February 12, 2004
The Guardian

Rule of the Rapists

Britain and the US said war on Afghanistan would liberate women. We are still waiting

by Mariam Rawi

When the US began bombing Afghanistan on October 7 2001, the oppression of Afghan women was used as a justification for overthrowing the Taliban regime. Five weeks later America's first lady, Laura Bush, stated triumphantly: "Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women."

However, Amnesty International paints a rather different picture: "Two years after the ending of the Taliban regime, the international community and the Afghan transitional administration, led by President Hamid Karzai, have proved unable to protect women. The risk of rape and sexual violence by members of armed factions and former combatants is still high. Forced marriage, particularly of girl children, and violence against women in the family are widespread in many areas of the country."

In truth, the situation of women in Afghanistan remains appalling. Though girls and women in Kabul, and some other cities, are free to go to school and have jobs, this is not the case in most parts of the country. . . .

Even in Kabul, where thousands of foreign troops are present, Afghan women do not feel safe, and many continue to wear the burka for protection. . . .


[Mariam Rawi, a member of the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, is writing under a pseudonym]

John Pilger, "Afghanistan: 'The Generosity of America'," The Guardian, September 20, 2003

[Three years after the overthrow of the Taliban and George Bush's declaration of victory in the first conflict in the war on terror, Afghanistan is a nation on the edge of anarchy.--Colin Brown and Kim Sengupta, "Afghanistan, the war the world forgot," The Independent, May 25, 2004]

[The United Nations should withdraw all its personnel from Afghanistan as the country has become too dangerous to work in, the UN staff union has said.--"UN staff call for Afghan pullout," BBC News, August 21, 2004]

Mike Whitney, "American Negligence: The Unraveling of Afghanistan," CounterPunch, August 23, 2004

[The 40-year-old conflict is pitting two leftist rebel armies against rightwing paramilitaries and the government. . . .

According to one testimony from an indigenous leader, paramilitaries cut the breasts off young women "to make their presence felt".

The report also accuses the US-backed government security forces for sexual assaults on women in areas where they are deployed.--Sibylla Brodzinsky, "' Thousands raped' in Colombia ," Guardian, October 14, 2004]

N.C. Aizenman, "Afghan Crime Wave Breeds Nostalgia for Taliban," Washington Post, March 18, 2005

"Afghan women 'still suffer abuse'," BBC, May 30, 2005

[Between 60 and 80 per cent of all marriages in Afghanistan are forced. As many as 57 per cent of girls are married off below the age of 16, some as young as six. Because of the custom of paying a bride price, marriage is essentially a financial transaction, and girls a commodity.--Justin Huggler, "Women's lives 'no better' in new Afghanistan," Independent, November 1, 2006]

[The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan, India and Somalia feature in descending order after Afghanistan in the list of the five worst states--Owen Bowcott, "Afghanistan worst place in the world for women, but India in top five," Guardian, June 15, 2011]

[Even in the absence of a government run by the Taliban, Afghan women suffer from religious extremism--Rod Norland, "Portrait of Pain Ignites Debate Over Afghan War,", August 4, 2010]

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