Women in Peril

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Of course, it should be noted that these incremental steps of progress can’t paper over the fact that life for most Afghan women is still a Hobbesian existence. According to the US State Department, Afghanistan is a major source, transit, and destination country for the forced labor and sex trafficking of women and children.

Most of those trafficked were girls under age 18, with about 29 percent having been forced into marriage after being “raped, kidnapped, harassed or exposed to violence.”

Not unexpectedly, the result of these and other abuses has made the life expectancy of Afghan women just 44 years, with a recent UN report also finding 31 percent of them suffering physical violence and another 30 percent suffering from psychological trauma.

The advancement in human rights, respect and education for Afghan women and girls may be only marginal, but the gains are nonetheless threatened by negotiations with the Taliban.

Still, some have said that the entire High Peace Council gender debate is much ado about nothing, as talks with the Taliban to discuss a framework of reconciliation have reportedly gone nowhere. In fact, the Taliban has adamantly denied that any peace talks have ever occurred. As Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid recently said, “There is no negotiation…we deny any report about such kind of peace talks.”

While some Taliban have joined the Afghan government, and some lower and mid-level fighters have reintegrated into their communities, its 30,000 insurgents still seem fiercely intent on continuing the insurgency and relinquishing their lost power.

To prove that point, violence in Afghanistan has exploded to record levels, as insurgents have been markedly increasing their attacks on US coalition forces, as well as stepping up suicide strikes, bombings and intimidation against Afghan officials and civilians. According to a July report by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, there has been a 119 percent rise in insurgency attacks, as well as a 106 percent rise in civilian casualties over the past year.

Recent examples of the Taliban assault on the Afghan civilian population include the hanging of an 8-year-old boy from a balcony after his father, an Afghan policeman, refused to comply with their demands to provide them with a police vehicle; the beheading of four men who were working to remove land mines from western Afghanistan; and the forcing of an 8-year-old girl to detonate herself at an Afghan police checkpoint.

Moreover, the Taliban has assassinated six high-profile Afghan government figures in the last month, including President Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, and Jan Mohammad Khan, the former governor of southern Urozgan. The most recent victim was the mayor of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city, who was killed by a suicide bomber hiding an explosive device in his turban.

So, despite the investment of men, time, and money in developing an effective Afghan National Army (ANA) and police force to save the existing regime from sliding back into Taliban control, all signs seem to point to an eventual Taliban triumph.

That dismal prospect is why some have pinned their hopes on reaching some accommodations with the Taliban. As Najia Zewari, a female High Peace Council member, said, “We want the Taliban to know that they respect our rights.”

Yet, that prospect seems unlikely to ever come to fruition. Human Rights Watch Washington director Tom Malinowski has said it’s “hard to imagine that the Taliban are going to stop believing or acting as they do.”

If that’s indeed the case, it certainly hasn’t stirred concern in Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose feelings toward the Taliban were perhaps best expressed in 2009 when he said, “We call on our Taliban brothers to come home and embrace their land.” If that event does transpire, for the women and girls of Afghanistan, it promises to be a deadly homecoming.

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  • PhillipGaley

    After the second paragraph: "This seemed like a genuine possibility at first, . . ."? My gosh, did our author at any time subscribe such an impossible and outlandish notion, it must have been a moment of temporary insanity, . . .

    • Fred Dawes

      The part of the world has no hope.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Well well, back to Taliban hell, Karzai wants to embrace his Taliban brothers and
    the Afganistani women will be going back to hell. Does this sound like anyone is
    affraid of American backlash, American power pressure in any form or do we come
    off as some kind of desert pestilence that will slither away. These people understand
    power and force, nothing else and even then they are intent on finding death in
    acts of murder. The Karzai government should have more fear of and irate
    American government and people than fear of the Taliban but maybe they know
    something, maybe there is a Taliban guy in Washington who be well pleased by
    the unthinkable and Americans will wonder what happened to the destruction of
    the Taliban which is al Quida with another name……..has America dropped off of
    the world map, have our dead been just yesterdays news and ho hum. If this
    situation ends up so ugly we should send all of our politicians to live in Afghanistan
    in death rags, ending their lives screaming alley oop………………….William

  • StephenD

    More proof that a better approach would be to announce to the world that we will stand with Western Style Democracies that share our values of personal freedoms and individual responsibility; that we will only provide material or financial support for such friends and NO OTHER type society. When other such societies see our friends prosper and they find themselves living under a Totalitarian regime either they'll come our way or not. No matter, we will at least have not wasted any of our resources.

  • Stephen_Brady

    William stated it correctly, above, in my estimation.

    As America drops out of its global responsibilities, the inevitable power vacuum occurs. Just as nature abhors a vaccum, so does international politics. There will always be someone willing to fill a vacuum. What is happening in Afghanistan is a microcosm of the gloabl power macrocosm which will be delivered to the West by its enemies, in coming years.

    God bless and protect those women in Afghanistan who believed that we were there, for the long haul …

  • DrBukk

    Is there a Nobel Pandora Prize? Can Nobel Peace Prizes be rescinded? GWB deserved the prize for bringing constitutional rights to 26 million women in Iraq and Afghanistan and our Muslim buffoon in the WH wants to give that away just like Carter gave away Iran.

  • svendarbuckle

    God bless these women and children. They are in for a very rough ride and the poor ladies working for their rights are in grave danger.

    • Fred Dawes

      No danger all will come here and start it all over in 40 years here inside the former USA, If you can't see jsut go to sleep and be happy.

  • Fred Dawes

    It is the muslim Cultural ideals. let the muslims kill all the woman that way in 50 years we have no more muslims.

  • Stuart Parsons

    The Taliban, like Muhammad, will find reasons to go back on any agreement they sign up to and they will convince themselves it is what the mythical Allah and his Prophet want.

  • Damien

    Frank Crimi,

    Women are really treated bad throughout the Islamic world. Women are little more than slaves to their husbands and male relatives, who can't even show their faces in public. Not to mention their inhuman, four male witnesses to prove a rape rule, where women who are raped, can be put to death for adultery otherwise.

  • waterwillows

    Taliban or not, life is hell on earth for the Afghan women. But is was not always this bad for them. Their grandmothers and great-grandmothers would not recoginise the lives of their decendants. In the 1950's things were much different for women.
    But this is what happens when a country or a people open the door for evil to walk in. Woe to them who call evil a good thing. Once that standard is accepted, it is a rapid decent into the deepest, darkest part of the pit. Now, it is all an abomination and there is much suffering.

  • http://baersart.com Jane

    I grieve for my sister-mothers

  • waterwillows

    I also, deeply grieve for these women. Who could witness their suffering and not be moved? It is simply beyond the pale what they must endure.
    It give me a real insight to the state of women in Sodom and Gomorrah. Only destruction can come, as the injustice and horror literally screams to the Most High Throne.

  • John S

    Where are the groups such as NOW, Code Pink, etc? Don't these people count as actual human beings or could it be that our lefties are racist and maybe don't care about the poor women who live in the hell that is the Middle East?

    • WilliamJamesWard

      It may not be a legitimate question for these groups as they are simply self
      glorifying frauds and their interests seem to be confined to getting in front of
      a media camera and attention, giving the word stupid great meaning………William