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Let's not abandon the women of Afghanistan

by Sarmad Mayo 2 months ago in politics

The Taliban's Rule

Let's not abandon the women of Afghanistan
Photo by Edrece Stansberry on Unsplash

The weapons, the black and white flag and the hatred of the Taliban militia are once again at the forefront of Afghanistan and the fate of its 32 million people. This is a tour of the initiatives and positions of women in our country so as not to abandon those who will bear the worst of it with the extreme application of Islamic law: Afghan women and girls. According to some testimonies, the repression against the activists, the inability to work or the conversion into sex slaves –forcibly married– have already begun. The burqas have returned to Kabul while in Barcelona a woman demonstrates by burning hers in front of the local United Nations headquarters.

Cry out in the wilderness

"We have been crying out in the desert, that something be done to avoid what has already come." The speaker is RTVE journalist Pilar Requena, author of the book Afganistán (Síntesis, 2011), and who together with her colleague Paloma García Ovejero accompanies the presentation of the initiative "Open the doors to Afghanistan and women Afghans", promoted by a group of Spanish journalists and that has had transnational diffusion. Requena and García Ovejero are part of the Association of Women who Count the World (ACM), made up of communication professionals linked to international information.

Pilar Requena is the current director of Documentos TV on public television and knows the Afghan terrain well. A country today once again in the hands of the Taliban power, which already ruled between 1996 and 2001, applying Sharia - or Islamic law - in its most violent form, between stoning, whipping and executions, and condemning women and girls to death. loss of all rights, including to go to school. Throughout this August, the news bulletins have been reeling off the events in a region that represents a huge failure for the so-called international community, after twenty years of direct military intervention. In February 2020, the United States agreed with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on their withdrawal and that of their allies, thereby giving them an identity card as international actors. And now we have seen crowds crowded trying to access Kabul airport, the country's capital, and people clinging to foreign planes. We have read professional women and activists pleading for a way out. In an attempt to appear "moderate" on camera, we see weapons, military vehicles, veils and burqas. The return of the word “Taliban” to the present refers to terror due to the cruelest reality of the violent power of men against women.

The Collapse of Afghanistan, a decline of the West

"It is true that we will evacuate as many as we can, but they are a tiny part," the reporter continues. "What we left behind is a whole people, Afghan men and women, who believed in us." He explains how that population has had to put up with power many warlords - "war criminals", he adds, "who have been imposed by the international community during these twenty years" -. In these hard days, “what I remember is all those Afghan women, girls and adolescents who have trusted, who took off their burka, who took off their terror, who believed in a better future, who went to schools, to universities, who have worked, who have collaborated, and who now have to hide, flee, or in the worst case they will end up being sex slaves of these combatants ”. Requena is forceful with the fundamentalists' attempts to pretend a certain restraint in front of the cameras: “the Taliban are no better than those of the 1990s. They are even worse, and more violent. Then there were no sex slaves, now they are already applying that practice that they learned from the self-styled Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. "

For Requena, the Doha Agreement “has been a fundamental error by the United States, it has made them grow and is sending a message to terrorists and radical Islamists around the world that they can win, because in the end the international community fails, it leaves. ”. "The collapse of Afghanistan is the decline of the West, of the human rights values ​​in which we have believed," he sentenced from the need to make self-criticism also in Europe. “When the media focus is withdrawn from Afghanistan, we will have to continue, especially women. If Afghanistan now goes into darkness, Afghans go into terror ”.

Open the doors to Afghanistan

A few minutes before the reporter and researcher, before the same buses and under the same allegories of the "Roman civilization", the "Christian civilization" and the "Arab civilization", represented by women painted on the walls of the Ateneo de Madrid, the promoters of the initiative "Open the doors to Afghanistan and women Afghans" attend the media. These are the journalists Soledad Gallego-Díaz - the first woman to have been the director of El País - and the president of the Efe Agency, Gabriela Cañas; the also journalist and writer Rosa Montero and the president of the Clásicas y Modernas association , Fátima Anllo. The letter sent by them and by Maruja Torres –Journalist and writer–, “Open the doors to Afghanistan and the Afghans”, has the support of more than 120,000 signatures, collected in just one week.

