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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail