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
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.
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.
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.