Monday, July 16

Who says?

Texts offer only slightly more guidance than the waiting pen and blank sheet of paper. Interpretation can vary with the individual. Any woman and man can read the same religious text and walk away with conflicting points of view. Eva Sajoo of Simon Fraser University writes about women's struggle to interpret texts: 

"Labeling women who dare to speak up as followers of 'foreign' ideas is a favorite tactic of violent misogynists not limited to the Taliban). Calling them 'un-Islamic' is another. Religion is often used to dignify agendas that have more to do with intimidation than scripture....  This is as true of Islam as of Christianity.

"Leaving the authority of religion entirely in the hands of thugs will ensure that it continues to be a barrier to women’s rights. Enlisting the support of religious figures and principles may in fact be the reformer’s best weapon."

Fear of Beauty warns of adherents who must use their religion to intimidate and control. Insecure, full of doubt that their principles and values alone can attract a following, they must bully free thinkers into submission.  

Photo courtesy of New York Public Library from Esquisses Sénégalaises; physionomie du pays, peuplades, commerce, religions, passé et avenir, récits et legendes,1853, and Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, July 9


Many in the United States are torn about how to handle instability and everyday cruelties in Afghanistan. Should Nato forces exit and allow Afghans to handle Afghanistan, or should they stay and fight?  
"A video apparently showing the Taliban executing an Afghan woman accused of adultery has sparked international outrage," reports Sharon Behn for Voice of America. "The killing highlights ongoing fears of what will happen to women’s rights in Afghanistan once international forces leave." In the same article, Afghan women's rights activist Wazma Frogh is quoted, questioning why police or security forces were not available after the United States, other nations and so many donors have invested millions in Afghan security.

About 20 percent of the Taliban are hardliners, according to British intelligence officials estimates, reports Reuters. In early February, the Pentagon estimated that the Afghan Taliban had about 25,000 fighters, as reported by Spencer Ackerman for Wired.

It's a tough call for the women of Afghanistan. More fighting and war, or allowing for some Taliban control of the nation?

The US envisions a new silk road for Asia, featuring a stable Afghanistan, supported by neighboring states.  Literacy, stability, women's rights, economic projects are essential, and such developments won't happen overnight. Afghanis must decide if this is a plan they can embrace. If so, they must speak up and stand up to extremists - and can't wait for security forces to intercede. 


Friday, July 6


A Globe & Mail editorial on "Buying Progress in Afghanistan" included the sentiments of Human Rights Watch: 

“Donors should make it clear that continued progress on women’s rights is linked to continued international support,” notes Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The decisions that donors make today will have huge implications for the lives of ordinary Afghans in the years ahead.”