As we wind down operations in Afghanistan the question is, “did we make any difference?” Sure, Osama bin Laden is dead — then again so is Saddam Hussein and his sons Uday and Qusay, but al-Qaida is in control of western Iraq’s al-Anbar province. During my time in Iraq and Afghanistan, I remember the most difficult thing for many of us to stomach was the treatment of women.
The most rewarding sight for me during my two-and-a-half years in Afghanistan was watching little girls in their uniforms walking off to school. Nothing infuriated me more than reading reports about a Taliban attack against a girls’ school — funny thing, you never heard about that in any liberal media reports. How many front pages were dedicated to Abu Gharaib by the New York Times? And these liberals want us to take them seriously when they start droning on about a damn “war on women?” I have seen it with my own eyes, and it is repulsive.
So as we prepare to depart Afghanistan, and President Obama is more concerned with campaign promises and politics, I must ask, what will happen to the women of Afghanistan?
According to a report in The Guardian, a new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called “honor” killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse.
This is in a nation already considering the return of stoning as a punishment for adultery. Perhaps Sandra Fluke and Nancy Pelosi should visit Afghanistan to understand what a real struggle for women’s rights is — nah, that would require courage. It is an Afghan war on women.
According to The Guardian, The small but significant change to Afghanistan’s criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law – passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai – will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering.
The traditions of Muhammad established the level of judicial subservience facing women in Islamic countries, where they can be summarily divorced after their husband repeats “I divorce you” three times, and they have no rights in defense.
Furthermore, it takes three men to offer defense for one woman, as her voice alone means nothing. Barbaric? Absolutely, but hardly mentioned in our news.
As the Guardian reports, under the new law, prosecutors could never come to court with cases like that of Sahar Gul, a child bride whose in-laws chained her in a basement and starved, burned and whipped her when she refused to work as a prostitute for them. Women like 31-year-old Sitara, whose nose and lips were sliced off by her husband at the end of last year, could never take the stand against their attackers.
Countries that spent billions trying to improve justice and human rights are now focused largely on security, and are retreating from Afghan politics. Heather Barr, Afghanistan researcher with Human Rights Watch, said: “Opponents of women’s rights have been emboldened in the last year. They can see an opportunity right now to begin reversing women’s rights – no need to wait for 2015.”
What will become of the female Members of the Afghanistan parliament? Those who are serving in the Army and police corps who will now not even be protected from their own husbands? What does it say about our values? So what, we killed Osama bin Laden, but we find ourselves afraid to take on a 7th century ideology that degrades women in the 21st century — shame on us.
President Obama, you and your party like to give lip service to women’s rights. Let’s see what you have to say about this issue after you and the First Lady sit with your daughters in that nice taxpayer-funded movie theater in the White House and watch “Honor Diaries.” I’ve watched it with my wife and daughters. It’s horrific. After you view it Sir, join me in the real war on women. I’ll be waiting for your phone call — quite sure you can get my number from the NSA.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. The featured image is courtesy of Davric.