Current plight of Afghan women - ehMac.ca
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old Apr 9th, 2003, 05:19 PM   #1
On Vacation
 
MACSPECTRUM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 14,050
Post

Afghanistan: the Taliban's smiling face
Le Monde Diplomatique, March 2003
By JUDITH HUBER *
IN KABUL women hurry as they go about their business. Most look like blue ghosts in their cover-all burkas. The distinctive walk of those in high heels gives a fleeting glimpse of the embroidered hems of their trousers beneath. These women seem to dress with care. Even the daring few who brave the streets without a burka still bustle, rushing past bearded men, armed and uniformed, sitting lazily on rickety chairs in front of government offices. The men's official headgear is pushed over their foreheads to shield their watchful gaze, always on the look-out for distraction.


Young people ride by on bicycles, honking their horns and telling jokes. Men in traditional clothes walk by hand in hand, laughing and kissing as they greet each other. Merchants stand outside their shops, chatting with customers. Men in the streets of Kabul can take their time: after all, public spaces belong to them. Taiba, educated and energetic, is an Afghan woman currently working in Kabul as a midwife for the relief organisation Terre des hommes. She visits women who are forbidden to leave their homes, even when pregnant or in labour. She recently began wearing the burka again, and for a good reason: slogans on walls throughout Kabul urge women to appear in public only when completely covered. It is hard to say who is behind these messages, signed by "Afghanistan's mojahedin". Taiba does not know: it could be a neighbour, or the armed soldiers on every street corner, or the government's official security forces, made up of former anti-Soviet resistance fighters - the mojahedin.

Women who show their faces in public risk insults and threats in Afghanistan. In Kabul and across the country the limited freedoms granted to women after the fall of the Taliban are being contested anew. The government is partly responsible for this step backwards. It pays lip service to the demands of Western financiers, who forced the government to improve the status of Afghan women. But ultraconservatives inside the government have also sought to impose accepted standards of proper behaviour. Last summer the ministry of Islamic education, which replaced the Taliban's infamous ministry for the promotion of virtue and suppression of vice, began reminding women about the national official dress code, based on Islamic values. Ministry officials approach women in public who, in their eyes, are improperly dressed. They pressure them to respect the code: this means wearing head scarves and long dark coats or skirts to cover the entire body, including wrists and ankles. Make-up is forbidden.

Sometimes these moral guardians escort female "offenders" back to their homes, where they reprimand the women's husbands or relatives. Not surprisingly, women prefer to wear burkas rather than face constant harassment: at least burkas allow them to use make-up without being chastised and to wear what clothes they like underneath.

Rina Amiri, a political liaison officer with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, calls these new moral guardians "the smiling face of the Taliban". The real Taliban required women to observe Islamic values in public. But their requirements were usually enforced by physical violence. In Amiri's view, the government's actions and the recent efforts of "Afghanistan's mojahedin" mean that conservative forces are mobilising. But she does not believe these forces are working in concert: she suspects that individual groups are responsible for the dress-code changes. She stresses that Afghanistan's ideo logical battles have always focused on the behaviour and appearance of women: "Conservatives and progressives alike latch on to the issue in the same way, treating it as a symbol." Security issues are, however, paramount. Fighting between provincial tribal chiefs and non-existent central governmental authority in the regions has had a dramatic impact on Afghan women. Kabul is protected by troops from the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), the UN-sanctioned peacekeeping mission. But outside Kabul laws are flouted and security is uncertain. Since women regularly face physical violence, they are unable to assert their most basic rights (1). Many women are raped, especially among ethnic minorities such as the Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan. The dire economic situation and non-stop fighting force many families to rely on traditional dowries, marrying off - in reality, selling - their daughters, even at very young ages (2). In some regions the Taliban have been replaced by local chiefs or police officials whose attitudes towards women are just like those of their predecessors. Elsewhere Taliban-era officials are still in power. One woman from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif now works on behalf of young people. She speaks bitterly: "They may have changed their hats, but their heads are still the same."