Presentation at the Madrid Athenaeum of the initiative "Open the doors to Afghanistan and women Afghans", which has collected more than 120,000 signatures of support (AB)

Presentation at the Madrid Athenaeum of the initiative "Open the doors to Afghanistan and women Afghans", which has collected more than 120,000 signatures of support (AB)

The letter is articulated in three points, as an urgent appeal to the international community: the demand to keep the borders open for all those who wish to leave Afghanistan, the admission to repatriation operations of "the largest possible number of Afghans and especially Afghans in imminent danger ”, whether or not they have been collaborators with foreign missions, and thirdly, that“ preferential attention is paid to women in special risk situations ”for any reason. This requirement entails the symmetrical commitment necessary for the reception of refugees. The text has been presented at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Madrid, as the promoters have communicated, and it will also be sent to the representative in Spain of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Acnur), José Manuel Albares.

For Gallego-Díaz, the broad response obtained shows how this short text has captured a great feeling that was among women. Among the firms there are many from Latin America, among writers, artists, or liberal professionals –he explained–, and also a bank, cleaning, administrative, retired, sports, or technical employees. Therefore, this concern extends to the whole of society and particularly to women of all kinds, he added.

Minimum guarantees

Among those signatories are renowned writers such as Svetlana Aleksievich, Nobel Prize in Literature; Elena Poniatowska, Cervantes Prize, or Siri Hustvedt, Princess of Asturias Prize; the former magistrate of the constitutional court, Elisa Pérez Vera; Austrian MEP Evelyn Regner, chair of the Women's Rights Committee; Chilean Senator Isabel Allende; the Spanish scientist María Blasco, director of the CNIO; the delegate of the Government against Gender Violence, Vicky Rosell or the philosopher Amelia Valcárcel.

"One thing is to speak and another is to recognize the Taliban regime," they have explained, if it does not include within its guarantees three essential minimum issues: the right of women to education and standardized health and the right to work. In this sense, they have valued the statements of the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, who three days earlier stated in his visit to the Torrejón base that "the 1,000 million euros of the budget we have for humanitarian aid is conditioned on respect for human rights." "You cannot give a single euro of humanitarian aid to those who do not guarantee women's rights," emphasized the high European representative. "Let us not give up on the pressure", the Spanish journalists insist, in what is the "catastrophe" of a "genocidal regime with women", as Rosa Montero has described it. The initiative remains open to new firms, through the website abrirafganistan.com . His intention is to ensure that this issue "does not run out in two weeks" on the public agenda, as the problem will continue for a long time.

"The whole world knew it"

There have been several statements released in these weeks from the women's movement, both in our country and in the European environment. Thus, the letter addressed by the Feminist Policy Forum to the Prime Minister has collected more than 16,000 signatures. In it they recall the international commitments of our country in the matter of women's human rights and request the prosecution of the crimes that the Taliban inflict on them in Afghanistan, in accordance with the principles of Universal Justice; asylum and refugee measures for them in the European Union; as well as measures to boycott those responsible. For its part, the European Network of Migrant Women issued a Declaration in which they ensure that women and girls will pay the highest price for this humanitarian disaster. “The whole world knew it, when in May 2020, a maternity hospital was attacked in Afghanistan, leaving 16 dead mothers. The whole world knew it when, in May 2021, a school was bombed, killing 90 girls and injuring many more, ”they write, wondering why the world watched in silence. They coincide in seeing the words of false moderation of the fundamentalists as a trap. "If it is not recognized that misogyny is an essential component of extremist ideologies and movements, it will never be possible to stop them," they state in their writing, in which they recall that more than 3.5 million girls were currently enrolled in school. Afghanistan,

