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Boise Weekly, May 13, 2009

Why We Fight: U.S. troops die for rapists

Remember this column the next time you watch a flag-draped coffin returning from Afghanistan. The young man inside that box didn't die for nothing. He died to protect rapists.

by Ted Rall

LOS ANGELES— American soldiers serving in Vietnam wondered what they were fighting for. U.S. troops in Afghanistan don't have that problem. They know exactly what they're fighting for: rapists.

Bush with Afghan warlrods
G.W. Bush shaking hand with Afghan warlord Qasim Fahim. Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch said about him on June 4, 2009: "To see Fahim back in the heart of government would be a terrible step backwards for Afghanistan... He is one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands from the civil war... He is widely believed by many Afghans to be still involved in many illegal activities, including running armed militias, as well as giving cover to criminal gangs and drug traffickers....”

After President Barack Obama's coming "Afghan surge," there will be72,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. Their primary mission is to prevent Afghans from overthrowing the unpopular regime of Hamid Karzai, the former oil consultant installed by George W. Bush when the U.S. occupation began nearly eight years ago.

America's media repeatedly claimed that Afghan women would be better off under the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance puppet government headedby Karzai than under the Taliban. But when I went to Afghanistan and asked women what they thought, they had a different story. The defeat of the Taliban brought about the collapse of law and order, making life even more dangerous, especially for women. "Under the Taliban," a woman told me, "I watched rapists being executed. Now I see them in the government."

The Afghan women's rights group RAWA has repeatedly told anyone willing to listen that there hasn't been much improvement for women andgirls since the U.S. occupation began in 2001. But no one—least of all left-of-center Americans eager to embrace the Afghan war—has wanted to hear what they had to say. "Most women still wear the all-encompassingburqa through fear of attack and social pressure, a third of women in Kabul do not leave the house, forbidden from doing so by the male members of the family, and it is still almost impossible for women toget a divorce," reported The Sunday Herald in 2005.

Liberal Democrats who cling to Afghanistan as "the good war" theUnited States should be fighting are being forced to confront the uglytruth about their ally. Karzai has signed a law that states that "womencannot leave the house without their husbands' permission, that theycan only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands'permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex," reportedthe British newspaper The Guardian on March 31.

The Shiite Personal Status Act applies only to devotees of the Shiabranch of Islam, which account for between 10 and 20 percent of thepopulation. How can a secular democratic state have different lawsdepending on a citizen's faith? The answer is: It can't. Afghanistanisn't secular or democratic. The "new" Afghanistan's constitution isbased on Sharia law—exactly as it was under the Taliban. But the U.S.media have purposefully failed to report the icky truth about ourally.

The new law requires women to have sex with their husbands at leastonce every four days unless they are sick or menstruating. "Obedience,readiness for intercourse and not leaving the house without thepermission of the husband are the duties of the wife," reads the law ofa nation ostensibly invaded by U.S. troops in part to liberate Afghanwomen. "As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right tohave sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night," it says.

Afghan Sen. Humaira Namati calls the rape bill "worse than duringthe Taliban" and said it was rammed through parliament without debate."Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam," she said.Several hundred women protesting the law on the streets of Kabul wereviciously assaulted by men as police stood back and watched.

In fairness to the responsible male legislators, they did add aprovision to protect Shiite women from "dead bed": Afghan men have toput out "at least once every four months."

Karzai signed legalized rape into law in order to appease right-winglegislators in an election year. After international criticism,however, he began backpedaling with the lamest of all possible reasons:he didn't read the bill before he was for it.

"I was not aware of what I had signed," Afghan parliamentarianSabrina Saqib said Karzai told her. The legislation "has so manyarticles," Karzai told CNN. "Now I have instructed, in consultationwith clergy of the country, that the law be revised and any articlethat is not in keeping with the Afghan constitution and Islamic Shariamust be removed from this law."

As Karzai bullshits for the cameras, hundreds of Afghan womenlanguish in prisons around the country. Their crime? They're teenbrides, some as young as 10, who ran away from much older husbands whopurchased them. "In President Hamid Karzai's Afghanistan, women arestill imprisoned for running away from home," reports The SundayHerald.

Nice theocracy you got there, Mullah Karzai.

Remember this column the next time you watch a flag-draped coffinreturning from Afghanistan. The young man inside that box didn't diefor nothing. He died to protect rapists.

Ted Rall, president of the Association of American EditorialCartoonists, is author of the books To Afghanistan and Backand Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?

Category: Warlords, Women, US-NATO - Views: 8126