Monday, June 18, 2012

"Hidden under the blue scarf, her eyes are black with hot shouting"

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images
Revisiting the Afghan Women's Writing Project as part of my research into the real state of affairs in that NATO infested country, I found this gem posted December 6, 2011 by an anonymous member of the Kabul Writing Collective:

Violence Against Women Feels Like…

Violence burns like a piece of wood in the wood stove
Hidden under the blue scarf, her eyes are black with hot shouting
Sounds like there has been a lot of "progress" for women doesn't it?

Here's another author, writing in January, 2010 I Am For Sale, Who Will Buy Me? about her struggle to escape a forced marriage: "Running away is not an option because girls who run away here are raped by men and spend years in jail, and I am not such a girl."

Overblown claim? Not according to MADRE's December, 2011 blog post "US No Help to Afghan Rape Survivors."

And a recent Al Jazeera article on photographers in Afghanistan included the shadowy portrait of just such an unfortunate woman -- raped, and then jailed for adultery. (All under NATO's "protection" of course.)
Farzana Wahidy published this photo which Al Jazeera ran with the caption "An Afghan woman in Parwan prison, convicted of adultery. Wishing to remain anonymous, she says she was raped by a man in her neighborhood, and gave birth to her child in prison."
In a related article, "Q&A: Al Jazeera meets photojournalist Reza", author D. Parvaz wrote:  
After witnessing inequality, veteran photojournalist Reza started Aina, a media training NGO to empower Afghan women...
Parvaz: What is the future for women in Afghanistan? 
Reza: It will be very tough. They were given false signals by the coalition forces that they would get freedom - same for Afghan men, but women suffered more.   

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

A footnote to my Grace Metalious story. Comparing the sexual violence by males in her first book, the good one, Peyton Place, including that by the main male hero, with the way she put herself in evil male hands after she hit paydirt with the book, means she was, as the Vanity Fair (male) writer put it, rather an "accidental feminist".
When you take over a country, you become the government. If you don't want to be the government, you have to leave the country.
Look at Al Jazeera's photos of Egyptian generals from their news conference where they dictated today when and how they'll give power to civilians. Naturally, they disagree with each other. AJ is only formalizing, making official, with this report what the people already know, both that the Army generals run things and that they know their time is up, only some of them are a little carried away with their gold leaf on their uniforms. I think that explains the underwhelming response from the Muslim Brotherhood to the coup last week where the generals dissolved the Parliament. The Parliament's only job is to create a constitution (to replace the one the generals' court said made the Parliament illegitimate) via a 100-member conference, which is continuing work (unless it gets into difficulties, said the generals today). The generals issued a few constitutional amendments also.
You have to laugh.
The question for Afghanistan is how long the US will seek to keep the political system paralyzed. Until it frees itself, it cannot reform the unwritten constitution, the actual way of doing business. It might even turn out that women's treatment went downhill because of the invasions over the last thirty-some years, or that it didn't at all, and was never very bad. The means of knowing this stuff is part of the political process. Invaders never want the people to know what is going on. The invaders want to "rule"--set the standards, make the measurements, point the direction ahead.
The US tried to paralyze Iraq into the distant future while we governed there. A Kurd employed by the US Army for ten years told me it was the US goal in 2004: "a weakened state". He didn't approve.
Egypt may be the best case to follow to see how long European imperial/colonial domination lingers in this global political climate. As a guy told me in Africa thirty five years ago, the "West" is exhausted.
What about "Western legal values" like civil rights? If these don't spring eternal out of the human breast, to paraphrase Sandra Day O'Connor, they don't come from anywhere. Words on a page don't create them. The way people treat each other--the unwritten constitution--may be described in various ways in different times and places, but the central test is whether people feel heard.