Also the Feminist Party of Spain issued on August 15 its position on this crisis, condemning both the withdrawal of US troops and the withdrawal of military personnel by the Spanish Government. What Western governments hide, they add, is that this "endless war" unleashed more than forty years ago was fueled and financed by the US State Department, intended to undermine the Soviet Union, "in compliance with the principle that the main enemy to beat is communism ”. The Afghan socialist regime, they recall from the PFE, initiated a reform program that included compulsory education for boys and girls. On the contrary, “when the Taliban ruled, they applied one of the strictest interpretations of Sharia law, which is characterized by taking away all human rights from women,

A burqa burns in Barcelona

If the response to some statements has been very broad, it has not been the case for the calls in the street, with a few hundred protesters in our main capitals. After the entry of the Taliban into Kabul and the fall of the government of President Ashraf Ghani on August 15, one of the first reactions of the feminist movement was that of the collective Catab (Catalunya Abolitionista Plataforma Feminista), which two days later brought together some two hundred women in their protest in front of the UN headquarters in Barcelona. The image of that day was shocking, with several Afghan immigrant women joining the concentration setting fire to the burqa, the symbol of the oppression of women. “Neither the veil nor the burqa are clothing or culture. They are feminicidal weapons ”, it is read in the posters of the feminists. One of the members of Catab, the lawyer Núria González, explains that, according to these Afghan women, there are only about ten families that make up the immigrant community of this country in the metropolitan area. González is very critical of some institutions: "from Cab we find the position of the official spheres of the Generalitat and the Colau town hall very hypocritical, which have spent their lives defending that" the veil empowers. " Now they try to show that they are for the rights of Afghan women when they are still here promoting the burqa and the veil as cultural elements, ”he explains.

Thetrine, which is precisely what happens in this Asian country, is somewhat larger than Spain. Only 22% of its inhabitants live in urban areas, and the vast majority do not have access to minimal health services. Armenian warns about the possibility of the partition of the country, with the excuse of its multiethnic reality. The idea would be "to convert large strategic countries into mini-states controllable by the powers."

Nazanín Armenian recalls, among many other data, that the Afghan monarchy in 1921 already abolished child marriage. The old images of the 60s and 70s show a society that is modernizing even with a feminist movement, always secular, in which the role of the nurse Anahita Ratebzad stands out. and the Afghan Women's Democratic Organization. In 1965 Ratebzad is one of the four deputies in the Afghan parliament, and in 1981 she is Minister of Social Affairs. During the years of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1978-1992), the socialist regime established after the Saur Revolution, the nuptial age went from 8 to 16 years. The influence of the neighboring Soviet Union had a great impact on these processes, which contrast with the persistence of brutal practices with women in rural areas. “That they don't tell us about Islamic feminists,” he says, “is a way of tinting fundamentalism pink. Feminism is never religious, because no religion believes in equality between men and women ”.

On the words of the current "moderate" Taliban, Armanian explains how they were exactly the same unfulfilled promises given by Khomeini to the Iranians in 1978. It is the same year in which the United States intervenes for the first time in Afghanistan, using the extreme right when organizing jihadist groups: it is not 2001, but 1978, in the context of the Cold War, as this political scientist recalls and as Hillary Clinton herself, former Secretary of State of the United States, recognized in a famous 2010 interview for Fox News.

Starting with the triumph of the Islamists in the 1990s, the author describes a regime of “gender apartheid” against women, from the extension of the veil to the loss of all personal freedom. The cultivation of the poppy to obtain opium will finance the interventions, with a great impact on the population. In the next stage, the 20 years of the “NATO Government” –this is what he calls it–, only 17% of literates have been achieved, the real-life expectancy is at 44 years and corruption is rampant, according to your exposure. Now, while some groups organize the resistance, Armenian reminds us how war is a good business while contemplating two possible scenarios: a next civil war or a new intervention. Despite everything, the Iranian expert does not give up: "If geopolitics and the capitalist elites of the world have destroyed the lives of Afghans - more women - this is not over." "Let's organize ourselves to build a world where social conquests are not reversible," he concludes while showing the photograph of a girl who smiles under the phrase: "We will beat them!"

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Sarmad Mayo

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