I was talking about Afghanistan the other day and it was pointed out that the USA has an obligation to stay in Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s religious fundamentalism and atrocious treatment of women. I really can’t argue, the Taliban regime was brutal and misogynistic, and there’s no reason to believe it will be any different if the USA pulls out. I mean, I’m a passionate feminist and supporter of women’s rights, secular government, and democracy. So it’s a very powerful argument, and I’m not surprised that the plight of women in Afghanistan is a concern to Americans. Republicans and Democrats alike use the brutality of the Taliban toward women as an argument for the USA continuing to keep troops in Afghanistan.
And there’s no doubt the women of Afghanistan want freedom and human rights. In fact they have been fighting for them for a long time. RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan was founded in 1977 by Meena and other women in Afghanistan as a political/social organization fighting for human rights and social justice. They quickly became a widespread force striving to make Afghanistan a modern secular democracy. And when the Soviets invaded a few years later they took up the armed struggles as well, and unlike the various US supported fundamentalist mujahadeen who rose up to fight the Russians, RAWA continued to stand for democracy, human rights, and secular values.
And after the Soviets left, RAWA continued the struggle. They fought the fundamentalist warlords who toppled the Soviets. Then they fought the Taliban. Their founder was killed, many of their leaders slain, their activities punished and suppressed at every turn … yet they continued their struggle. It’s a story of bravery and determination that brings tears to my eyes, before I looked this up I had no idea that there was an organized woman’s movement in Afghanistan that has been fighting for human rights and democracy for decades. I can only say I fully support their struggle, and urge everyone who cares about human rights in Afghanistan to do the same.
In fact they are more in ever in need of support today. this is because they are simultaneously fighting the Taliban … and the fundamentalist regime the USA installed in Afghanistan. Say what, didn’t the USA install a modern democracy in Kabul? Not according to them:
“The US “War on terrorism” removed the Taliban regime in October 2001, but it has not removed religious fundamentalism which is the main cause of all our miseries. In fact, by reinstalling the warlords in power in Afghanistan, the US administration is replacing one fundamentalist regime with another. The US government and Mr.Karzai mostly rely on Northern Alliance criminal leaders who are as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban.
RAWA believes that freedom and democracy can’t be donated; it is the duty of the people of a country to fight and achieve these values. Under the US-supported government, the sworn enemies of human rights, democracy and secularism have gripped their claws over our country and attempt to restore their religious fascism on our people.”
So the next time someone wants to tell me that the USA involvement in Afghanistan is all about freedom for Afghan women, they need to explain how running the country with fundamentalist lackeys is helping them? Are they aware that in “liberated” Afghanistan, it’s legal for a man to rape his wife, and for him to sell his daughters into marriage when they are children? I’m also curious to know how many of the people who bring up the Taliban and their treatment of women … actually know something about Meena, RAWA, and the women fighting for freedom, democracy, and secular human rights in Afghanistan.? I’m willing to bet it’s almost none.
And sadly, I’m willing to bet that even if informed about these facts, most of the supporters of the USA occupation won’t skip a beat. They will simultaneously deny the facts, and assert that it would be worse if we left. In other words, Washington has no real concern for the women of Afghanistan, in the sense that they will decide their fate for them and refuse to even acknowledge their voice. How, exactly, is that any different than the Taliban controlling women’s lives? In any event I appreciate that the plight of the women of Afghanistan was brought to my attention. The USA government is cynically using the Taliban’s treatment of women to justify a regime and a war that is making things even worse for the women of Afghanistan. One more excellent reason why we should ask ourselves what the hell we are doing in Afghanistan. If our presence in Afghanistan is making things worse, why isn’t withdrawal an option?