FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Your War Did Not Liberate Us

by MOHADESA NAJUMI

On November 18 2001 Laura Bush gave her first radio address urging worldwide condemnation of the treatment of women in Afghanistan. She stated that the ”fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. This was because the plight of women and children in Afghanistan was “a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control”.

The then First Lady cited numerous statistics and reports that backed her claim and immediately after her speech, the State Department released an 11-page report on the Taliban’s “War Against Women.” The report stated that the “Taliban perpetrated egregious acts of violence against women, including rape, abduction and forced marriage”.

Waging war under the pretext of the “liberation of Afghan women” was certainly a potent selling point for the world to buy. There is nothing easier to sell than the idea of rescuing helpless women. When the US illegally invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the guise of a “War on Terror” (An absolute oxymoron. A war on terror?.. War is terror) women were already being abused by the Taliban and the warlords for some time. In fact, it had gone on for years before the US even batted an eyelid.

Women have long been the victims of a highly patriarchal and mostly tribalist society in Afghanistan. The Taliban are indeed inhumane and intimidating. Laura Bush was not wrong to point out that the systematic oppression of these women is a matter of deliberate human cruelty. However, more than a decade has passed since this noble address and can we say that women are substantively better off than they were in 2001?

Oxfam and Action Aid both released a reports ten years on from the western intervention claiming:

” 72% of Afghan women believe their lives are better now than they were 10 years ago ” and ” 27% of MPs are women (higher than the world average) and 5% of positions in the army and police force are filled by women “

These achievements are not to be underestimated. However, do they serve as a precedent for the discussion on women’s rights in Afghanistan today? No. Women continue to be systematically marginalised, persecuted and oppressed.

Power dynamics from the home to the Parliament remain largely favourable to men and the judicial and legislative systems have shown they are not on the side of women, but against women. The President passed a “Rape Law” in 2009 allowing husbands to starve their wives if they refuse to obey their sexual demands. The number of women and girls imprisoned for “moral crimes” i.e. running away from home has risen by 50% in just 18 months.

Oxfam and ActionAid’s statistics might ease the guilt and relieve the conscience of many, but they are not representative of Afghan women as a whole.

Ask a women in Wardak or Kandahar if she feels the “liberation” of the western intervention and she will look at you with bewilderment. This is because the bells of freedom do not reverberate through Afghanistan. 87% of women continue to be illiterate. As many as 80% have faced forced marriages and life expectancy is 44 years. Why dont Oxfam or ActionAid publish these statistics? Or are they too telling of the failed war on Afghanistan? These figures are ones that expose Afghan women as the biggest losers of the war.

Laura Bush said it was the duty of the humane world to alleviate of the plight of women and children. Yet alleviate they did not..  18 billion dollars and an occupation later, 1 in 4 children before they turn five and Afghanistan is still the worst place in the world for a woman to give birth. It may not even be wrong to argue that the situation has since exasperated. All the money, time and “noble” rhetoric did not manifest into reality. And the western world is still scared today to admit they failed Afghan women.

“We remain caged in our country, without access to justice and still ruled by women-hating criminals. Fundamentalists still preach that “a woman should be in her house or in the grave.” In most places, it is still not safe for a woman to appear in public uncovered, or to walk on the street without a male relative. Girls are sold into marriage. Rape goes unpunished” — Malalai Joya in A Woman Among Warlords.

Mohadesa Najumi is originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, now living in London. You can follow her on@mohadesareverie.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail