Photo: Nadia's husband, to avenge a dispute he had with her father, cut off her nose and ear while she was sleeping. She has undergone six operations and needs more. "I don't know anything about happiness," 17-year-old Nadia said. (Photo: Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)
WHAT WAR BRINGS: deterioration of women’s rights
One of the many proposed reasons for going into
Today, the situation in
Women who end up refugees from conflict face a host of problems. Education is lacking, poverty is rampant, and security is poor. The families are under extreme stress, and this results in more domestic violence. Refugee International reported on the situation for Iraqi women who are refugees this past July.
Iraqi women who have been uprooted by violence in their country are increasingly susceptible to exploitation and abuse because of extreme financial pressures, a new field report from Refugees International (RI) described today. The report states that domestic violence among Iraqi refugees is increasing in
The government of
In March of 2009, the UN called for more action on women’s rights in
Women comprise 17 per cent of the country’s labour force, compared to 81 percent of men, with the low participation rate of women partially attributed to illiteracy. Nearly one-quarter of women and girls – many of whom were afraid to attend school due to the violence – above the age of 10 are illiterate, compared with just 11 per cent of boys.
The UN also expressed concern over women’s health indicators, with maternal mortality rates reaching 84 per 100,000 live births compared to 41 and 65 in neighbouring
It is clear that women’s rights, along with education of girls, have deteriorated significantly since 2003. The Iraqi constitution, under the Saddam regime, referred to Iraqis as “citizens” and there was no distinction made between women and men in the rights granted by that constitution. Violence against women has risen significantly since 2003, due to the war and occupation. The next report is from 2005, well before the violence really got out of hand.
Prior to the arrival of
…. Immediately after the invasion, the
That article has an interesting review of Karen Hughes, the Undersecretary of State in the Bush administration. She is not portrayed positively! They see the entire war and occupation as a bringer of misery and injustice, and having nothing to do with freedom or democracy.
A report by the San Francisco Chronicle in May 2009 lists some of the more recent examples of the set-back for women’s rights in
……….. Women do sit in the parliament, but they wield little influence. Meantime, Nawal al-Samarraie,
In December 2008, a women’s rights activist who lived in
Before the US/NATO invasion in 2001, women in
The rape of women and children remains widespread though its true extent is concealed by underreporting. Most perpetrators continue to go unpunished.... Female victims of violence continue to have limited access to justice and effective redress mechanisms. Customary justice systems are only accessed by women accompanied by a male relative.... Threats and intimidation against women in public life or who work outside the home have seen a dramatic increase....
Hamid Karzai has been accused of trying to win votes in
…. Women’s rights are facing setbacks. Perhaps the best known of them, in Afghanistan, was President Hamid Karzai's recent decision to sign a law requiring Shiite women to put on fancy clothes and makeup if their husbands request it - and then to have sex whenever their husband demands it. Karzai, relatively unpopular now, did this at the behest of Shiite clergy whose support he needs in the elections this summer.
Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review. The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work. "It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to a girl who was injured when he raped her," the
This law was passed to assist Karzai in the August elections – he gained support from the fundamentalists. I have not heard anything about the law being repealed. Cultural customs around marriage are also very abusive to young girls.
A staggering 60% of women are still forced into marriage as children - often as young as nine or ten. That has not changed since the West intervened, despite Afghan law stating that girls under 16 should not be married. In practice, the government and families ignore the law. In the city of
The article above also reports on the Afghan women who attempt suicide by setting themselves on fire. Only a few survive.
Human rights groups are calling on the Afghan government to adopt a new law which would more clearly differentiate rape, a criminal offence, from consensual adultery, considered a serious crime in the country. Rape and adultery are two different issues and should be separate in law. Rape is an act of violence and coercion and the inflicting of suffering on a victim, and is not consensual, whereas adultery is consensual, freely chosen," Sonya Merkova, a researcher at London-based Amnesty International, told IRIN.
….. "Women in
Judicial officials and the Afghan police are not convinced that rape is a serious crime, and they often see rape as sexual intercourse outside of marriage….. and that rape cannot occur inside of marriage.
There is one Afghan politician who is working for women’s health, wellbeing and rights. That is Malalai Joya. She returned to
She came to the world’s attention in 2003 when, at a constitutional convention attended by
So, has the presence of US/NATO troops in
There are some people who care about women’s rights in
People who are living in
The women of RAWA have held my highest respect ever since I first heard of them, back in the 1990’s while the Taliban still ruled in
The overall conclusion to be drawn here is that women’s rights deteriorate in war situation, or in a situation of foreign occupation by military troops. Sonali Kolhatkar said this recently: “Waging war does not lead to the liberation of women anywhere. Women always disproportionately suffer the effects of war, and to think that women's rights can be won with bullets and bloodshed is a position dangerous in its naïveté.”
The US military and NATO troops have removed the Taliban (who are making a comeback, but that’s another story) and installed warlords who are as anti-women and as anti-human rights as the Taliban were. Corruption is rampant, and the misogynistic society is still firmly in place. There has been some gains in education for girls – see my prior post on that topic – but those gains are fragile and piecemeal across
In our conversations arguing this point, we are told that the
If you support the continued occupation of
McChrystal’s measure of success in