5. Lack of Education: most of the women are illiterate. Lack of awareness, information and education case that women don’t know about her right and freedom.
  6. Family Violence: make a bad impression on women and child. Men find the weak point of women and hit on them. Men think they are the king of the house every things that they say it is right and the women don’t have any right to say her ideas and defend herself.
  7. Poverty: poverty can case self-immolation; they don’t find other way to solve the problems.
  8. Imitation: some of women imitate of some women that they suicide.

Day by day self-immolation increase and we can’t prevent. Lack of awareness is the big problems most of women don’t know their rights and they don’t know even about Islam, if they have information they never suicide because Islam never let a person to kill her or his self in fact it is a big sin.


  1. To inform the society especially women from their right.
  2. To establish branches in the courts because of solving of families problems like marriages affairs, divorce, polygamy…..
  3. Literacy Campaign.
  4. Having a legal adviser.

They can help women to know about their rights, I hope one day we reach it and be in depended like other humans.

Heart Afghanistan by: Gity Yosufi