As a rule, the primary concern of Afghan women (and men) is safety, a favourite topic of conversation. Women often say that under the Taliban they were able to travel across the country carrying cash, never having to worry for their personal safety. This conviction goes hand in hand with hopes that law and order will be <\n>re- established, even if the laws prove as cruel as those of the Taliban. Bandits have resumed attacks on communication routes, complicating relief work (3). Many people would prefer to see a more powerful role for the Isaf peacekeepers, although expanding Isaf is no longer mentioned. (The US was originally opposed to Isaf, which has proved very popular with residents of Kabul.) Despite this, none of the countries taking part in Isaf seems willing to provide adequate levels of personnel or funding, and it is probably too late. Local militia leaders now control the Tali ban's former regional strongholds. There are reports from the provinces of torture, clandestine prisons, arbitrary justice, persecuted minorities and internal feuds between armed groups (4). Over the past few months some warlords have consolidated their positions thanks to US money and arms, rewarding them for their support for Washington's war on terrorism (5). Human Rights Watch summed up the situation: "Security has been put in the hands of those who most threaten it" (6).

US officials now seem to understand that Afghanistan's deteriorating security situation threatens US<\p>interests and objectives. Late last year US troops faced mounting criticism as anti-US forces reorganised themselves (7). The international effort to finance and establish a national Afghan army has stalled. At this point only 3,000 soldiers have been trained and many of them have since returned to their former warlord masters (8). To make matters worse, opium production has soared since the defeat of the Taliban (9).

Washington was initially opposed to expanding Isaf on the grounds that the mission would require an expensive civilian presence in Afghanistan. The US has recently adopted a new strategy and is now focusing its efforts on providing stability and rebuilding the country. There are plans for civilian and military action centres in at least eight provincial cities. More fortresses than civilian establishments, these centres will bring together military experts, soldiers and a few civilians; they will join forces to repair roads, build schools and hospitals and dig wells. Their goals are to improve security, prevent the return of the Taliban and al-Qaida and to facilitate relief work. Still, everyone is sure that the US is trying to gain a foothold in the provinces to set up strategic military bases.

Kabul's humanitarian agencies and NGOs are worried about the US plans, with the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief (Acbar) saying that: "We are concerned that using military structures to provide assistance and reconstruction support will both prematurely deflect attention from Afghanistan's deteriorating security situation and also engage the military in a range of activities for which others are better suited" (10). In the view of the NGOs, US troops should focus on maintaining peace outside Kabul; setting up a national army; and disarming and arresting local militia leaders. The US military motivations are fundament ally different from those of the NGOs: the military carry out political and security-related objectives (gathering information for their secret services; strengthening allied local leaders; and promoting their strategic goals), while the NGOs assist those who truly need their help. Given the blurring of the divisions separating military and humanitarian activities, the local population will soon be hard pressed to tell military personnel and relief workers apart. Relief workers face a higher risk of violence in the future. Acbar also points out that a relief worker costs 10 times less than a US soldier. Xavier Crombé, a Kabul-based official with Médecins sans frontières, is concerned about the situation: "Any confusion between military and humanitarian activities threatens our work directly." His colleagues must now take more precautions than before, although the threat of violence does not apply only to relief workers. Crombé adds: "Populations that depend on military support lose their neutrality and could become targets for attacks. That is the danger."


* Judith Huber is a journalist with the Zurich-based weekly Wochenzeitung.

(1) Human Rights Watch, "Taking Cover: Women in Post- Taliban Afghanistan", 9 May 2002; "We Want to Live as Humans", 17 December 2002 (www.hrw.org). See also Christine Delphy, "Free to die", Le Monde diplomatique, English language edition, March 2002.

(2) "Report of the Secretary-General on women and girls in terri tories occupied by Afghan armed groups", UN Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, 12 July 2002.

(3) UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, "Afghanistan Weekly Situation Report 6-12 December 2002", Kabul, 13 December 2002.

