After a decade of boots on the ground in the Middle East, the military extraction date set for the summer of 2014 can not come soon enough for some Americans. There is talk about how the civilian death toll in Afghanistan has dropped to its lowest figure in six years, but silence on the UN report stating that this past year the number of females killed or injured has grown by 20 percent.
To American citizens safe and sound inside our borders snuggled up with the Bill of Rights and Constitution hearing the word ‘Taliban” is routine, and just means that someone left the TV on the news channel again. For the women of Afghanistan, the word Taliban carries with it a tangible rancor and suffocating barbarism that they are forced to stare down every single day.
Afghanistan’s 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women law is currently being targeted for amendments such as: the removal of any and all criminal penalties for rape, the abolishment of women’s shelters and dissolving the minimum marriage age clause. Is the plight of Afghan women unworthy of feminist group Code Pink’s attention because it is not happening in their medicine cabinets or in the feminine hygiene aisle?
So it looks like women’s rights in the Middle East are riding a greased fireball into extinction again, but as long as no one lays a finger on my birth control, “all is well” is the unsaid message of feminist movements in the United States who would typically raise awareness of local and global women’s rights atrocities.
The War on Women so vigorously peddled among the mainstream media has merged with the War on Terror to become a seething reality in the hearts and minds of women conveniently stowed 6,956.6 miles out of America’s line of vision.
To more fully detail the crisis that is women’s rights or lack thereof in Afghanistan, one could reference any of the brave and truly heroic women of all ages speaking out at Women for Afghan Women shelters.
Recent incidents of violence against women include Zakia, who was publicly gutted like a sheep and left to die by her father and brother for refusing to marry a stranger more than twice her age. Upon regaining consciousness she pushed her intestines back inside her body through the gash her father had made in her abdomen, held her slit throat together, and picked herself up out of a puddle of her own blood to stand and face the strangers coming towards her to tell them who had done this to her.
Abhorrent acts of violence against women happen routinely even up to this day in Afghanistan. The solution to this institutionalized cultural violence doesn’t come in 12 easy steps and no timeline can be set to it. The only hope for liberating the women of Afghanistan comes in raising awareness and lowering international tolerance for these acts.
As stated in an article by Saira Zuberi of Association for Women’s Rights in Development, “Caught between foreign occupation, a corrupt government, warlords and the Taliban insurgents … it is crucial that the inclusion and meaningful participation of women be made non-negotiable in the transition process and in any discussions of peace and security.”
All Americans want the troops home, but pulling out of Afghanistan before adequately preparing the country to function without our military aide will once again create a power vacuum and jihadist site in a volatile region, nearly identical to the one that gave rise to the Taliban roughly 20 years ago. It is heartbreaking to think of the sacrifices our troops and their families have made in the War on Terror being devalued due to political impatience. Equally tragic is leaving in our wake thousands of Afghan women struggling to maintain the meager rights they currently have come 2014.
The goal for the final U.S. hands off in Afghanistan shouldn’t be a seamless country, but a country with the stability and means to resist extremism, while representing and protecting its women as well as its men.