Afghan – The Good War and the Women of Afghanistan

Afghan Child Bride

“We had al Qaeda and the Taliban on the run back in 2002. But then we diverted military, intelligence, financial, and diplomatic resources to Iraq. And yet Senator McCain has said as recently as this April that, ‘Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.’ I think that just shows a dangerous misjudgment of the facts, and a stubborn determination to ignore the need to finish the fight in Afghanistan.” ~ Barack Obama, June, 2008

President Obama once called the war in Afghanistan the right war. It has been fought with varying degrees of intensity and at a tremendous loss of life.

We didn’t go into Afghanistan to save the women and children nor did the Russians. In fact, prior to the Russian invasion of 1978, women had it better and the people were better educated. The land does not contain oil or other minerals like so many of their neighbors. It is a barren land, but one on which the poppies grow abundantly.

Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic. The Russians attempted to secularize it during their nine year invasion and failed. The United States has attempted to educate the populace and help them build schools and businesses while fighting a war on their lands.

Ten years ago, it was the country with women being beaten and killed by their husbands, being forced into prostitution, children of 11 being married off, and school girls with acid thrown in their faces for wanting to learn.

One photo and story from that time haunts me. It was of a woman with 7 children whose husband abandoned her. She crouched in the street covered from head to foot in a burqa with her little children begging beside her. She was dirty, her worn hands were all that was visible, she was 23.

Ten years later, the good war is still a Greek tragedy, but it didn’t have to end this way.

We have sent so many of our soldiers to die and we are now leaving, but first our President has decided to negotiate with the thugs of the Taliban. These are the very people who caused all the torment and misery to countless women and who trained their sons to be as brutal as they are. Joe Biden assures us many in the Taliban are good people and want peace. Why should we believe that?

A few case studies follow.

Three months ago, a woman named Estorai gave birth to a third girl. She told her family members that her husband was angry that she did not give birth to a boy and he was going to kill her. He had warned her when she was pregnant that she had better have a boy or he’d kill her. Boys have value whereas girls are considered nothing but a drain until they are married.

On Monday, Estorai was found strangled in her home by a neighbor. Her husband and his mother told police she hung herself but there was no sign of a rope or a hanging and she appeared to have been strangled according to medical examiners.

Estorai’s husband, Sher Mohammad, a local militiaman, fled Khanabad shortly after her body was found. The police chief said “The existence of militiamen is a huge problem and therefore we face difficulty in arresting him.”  It is likely Estorai’s husband is being sheltered by heavily-armed militia colleagues.

Supposedly this is an unusual case.

Estorai’s body showed signs of torture.

Our embassy statement was, “The rights of women cannot be relegated to the margins of international affairs, as this issue is at the core of our national security and the security of people everywhere.”

Afghan Woman Shopping

The rights of women in the cities are somewhat better in that they can be seen working in offices and going to school. In the rural areas, they walk around covered in Burqas and are held in very low regard.

In another case, a 15-year-old Afghan girl was tortured by in-laws who attempted to force her into prostitution.

Sahar Gul, a 15-year-old Afghan girl who was brutally tortured for months by her mother-in-law, will be sent to India for medical treatment, the Associated Press reported.

Gul, a child bride in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province, was locked in a basement and tortured by her in laws in an attempt to force her into prostitution, police said. She was starved, burned with hot irons, and her fingernails and clumps of hair were ripped out.

Police told the BBC that she also had chunks of flesh cut out with pliers.

Gul’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law are in custory and Gul is in India for treatment.

Read more here: Reuters and here: Associated Press

Please be forewarned that this video of Gul contains very disturbing images –

Then there is the case of Gulnaz who was sent to prison for the moral crime of being raped –

Gulnaz and her daughter

KABUL, Afghanistan — Her sad, haunted eyes have become famous around the world; few cases have caught the popular imagination like that of Gulnaz, a young Afghan woman imprisoned for “moral crimes” after she was raped by her cousin’s husband.

Gulnaz was released from prison on Dec. 14 by order of the president; she is now in an undisclosed location, in hiding from her own family.

Her sentence has been harsh, and may be a lifelong one: while she is now relatively safe, her life is now limited to a series of unpalatable choices.

She can agree to marry her rapist, or be forever on the run. According to several sources close to the case, her brothers have threatened to kill her baby daughter, the product of the rape.

Gulnaz served two of her twelve year sentence with the child of the rape. She loves her child who is being threatened with murder if she does not marry her rapist. She has said she will if one of her cousins marries his brother. That is the custom and it is what makes marriage affordable. Dowries can run in the tens of thousands. Read more: Global Post

Abuse and repression are still common for women in Afghanistan, although great strides had been made in the last 10 years since the ouster of the Taliban, the same people Obama is now negotiating with. Joe Biden assures us they are the good Taliban.

According to the British charity Oxfam, 87 percent of Afghan women have reported experiencing physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage. In the second quarter of 2011, 1,026 cases of violence against women were logged by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. In 2010, a total of 2,700 cases were logged, the AFP reported.

In 2014, NATO is going to pull out. Will the sacrifice of our military be only to transfer significant power back to the Taliban?