(4) "The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace", UN Security Council, 21 October 2002.

(5) Jason Burke and Peter Beaumont, "West pays warlords to stay in line", The Observer, London, 21 July 2002; Associated Press, 16 October 2002.

(6) Human Rights Watch, "All Our Hopes Are Crushed", 5 November 2002.

(7) Dan Plesch, "Failure of the 82nd airborne", Guardian, 19 December 2002; Associated Press, 25 December 2002; Luke Harding, "Karzai's first anniversary", The Guardian, London, 23 December 2002.

(8) Sebastian Mallaby, "Wishful thinking on Afghanistan", Washington Post, 25 November 2002.

(9) Opium production increased from 185 metric tons in 2001 to 3,400 in 2002. "Afghanistan Opium Survey 2002", UN Office on Drugs and Crime, October 2002.

(10) "Acbar Policy Brief", Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief, 7 December 2002.

Translated by Luke Sandford http://rawa.fancymarketing.net/women.html
MACSPECTRUM is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old Apr 9th, 2003, 06:56 PM   #2
Full Citizen
 
Britnell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Toronto
Posts: 719
Send a message via AIM to Britnell
Post

Is this a model for democracy in Iraq?
__________________
Necessity is the excuse for every infringement of human freedom.<br />It is the argument of the tyrant and the creed of the slave.<br /> -- William Pitt, 1763
Britnell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 9th, 2003, 07:45 PM   #3
On Vacation
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Trawna
Posts: 1,415
Post

macspectrum,

Thanks.

An excellent and thorough update on the US's lethal liberation movement.
Some readers here will have to look away very quickly.
macello is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 10th, 2003, 03:33 AM   #4
Honourable Citizen
 
MacNutt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Salt Spring Island B.C.
Posts: 8,774
Post

Afghanistan is only one year past the terrible rule of the Taliban. It's no wonder that they haven't fully recovered yet. Give it some time...it's better than it was. Even the article seems to say so. It says that women are being escorted back to their homes and reprimanded for not covering themselves fully. In the past, they would have been beaten senseless in the streets by government approved gangs for the very same "crime". It also mentions women wearing high-heeled shoes in public. When did THAT ever happen under the Taliban?

And we are not seeing women being executed publicly, in the big soccer stadiums any more, are we?

Hey...it's not much, but it's something. again...give it some time. It almost seems as though you are being forced to reach for some scrap of data to hate the Americans about.

Why not relax a bit...and enjoy. It is a good moment. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are better than they were. No question about it at all.

BTW...macello...I didn't have to "look away" from the above article at all. It shows some progress since the US's "lethal invasion".

Did you have to "look away" when you saw the huge crowds of Iraqis cheering the US soldiers in the streets of Baghdad? Did it bother you that they were so very overjoyed by the presence of the US troops? Did you cringe as you watched the Iraqi crowds haul down the statue of Saddam?

Yep...it's a pretty lethal invasion...isn't it?
MacNutt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 10th, 2003, 04:19 AM   #5
On Vacation
 
MACSPECTRUM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 14,050
Post

Even CBC reported that the cheering crowds were not "huge."
What the hell do they know? They only have a reporter at the scene.
They are just a major news media source that has been at it for over 50 years.
The view from SSI must be much clearer. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

PS - Environics poll released on CBC April 9 shows that in B.C. Steven Harper et al dropped 12 points and that support went directly to... wait for it.... the Liberals....
Jean Chretien enjoys 70% approval rating on his stance on supporting the UN (aka multilateralism) in his decision NOT to send Canadian troops into Iraq.
MACSPECTRUM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 10th, 2003, 04:46 AM   #6
Honourable Citizen
 
MacNutt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Salt Spring Island B.C.
Posts: 8,774
Post

macspectrum...the CBC, like most of the other critcs of this particular military action...are very busy right now trying to spin this into something that won't make themselves look so bad. Or so very wrong.

I'm sure you're familiar with this type of spin. It's currently much in vogue with the adherents of the left. On a whole range of subjects.

