The Socialist (Publication of the Socialist Party, USA), March/April 2000, Volume 26, No.2
Afghanistan: The Perilous Struggle
We greet you, dear friend, from Afghanistan, from the midst of the flames of the most horrendous women's inferno on earth. In trampled and forgotten Afghanistan, at the dawn of the 21st century; women and children are doomed in the name of the Koran and Islamic share. Though our country continues to the land of this most shameful humanitarian disaster; the world authority has undertaken any meaningful steps against the fundamentalists to this human right tragedy, least of all the US, which opposes the ruling Taliban not because they are terrorizing our but only because a former blue-eyed boy of the CIA Osama bin Laden --is here on Afghan soil.
Women in our country are indeed doomed. They die in their homes from the most common and most easily treatable diseases because of lack of access to basic health care, for the sole reason that they have no mahram (legal male escort). They are tormented by filth and infested by lice, unable to see to personnel cleanliness and hygiene due to lack of water, power and fuel as the result of appalling, imposed poverty. Their talents, energies and potential are wasted because of an illiteracy rate of over 75 percent. They are doomed to watch themselves and their daughters wither form the everlasting torment of vegetation in ignorance and degradation.
The living hell of our country's women cannot be compared with Kosovo, Kashmir, Iran or anywhere else. The Taliban fundamentalist terrorists aim to beat half of our society through systematic humiliation. They arrogantly question women's human dignity to silence any defiant women's voice.
But wherever there is injustice, there is resistance. The Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan (RAWA), now the only political anti-fundamentalist group in Afghanistan, is fighting against the Taliban and other so-called Afghan leaders who are responsible for human rights in our land.
Roots of Struggle
RAWA was established in Kabul in 1977 as an independent political and feminist organization of women fighting for women's right and human right. It was founded by a group of Afghan women in intellectuals headed by Meena, who was assassinated in 1987 in Pakistan. Before the Russian invasion in 1979, RAWA's activities were confined to agitation for women's rights and democracy.
After the occupation by soviet forces, RAWA became directly involved in the war of resistance. Due to the suffocating socio-political situation prevailing in Afghanistan, in 1982 RAWA shifted most of its activities to Pakistan where it established schools for Afghan refugee boys and girls and hospital for refugee women and children.
Since the overthrow of the soviet-installed regime in 1992 the focus of our political activities has been against Islamic fundamentalists of all shades and colors. As RAWA had long foreseen, the incredibly misogynic force that seized power after the withdrawal of Russian troops committed such inhuman crimes, especially towards women, that no precedent can be found in the annals of world history. The barbarism of the Taliban since their appearance in 1994 even surpass the shocking atrocities of their Jihadi brethren. Both are Islamic fundamentalists, anti women, anti democracy, and dependent on foreign powers. Only through struggle for their elimination can we achieve a democratic society.
Today RAWA struggles against fundamentalism of all shades and colors and for establishing a social order based on democratic values, freedom and women's right. We are active both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Besieged and under constant attacks and threats from all side, we cannot hope to be able to conduct open activities. Most of our work is clandestine or semi-clandestine.
Apart form the political challenges facing RAWA, we work for healthcare, education, income generation, promotion of culture, aid to orphans, and other social and relief work amongst women and children. For example, since the Taliban have banned all educational institution for girls, RAWA is conducting home-based classes in different parts of Afghanistan. However we do not at the moment enjoy any support from international NGOs, and all our social programs are greatly student for lack of funds.
The restrictions that Taliban have placed on women make it very difficult to conduct our activities. We constantly receive death threats and hate mail. The Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists are so intolerant of our activities that they recently attacked a peaceful demonstration we staged in Pakistan! Every day there are tens and hundreds of other such incidents.
Unfortunately, other Afghan women groups capitulate to the fundamentalists. Some believe that instead of struggle, women should grovel, spread their head scarves at the feet of the so-called leaders (symbolic act of abject supplication) and implore them to have compassion. But we believe that in view of the great pain and suffering of our devastated people, freedom-loving organizations and individuals need to abandon their passivity and neutrality towards the fundamentalists and resist their barbaric rule at whatever level and with whatever means possible.
The women of RAWA have faith that the unity of democratic forces can rally and mobilize a broad anti fundamentalist front to bring about peace and democracy in our country. Because so many have refused to remain indifferent to this SOS from the women of Afghanistan, we know we will win. Donations are urgently needed. Contact: Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan (RAWA); P.O.Box 374, Quetta, Pakistan; Fax 001-760-2819855; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.rawa.org.