Afghanistan
The Afghan Woman - Afghanistan

The Afghan Woman

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on
  • 1997 - US State Department criticizes Taliban for gender discrimination in annual report 
  • 1998 - Security Council Res.1214:Afghans stop discriminating against women/girls 
  • 1999 - US Senate passes unanimous resolution condemning treatment of women by the Taliban 
  • 2001 - Laura Bush: “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for rights & dignity of women”

In fact the whole premises of the attack on Afghanistan had been built on their ‘harboring terrorists’ and their ‘oppression and victimization of women’. This was the double-bait fed to the American public and to the world-wide prey of the mainstream media that broadcasted the pictures of women being beaten in public by the Taliban throughout the globe; to win the political mindset of the people for the legitimacy of an all-out occupation of Afghanistan.

My question to you, Mr. and Mrs. Bush and to you Mr. and Mrs. Obama and to your whole congressional war organization is, ‘what of the plight of the Afghan women now?’ Now that, after 11 years of disgrace you are looking for a way to sneak out of the situation, what is your say about the oppressed woman you came to save?

By the way, I know the answer! If somebody had told you that you could wage a war on a people, kill and wound their men, open fire on their villages and caravans, demobilize them, starve them in their trenches and that that would, in any way, help empower their women and give them freedom to choose; that was the most horrific of a think-tank that gave you this kind of an advice and it was vile of you to follow such an advice.

Why not apply the same wisdom of daisy-cutting the American population, where 1 out of every 4 women is a victim of domestic violence, a woman is beaten or assaulted every 9 seconds, a report of a child abuse is made every ten seconds and more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. How have you empowered your own women and how are they able to wrestle their way out of abuse.

What the US did, after its invasion of an already war-torn country was to strategically place the corrupt Northern Alliance warlords, who had a previous record of tens of thousands of deaths and the devastation of their people at their hands, in their 1992-96 period, up against their arch rivals the Taliban. This move had a two pronged effect, firstly all authority and funds were placed in the most corrupt hands and secondly the majority was stranded in their hideouts in fear of the relative minority, backed by the state-of-art NATO-US war-craft. Thus having the whole population demobilized with a perpetual terror of war and rage, in the so-called pursuit of delivering freedom and mobilization to the women in the society.

Tell me! how are you to pull your arms and fire against a settlement and ask their women to come out without fear, to the grace of those who will kill their fathers, husbands and sons; the US seems to be under an extreme spell of narcissism here, when they are imagining themselves to be the heroes of a hypnotized womenfolk who would follow their trail like the pied piper of Hamelin had once been followed; after all, how will women be powerful as long as the men are there.

So, the Karzai regime had come with a clear manifesto, at the behest of his merciful dictators; to embezzle all foreign aid so that it doesn’t become part of the infrastructure or economy; help keep the Taliban stranded and isolated so their label is not lost; invite the feminist NGOs for uplifting the women; and make a show that the women have been empowered.

And Karzai did make a show; he has 3 women in his cabinet, 12% women representation in the Loya Jirga, woman ministers for health and women affairs, more woman representation in the lower and upper houses and a right to vote. Apart from that women have had quite an opening in the Afghan radio, a solely women operated FM station; ‘the voice of the Afghan woman’ is on-air. NGOs have been invited in the dozens to help rip the ‘Burqa’ off the Afghan woman.

The NGOs invited here were, as expected, feminist, only meant for the women, sowing the seeds of contention between the man and the woman as soon as they arrive; no wonder the Afghan woman will be beaten now like the American woman is beaten every day at home. Reports of BBC, AMNESTY, UNECEF, MOWA etc. flood the international media with singular stories on cases highlighting issues like domestic violence, underage marriage, forced marriage, temporary marriage, exchange marriage and trading and exchange of women, sexual abuse, rape, honour killings; portraying these as the norm of every household of the country. Only, Mr. Obama, you are not inviting these same orgs. into the American household where 10 year olds are giving births and their fathers are on trial for abusing them, where on the average only less than a quarter of woman/child related crimes are ever reported, where there is no killing for honour but a lot of killing in dis-honour and abuse, where marriage is not a form of trade rather all relations are temporary and without marriage. I do not want to interpret any vice, in occurrence in the Afghan society as a virtue, but I also do not want to give the right of interpretation of the Afghans to those who have waged war on them and who kill their men, women and children every day, without reporting.

Lastly again, lets observe the uplift related to the women of Afghanistan, whom the NGOs are unable to visualize as integrals of the Afghan society but these women are only visible to them when taken as the segregated half of the society; a society where poverty, illiteracy, immobility and unawareness of legal rights strike equally hard on the men; where the harshness of the weather and the brutalities of war are faced perhaps more by the Afghan man, by a degree. In such a scenario the NGOs have raised their slogan, to deliver the women, still, let us be patient and bear with them and try to see the good they have tried to bring. It must be noted that due to the extreme insecurity that they face, on account of the facts that the whole country is a war zone; the terrain is extremely difficult and dry; and the mindset of the population is conservative, the NGOs have been confined to the main city centers, especially Kabul. Outside Kabul, not much can be practically accomplished, outside Kabul only their words can console, that also through the radio.

Yet, bearing nicely with them, let us expect that the NGOs must have done a lot for the uplift of women in Kabul or other civic centers in the Northern Alliance areas, at the least, where they have the security of coalition forces behind them. As it happens, there are almost 2 million widows in the country, 50,000 of whom are in Kabul alone, these women who have no male to support them have been driven into beggary on the streets of Kabul; prostitution that has become a rampant institution since the foreign forces have arrived, accounts for the 5000 reported prostitutes that are in work in Kabul; 3,900 women die while delivering a child, annually in Kabul; according to estimates more than 60,000 street children are begging or committing crimes like drug trafficking, drug abuse and theft on the streets of Kabul. My question is Mr. President! Could the NGOs not even preform in Kabul, what in the name of ‘womanhood’, are they doing here then. My question is that where have the more than $12 billion been spent, that have been received as humanitarian aid by the NGOs and the Karzai government? Is there an organization like the BBC, CNN, AMNESTY, UNECEF, MOWA etc. that can highlight this matter for us in the global media? This little act of kindness and concern could win you the hearts and minds of the Afghans and their friends and would save your declining image, internationally, Mr. President!