Misdirection is also a component of this "covering action". Point at something totally unrelated (but vaguely right-wing) and say, rather loudly "...yes...but look at THIS!" in the faint hope that people will forget about the bad data and get worked up about something else.

That is how I would characterise your comments regarding Stephen Harper.

I care not one whit about some poll results regarding the current leader of the Loyal Opposition. It means nothing.

What is really important here, is how we percieve our sitting government in a few weeks, when we have all had time to digest the events of today.

Will we still all think that Jean Chretien did us proud? Will we still be on his side when we see what sort of repercussions we have to deal with for our unwillingness to help our friends when they asked for that help? When contracts are being cancelled, when American companies begin to shop elsewhere for some of their goods, and when our borders are even more difficult to cross?

And, when we are all quite sure of the horrors that Saddam was inflicting on his own people, and what he was planning for the rest of us...will we still think that the Chretien Liberals made the right choices at this crucial point?

I wonder.

I should note here that King Jean has been making one of his classic flip-flops of policy in the past few days. Once it became obvious that the US was going to be very sucessful in removing the despot without any massive casualties, then old Jean began to publicly wish the Americans well on their quest. Pretty soon he will be trying to spin this into a wholehearted support for the US actions...after the fact.

The Americans aren't buying it. I'm not either. And I suspect that most thinking Canadians are starting to get a very creepy feeling about the Liberals latest public gaffe.

I wonder how THAT will play out in future polls?

Stay tuned.
MacNutt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 10th, 2003, 04:48 AM   #7
Assured Advertiser
Honourable Citizen
 
jfpoole's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
Posts: 2,197
Send a message via AIM to jfpoole Send a message via MSN to jfpoole
Post

Actually, 72% of Canadians think that Canada should have backed the war in Iraq, with 31% believing we should have sent troops, too.

<blockquote>Asked to choose a reason for joining the war effort, 42% of people said it would be because Saddam and his allies are a threat to the West.

Toppling Saddam to stop Islamist terrorists was chosen as a reason by 15%, with 14% choosing "Americans are our friends."

Only 13% cited the U.S.'s position as Canada's biggest trading partner as the reason to support the war.</blockquote>
jfpoole is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 10th, 2003, 05:34 AM   #8
On Vacation
 
MACSPECTRUM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 14,050
Post

Environics poll http://erg.environics.net/news/default.asp?aID=515
MACSPECTRUM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 10th, 2003, 05:37 AM   #9
On Vacation
 
MACSPECTRUM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 14,050
Post

Face it.
the CA will never form a gov't
their support is declining
they promised much and delivered little, except splintering the right
most Canadians agree with our prime minmister, the Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien in his stance to support the UN

Deal with it !
MACSPECTRUM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 10th, 2003, 05:49 AM   #10
Assured Advertiser
Honourable Citizen
 
jfpoole's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
Posts: 2,197
Send a message via AIM to jfpoole Send a message via MSN to jfpoole
Post

Interesting that both polls came up with different numbers. Assuming that neither poll is fundamentally flawed, the explanation that springs to my mind is that the Environics poll was conducted earlier (7-27 March compared to 4-6 April), and that support for the US seems to have risen since the first week of the war.

Of course, we'll have to wait and see. It will be interesting to see if Environics does a follow-up poll, and what those results would be....
jfpoole is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
40 reasons why it's good to be a woman MACSPECTRUM Everything Else, eh! 19 Aug 16th, 2005 10:57 PM
Please help end violence against women and children! r2traps Everything Else, eh! 3 Feb 11th, 2004 11:16 AM
Do Your Part to STOP War!!! Mississauga Everything Else, eh! 470 Mar 19th, 2003 04:26 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:13 PM.



Copyright © 1999 - 2012, ehMac.ca All rights reserved. ehMac is not affiliated with Apple Inc. Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, Apple TV are trademarks of Apple Inc. Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 RC 2

Tribe.ca: Urban living in Toronto!