Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Women in Afghanistan

The tone of this post from Alison at Making Headlines is sad rather than angry:

I also can’t help but feel hugely disappointed that muslim women in the west, who should champion their ‘muslim sisters’ in Afghanistan are failing them. They have so much in comparison and yet take it for granted. It’s incredibly sad and an inditement on the cultural strategies of the government that they feel more inclined to ignore women who have shown such enormous courage to get the little they have.
A bit of anger is also justified. As Alison also writes:
It is these warlords who... are threatening incredibly brave women in volatile but important positions - MPs such as 27 year old Malalai Joya, physically attacked in the Afghan parliament, survivor of 4 assassination attempts ~ but solid in her commitment to stay put and shout down the warlords. She is revered as a heroine amongst the people of Afghanistan.

“We have no value.” “When I speak, they pelt me with water bottles,” (referring to her fellow male MPs). “One shouted, ‘Take and rape her!’ “The West talks of Afghan women having freedom and going outside without a burqa but I tell you the burqa was not the main problem for women. Look at the high rate of suicide among our women. The real problem is security and more and more are returning to the burqa (for protection).”

As recently as last month Safia Ama Jan the director of Womens Affiars was murdered...
As The Times reported recently:
Five years after the Taliban were ousted from Kabul, the number of Afghan women setting fire to themselves because they cannot bear their lives has risen dramatically.
Getting rid of the Taliban and closing the Al Qaeda training and logistical bases in Afghanistan was a good thing, regardless of any other circumstances. The hideous treatment of women, not just in Afghanistan but widely in the Muslim world, has nothing whatsoever to do with the war against terror, except perhaps that it serves as a reminder that we are being attacked by one of those rare cultures that makes ordinary people evil.

Just as bakers and travelling salesmen became concentration camp guards in the Nazi era, so men who in a different culture would be humane and civilised fathers, sons and husbands stand in circles, chipping the flesh from the heads of living women with pieces of stone, in punishment for their having been raped, abused or - the worst crime of all - fallen in love. Skulls will be flayed of skin, muscle, flesh, an eye might pop out and lie on the ground in the midst of the tatters of scalp and what looks like minced meat and yet, after two hours of this, the woman is still alive. (Source - eyewitness account of stoning in Saudi Arabia).

Men get buried in pits, waist deep, before the stoning starts. The earth is filled back in to keep them in place. But she has been buried up to her neck in case in her struggles a breast becomes exposed, because that would be obscene.

Malalai Joya should have the last word. From a BBC interview in January 2006:
They will kill me but they will not kill my voice, because it will be the voice of all Afghan women. You can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring

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