The U.S. Military moved into remote areas of Afghanistan to be a comfort to the people, to keep them free from the Taliban and to gain their trust, their hearts and minds. Female Marines wore headscarves to show Afghan women their respect while they tried to teach them how to create small businesses (bazaars and such) to help support their families. After last weekend’s rogue soldier killing 16 in the village only steps away from the NATO/Afghan outpost, Kharzai is demanding that NATO troops move back to larger bases, away from villages. Today, the Taliban has “suspended” “peace talks” with the U.S. – a very good thing for Afghan women if it were to continue, but with the full backing of Barack Obama for a co-existance with Taliban, it won’t last long. The recent Ulema Council statement that Afghan women are “secondary” to men, who are “fundamental” women are concerned, was a “reminder” of the proper way a woman should and will behave, or else. MP Fawzia Koofi says this is the beginning of a “Taliban Dark Period” and “a process of Talibanisation,” and says great progress has been made for women in the last 10 years (the time period that the U.S. has had presence there). President Hamid Karzai published the Council’s statement on his website, saying it was intended to protect women.
Campaigners believe the timing of the statement is no co-incidence. They say it is part of the president’s outreach to the Taliban.
In the push to do a peace deal with the insurgents, they fear the Afghan leader may be willing to sacrifice women’s rights.
“It does look like President Karzai is trying to placate the Taliban as part of the negotiations,” said Heather Barr, of Human Rights Watch.
“It looks like they are trying to show the Taliban there is no huge cultural gap between them.”
Women could be the big losers in any deal with the insurgents, according to Fawzia Koofi. She warns that the progress made in recent years – at huge cost to the international community – could soon be rolled back.
“We have struggled for 10 years,” she said. “We have gained so much. This is the beginning of compromising some of those gains that cost us and the international community blood and treasure.”…
The council’s statement is the beginning of “a process of Talibanisation” according to Fawzia Koofi.
“They have started taking some of those basic rights,” she said, “like working together, living together, going out like a free human being. I am worried for my daughters and for all the girls and women of Afghanistan.”
The MP believes the president, and the clerics, may be testing the water with this statement – waiting to see if there is a domestic or international backlash.
She warns that if there is no resistance, there may be worse to come. Source: BBC
Hamid Karzai’s statement said Ulema’s proclamation protects Afghan women:
The council statement renounces the equality of men and women enshrined in the Afghan Constitution and insists instead that “men are fundamental and women are secondary.”
The clerics also supported men’s right to commit violence against women in cases where there is a “Shari’a-compliant reason.”
But other sections of the document defend women’s rights, notably speaking out against forced marriages and the practice of exchanging women as a kind of currency to settle family and tribal disputes.
Overall, however, the statement calls for restrictions that are reminiscent of the Taliban era.
Afghan rights activists have condemned the statement and said they fear the Afghan government is giving in to the Taliban as Kabul tries to reach a peace settlement aimed at ending its decade-long battle with the insurgents.
Under the Taliban, women were barred from receiving an education and working outside the home and could only venture outside if they were wearing a burqa and were accompanied by a male relative.
Ahmad Zia Langari, a commissioner at Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, claimed the council’s statement is an injustice that tramples on the dignity of all Afghan women.
“In no Islamic country do we see that women are totally separated from men and cannot work in the same workplace,” she said. “Even in Saudi Arabia these kinds of limitations don’t exist. Logically, if we suppress women this much — controlling their movement, conversations, and relations with others — then we are actually damaging women’s dignity as human beings.” …
In Germany, Heiner Geissler, a senior politician from the ruling Christian Democratic Union party, warned that Afghan women will suffer when foreign forces withdraw. Geissler said foreign forces should remain in Afghanistan until Afghan police and soldiers are fully prepared to assume responsibility for protecting the rights of all Afghans.
The independent newspaper “Cheragh” said on March 6 that the Ulema Council’s statement was “a reminder of dark pages in the history of Afghanistan when terrorists misused the tools of high Islamic education.”
The “Daily Afghanistan” newspaper wrote that the many promises made to women about equal rights seem to have been forgotten and that Afghanistan’s women seem doomed to become “second-class citizens” as they were under the Taliban. Source: Eurasianet