Malalai Joya In The NYT

Lacking access to broadcasters and the media within Afghanistan means that her message “for women’s rights, for human rights, against injustice and occupation,” can be spread only by telephone, by clandestine meetings in safe houses and through a poster campaign.

The United States cited the status of women among reasons for its intervention in Afghanistan. Yet Ms. Joya, who taught girls in secret basement schools during the Taliban years, argues that the situation of women has not improved.

Pointing to the 1920s, when Afghan women traveled to Turkey to study without head scarves or male relatives to accompany them, and to the 1950s, when Afghan women had professional careers, she said that the decline of women’s rights in her country was above all an issue of power.

Levels of domestic violence, rape, forced marriage and suicide make the condition of women today “worse than hell,” she says. For that she blames what she calls President Hamid Karzai’s “corrupt, misogynistic government and his circle of warlords” and on his appointments to Afghan courts.

Hamed Elmi, deputy spokesman for Mr. Karzai in Kabul, discounted Ms. Joya’s accusations. “The government is not corrupt, but we have some corrupt people in government — we try to identify and tackle the issue,” Mr. Elmi said by telephone.

He added that Afghanistan had made progress in involving women at all levels of government and that it could not be ascertained that there were warlords in Parliament since the courts had not proven them guilty. “We have an independent judiciary system,” he said. As for whether the government was misogynistic, he said simply: “She is wrong.”

Back in her homeland, Ms. Joya said, the NATO forces were perpetuating the repression of women by propping up warlords she described as interchangeable with the Taliban.

She called for the immediate departure of foreign troops, even if it would lead to more violence in the civil war. “It is better to leave us alone,” she said. “We will know what to do with our destiny.”

2 Responses to “Malalai Joya In The NYT”

  1. Jotman Says:

    I have been reading about Afghanistan, following the situation closely in the news, and it’s not clear what Obama is trying to accomplish over there.

    Something that has occurred since the invasion: Pakistan appears far less stable than before. Another thing: Pakistan no longer has such a close ally along its Western frontier. Could these situations be connected?

    So to what extent has the situation for women deteriorated or improved in Pakistan since the US invasion of Afghanistan? Do women in Iraq have more or less equality today than in 2002?

  2. RickB Says:

    A very short answer may be -divide and rule. While of course there are new wrinkles, details and nuance I think we should never forget Great Gaming and Empire are never far away.

    As for the situation of women, I think firstly we would have to acknowledge that pretences that women’s rights had a deciding motivational factor are pure PR. In Iraq I have seen some accounts that because the despotic but secular Saddam era was over rights have become prey to religious extremists more than in the past, the ‘elections’ are showing a strong nationalist feeling more than religious so who knows about the future. In Pakistan the problem of the ISI is huge, they use fundie groups as proxies and overall have massive power as does the police/military compact and it seems to me they are really mostly interested in power and rights are not an issue except in the PR sense. The ‘Taliban’ and the military both abuse the people and security and in the US view their national security (a nebulous concept that largely in the US case could be interchanged with imperialism) is what the power blocs want while viewing rights as secondary or negotiable sometime in the future. I was reading parts of Irene Khans book
    and she makes very clear this piecemeal orthodoxy that rights will emerge once other conditions are established is nonsense. The ends are the means, you begin with rights, so far no force does that (despite what they may claim).

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