Green Left Weekly, August 6, 2003
no help to Afghan women
SYDNEY — “Afghanistan has become a forgotten story once again", said Tahmeena Faryal, a representative of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), during her recent speaking tour of Australia.
“A lot was promised by the United States and allied countries”, Faryal said. “A lot was promised by the government of Afghanistan, which of course, is based on the support of the United States. Yet, nothing was done.”
Faryal was born in Afghanistan and raised in Pakistani refugee camps. She joined RAWA at a young age after attending a school run by RAWA members. Today she travels around the world speaking out on behalf of Afghan women and their rights.
While in Sydney, Faryal addressed a July 31 vigil on the steps of Sydney Town Hall organised by Women in Black, an international network of women opposed to war and militarism. That evening Faryal spoke about the situation facing women in Afghanistan at an informal dinner sponsored by Women in Black.
Faryal explained how Afghan women had suffered from US intervention and the rule of political Islam, which came to power with the direct support of the US. She argued that US intervention has never been aimed at liberating the masses in Afghanistan but rather, at advancing US political and economic interests.
In a media release about Faryal's tour, Women in Black highlighted the findings of a new report from the US-based Human Rights Watch organisation which found that the persecution and rape of Afghan women continues unabated despite the overthrow of the ultra-Islamist Taliban regime by the US in late 2001.
“Interviews suggest that sexual violence against women, girls, and boys is both frequent and almost never reported”, the report states. “Women, girls, and boys are abducted outside of their homes in broad daylight and sexually assaulted. In some areas girls have been abducted on the way to school. Women and girls are raped in their homes, typically during the evening or night during armed robberies. One attack was seemingly intended to silence a women's rights activist...
“The consequences of sexual violence are dire for women and girls not only in terms of direct physical harm but also in terms of curtailed participation in civil society and the public sphere, including in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Sexual violence also curtails their rights to education, to work, and to health care.”