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Posts tagged Feminist Majority Foundation

Violence against women and girls in Afghanistan

From Feminist Daily News (2008-08-08): Rape, Sex Abuse of Afghan Girls Continues:

Afghan girls continue to be sexually exploited, reported the Afghan Interior Ministry Thursday. The Ministry told Reuters that the number of sexual assaults on children has significantly increased. The Afghanistan Human Rights Organization (AHRO) has reported that in January a 10 year-old girl was raped in Jowzjan province and that groups of men raped a 12 year-old girl in June in Sar-I-Pol province and a 3 year-old girl in July in Jowzjan province. Cases like these abound.

A 12 year-old girl who was raped at gunpoint by five men has publicly spoken about the gang rape. A video of the girl and her family was posted online by the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan. The girl pleads for help from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Since the video became public, the family has met with Karzai, who has reportedly fired the police chief where the attack occurred, according to CNN.

Relatedly, an Islamic cleric was detained for allegedly presiding over a marriage of a 7 year-old girl to a 17 or 18 year-old man. Legally, girls under 16 and boys under 18 can not marry in Afghanistan. However, according to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women 57% of Afghan girls are married before age 16, frequently to settle their family's debts or other disputes.

— Feminist Daily News Wire (2008-08-08): Rape, Sex Abuse of Afghan Girls Continues

It’s important to remember that, whatever problems Afghan men may or may not have as a cultural group, the rampant violence against women and girls in Afghanistan has nothing essentially to do with some peculiar vice of Afghans, or with some peculiar vice of Muslims. The violence and the devaluing of girls’ lives and freedoms has to do with some things that are shared by all known cultures — violent patriarchy, male sexual entitlement — and a lot also to do with a set of political and economic circumstances — the political elevation and unchecked power of regional warlords with the arms and backing of the U.S. military, the ongoing civil war between U.S.-backed and Taliban-backed fundamentalist factions, the grinding poverty produced by years of war and sustained by a military occupation and an insane, U.S.-sponsored attack on Afghanistan’s most lucrative cash crop, and so on — which sustain an environment of poverty, terror, and insecurity, which the most vulnerable people — especially women and girls — bear the brunt of. War is the health of the patriarchy, and the conditions created and sustained by war and occupation and the zealous effort to impose the U.S. government’s imperial policies (such as the terror-famine drug eradication policy) on Afghanistan, are all part and parcel of the problem. As I said in an earlier post, on the issue of marrying off young girls:

One good way to make any existing form of oppression even worse is to throw the people involved in it into desperate poverty: the first victims of poverty are always the most vulnerable people within the poor community, and in places where the human dignity and well-being of women and girls is worth less than nothing to the men who hold cultural and political power, one of the things that poor families are going to “sell” is likely to be the lives of their young girls.

— GT 2007-01-13: The tall poppies, part 2: The tall poppies, part 2: food, drugs, and female sexual slavery in Afghanistan

And the point goes not just for the specific policy of opium eradication (as disastrous and idiotic as that particular policy is), but for the whole program of U.S. Empire in Afghanistan.

Please support the life-saving work of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, which is working to provide refuges and schools for women, to oppose warlordism and misogynist fundamentalism, and to end the U.S. government’s ongoing occupation and war against the people of Afghanistan.

See also:

Media Punditocracy Cuts Women out of the Discussion

For the past 5 years feminists have been doing most of the work in understanding and combatting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan is one of the largest and most firmly-established anti-Taliban resistance groups in the world. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan has been the authority in the US on the Taliban regime for nearly five years (Eleanor Smeal has given briefings to Congress on the topic and has testified before a joint hearing of two U.S. Senate Foreign Relations subcommittees). Acclaimed journalist Saira Shah lived undercover as an Afghan woman (with the assistance of RAWA) to make her groundbreaking documentary, Beneath the Veil. Because the first victims of the Taliban were women, women and women’s groups, abroad and also in the U.S., are the most credible authorities on the Taliban regime.

And yet, somehow or another it ended up happening that only 12% of television programs have featured women as experts on the post-September 11 crises [FMF], even after the U.S. alleged the complicity of the Taliban in the attacks. Instead, they are trotting out the predictable crowd of old white male pundits: generals, retired CIA operatives, State Department cronies. In the time since September 11, I have seen networks, without a trace of irony, put Bob McNamara, Henry Kissinger, and Oliver North in front of the camera as experts on what we ought to do about international terrorism. Well, I guess they ought to know–when it comes to terrorism, maybe it takes one to know one!

So, while the media drumbeat for the war continues it’s the same old cock-swinging commandos droning on about Afghanistan. The same CIA and State Department cronies who propped up the Mujahedeen and the Taliban in the first place, who trained Osama bin Laden because they believed that foreign jihadi were more reliable opponents of the pro-Soviet regime than locals. And since women’s voices are being silenced, no-one much seems to be pointing out that Afghan women were the first and most horrifically victimized by the Taliban regime. That Afghan women, who are imprisoned in their homes and banned from driving or travelling without a male relative on pain of death, cannot escape the cluster bombs dropping over their heads. That women continue to be oppressed our equally thuggish allies in the Northern Alliance (who are nothing more than the old Mujahedeen). That women have repeatedly been cut out of the tribal councils on forming a new government, and the U.S. government can’t be bothered to give a damn whether or not equity for women is brought up as an issue in the formation and constitution of a post-Taliban State.

The mealy-mouthed monologue of the corporate/government-colonized newsmedia has been parroting the words of feminists that they ignored for years–deploying a weak brand of pop feminism against the Taliban to keep the war fervor high. And yet, somehow, it seems that the actual women are not being included in the dialogue, and the actual needs facing women in Afghanistan are not being discussed.

What a fucking surprise.

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