The Rights of Afghan Women

The Rights of Afghan Women

Suddenly there is major concern across the country – from mainstream media to all the latest rock-rib Republicans – for the rights of Afghan women and girls to be able to work, to go to school.

Oh my God, we gave Afghanistan back to the Taliban! Even George W. Bush has found his way back into the news cycle: “I think the consequences are going to be incredibly bad and sad.

America, America, the global benefactor, bearer of civilized values ​​in the Middle East. This is why we have hemorrhaged trillions of dollars over the past two decades by committing the evil itself. This is why hundreds of thousands of people had to die, millions had to be displaced. We stood up for the rights of. . . people we care less about.

The Rights of Afghan Women

There is a paradox here, shrouded in lies and feel-good PR.

Afghan women are indeed threatened by the reconquest of the country by the Taliban. Their loss of their human rights should certainly be a matter of global concern – just as everything wrong with the planet should be, from poverty to war to climate catastrophe – but the US military is doing it. deeply part of the problem, not the solution. And the mainstream media, always looking for simple answers, seem unable to find out.

This is what you need to know: “The Afghan women of today are not the women of 26 years ago.

The speaker is Taranum Sayeedi, one of some two dozen Afghan women who recently protested in front of what had been, until the Taliban shut it down, the Kabul Women’s Ministry. It was replaced by the Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which was part of the government during the previous era of the Taliban regime in the 1990s, to which she was referring. This was the time when religious police arrested women on the streets if they were not properly covered. . . or listened to music.

The fact that Afghan women are opposing this now is a surge of global hope. Let him be part of a global human rights movement. Movements of change emerge from the cultural core. Human rights are claimed and won. They are not a “gift” from the military. The 19th Amendment was not preceded by airstrikes on the nation’s capital.

So, a crucial question that accompanies the protests of Afghan women is: how can the rest of the world support them?

I don’t think the answer is more drone strikes.

But that seems to be the hypothesis floating in the air as former Bush administration staff, including W himself, weigh in on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan 20 years in the quagmire (aka, the mission ). The deep irony, as Belen Fernandez points out to Al Jazeera, is that Bush’s war on terror “has so far killed over 47,000 civilians (including women) in Afghanistan alone and displaced millions of people. people “.

Women’s rights are hardly what you would call a basic military or political value. Most militarists, I think, are adamantly against feminism of any sort – but they’ll pick up on any cause they can if it helps them define the enemy of the moment. Waging war begins with public relations.

And the irony intensifies. It can hardly be said that the US military, which claims to support women’s rights in Afghanistan, values ​​women’s rights within its own ranks. Rape has long been a side effect of militarism and war, and discussion – let alone investigative – about it has long been avoided.

“For decades, sexual assault and harassment has escalated within the ranks of the armed forces, with military leaders repeatedly promising reforms and then breaking those promises,” writes Melinda Wenner Moyer to The New York Times, noting that , according to numerous studies, “nearly one in four military women report having been sexually assaulted in the military, and more than half say they have been the victim of harassment.”

She adds: “Many soldiers leave the military shortly after experiencing sexual trauma – and not on purpose. Not only are military rapists rarely punished, but their victims are often punished for reporting what happened. According to a 2018 Defense Ministry survey of active duty members, 38% of female service members who reported their assaults suffered professional retaliation afterward.

And, as if all that wasn’t horrible enough, in 2019, “women accounted for 31% of all suicide attempts among active duty members,” she writes. This is double the number of women in the military.

It is the culture of domination in full bloom. A few years ago, addressing the issue of military rape, I wrote: “Perhaps it is time to examine the values ​​themselves – starting with those of our military culture, which is the model, and even the metaphor, of any other form of culture of domination. : The primary value is victory. . . . And in a culture based on victory, the rapist is the winner.

When we tear down public relations, it becomes clear that women’s rights – in fact, human rights – remain a global affair and require a global, non-violent movement: a movement that is just beginning.

Robert koehler
Robert Koehler is an award-winning Chicago-based journalist and nationally unionized writer. He is also the author of the book Courage Grows Strong at the Wound which is now available on Amazon. Contact him at [email protected] or visit their website at

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