But…All Cultures are EQUAL and We Have No Right to Impose OUR Values…
Somebody needs to.
I don’t think this has been reported ANYWHERE in the U.S. media. It’s apparently not as important as reporting each and every death of an American soldier who is – like it or not – fighting for the freedoms of Iraqi and Afghani women every bit as much as they are fighting to stop terrorism. Via Dodd of Ipse Dixit, under the heading of Why They Hate Us comes this bit of news from Norway:
The largest girls’ school in Kandahar, Northern Afghanistan, financed by Norwegian funds, was destroyed by fire on Thursday.
This is only one of several Norwegian-built girls’ schools which have been burned down in Afghanistan during the last six months, NRK reports.
In Kandahar, a group of men tied up the guard and set fire to the school, which had just been rebuilt, a city official reported.
-We look at the torching of these schools as an organized campaign aimed at preventing girls from receiving education, says Astrid Everine Sletten, head of the Afghanistan Committee’s office in the country.
He view is shared by other international organizations in Afghanistan
Afghan authorities, however, view the incidents as “random terror”.
-We disagree. Over the past year altogether 600 girls’ schools around the country have been wholly or partly destroyed by terrorists, while none of the boys’ schools have been touced, Sletten says.
A related story, from the Pakistani PakTribune:
KABUL: In the past month, three girls’ schools supported by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) have been attacked and completely or partially destroyed by unknown assailants.
On 19 February, at night, Jar-e-Shah Baba girls’ school in Keshem, Badakshan, was attacked and burnt to the ground. On 10 March Sangana school in Rokha, Kapisa province, was bombed and three classrooms were completely destroyed. In the latest attack on 17 March, Harmal Girls school in Laghman was targeted by armed men who tied up three guards and set fire to doors, windows, school books and official documents. No person was injured in the attacks.
“We are deeply concerned and angered by this recent wave of attacks on schools. The fact that such attacks are taking place in provinces in the north where there has traditionally been less resistance to girls’ education is also very worrying”, says Jesper Jensen, Country Director of SCA.
Reports by SCA’s education staff in the field give conflicting accounts of the reasons behind the attacks.
In the case of Jar-e-Shah Baba school in Keshem, where SCA supports almost 600 students in classes 1-6, armed men wearing black masks explicitly condemned education for females as they tied the two peons of the school and set fire to the building. Most reports indicate, however, that the attack was an expression of the on-going power struggle between a local commander and government authorities rather than actual resistance to girls’ education. To show their support, villagers have guaranteed the safety of staff and hired armed guards to protect the school at night. The school also has roughly 600 girls in secondary education, supported by the Norwegian Committee (NAC).
In the case of the bombed Sangana school in Panjshir, some witnesses claim there was a note indicating that the attack was directed against “female activities” carried out by HABITAT, who were using school premises for meetings related to NSP (National Solidarity Programme). Other sources insist that it is more likely the result of political infighting between different factions. In the most recent attack in Laghman, no specific threats were issued.
“Whatever the reasons are it is clear that girls’ schools are an easy target for anti-government forces. They are used as symbolic pawns in various power struggles, partly because they are high on the agenda of donors and the International aid community and are likely to draw attention, partly because education for girls has traditionally not been considered a priority in Afghanistan”, says Dr Attaullah, acting Education Coordinator for SCA.
SCA is committed to rebuilding the schools and has so far pledged approximately 1000,000 Afghani (19,000 Euro) to cover costs. Some other organisations have also offered their support. The school year started on 22 March and while repairs are being carried out many students are being taught outdoors.
“We condemn these attacks and urge authorities on a local and central level to secure the future of girls’ education in Afghanistan and to bring the culprits to justice”, says Jesper Jensen.
According to information from the Ministry of Education approximately 40 attacks on girls’ schools were reported in Afghanistan in 2003. Over the past years a number of SCA-supported schools have been targeted, mainly in the south-eastern provinces.
The SCA Education Programme has been in operation for almost twenty years and currently supports approximately 450 schools with 250,000 students and 6400 teachers in Afghanistan. Approximately 30% of students in SCA supported schools are girls.
I expect the National Organization for Women to issue a harshly worded criticism of this terrorism, to be printed page A-1 above the fold in the New York Times.
I did some research on the NOW website. Here’s a typical piece from 1999:
Women and girls are under attack:
The extremist Taliban government in Afghanistan is denying women and girls even the most basic human rights.
Prohibited from going to work or school and forbidden from leaving their homes without a male relative, women and girls in Afghanistan are under house arrest.
Women and girls are prevented from getting adequate health care since male doctors may not care for female patients.
You can help!
Demand that the U.S. take action to stop the abuse of women and girls in Afghanistan. Call upon the U.S. and the U.N. to continue to refuse to recognize the Taliban government!
I’d say our invasion of Afghanistan was “taking action” against the Taliban – a major step above merely “refusing to recognize” it, and a major plus in stopping the abuse of women and girls there. The fact that all those girl’s schools were built – by international groups – being just one indication. After the invasion of Afghanistan, NOW had this to say:
NO OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK: 11/19/2001
Moment of Tentative Joy Inside Afghanistan
Women’s Enews: Driving the Taliban out of Kabul and other Afghan cities has ended the fiats that prohibited women from working outside the home, attending school, leaving home without a male relative or showing their face in public.
While droves of men are rushing to the barber to cut their long, Taliban-mandated beards, some women have burned their veils in public and some are walking abroad in the daylight for the first time in years. Many women are still wary of being seen in public without their veils and, in cities, towns and areas where the harsh fundamentalist rule has been lifted, equal rights for women have by no means arrived.
That’s it. Two paragraphs. No mention of Bush, just a snarky comment that “equal rights for women have by no means arrived.” Apparently NOW was NOT happy. Their 2002 National NOW Conference Resolutions read thus:
WHEREAS, the advancement of the feminist agenda through electoral activity is of paramount importance in an election year when the executive branch is controlled by the radical right, the conservative Dennis Hastert serves as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Democrats retain control of the Senate by one vote; and
WHEREAS, the Bush administration has pushed its anti-woman reproductive rights agenda through a multi-pronged strategy of executive orders, congressional action, and the nomination of the right-wing judges to the federal bench; and
WHEREAS, if Republicans retain control of the House and take back the Senate we can expect more radical legislation eroding our rights in addition to the loss of the 5 to 4 majority preserving basic abortion rights in the Supreme Court; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW recommend to the NOW PACs that they support our incumbent friends who are being relentlessly targeted by the right wing and work to protect their seats even as they also work to elect the wonderful new feminist candidates challenging our political enemies throughout the country or running for open seats, as well as the record number of feminist candidates running for governor.
But wait! There’s more!
WHEREAS, the women and girls of Afghanistan have suffered from years of gender apartheid and oppression under the totalitarian regime of the Taliban and, before them, the Mujahideen; and
WHEREAS, the United States, in a CIA covert-operation, trained and funded the Mujahideen (“Soldiers of God”) to fight the Soviets in the last battle of the Cold War; and
WHEREAS, the Taliban was a faction of the Mujahideen that was initially supported by the United States; and
WHEREAS, the Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs and the Afghan-women-led non- governmental organizations (NGOs) desperately need funding to rebuild women’s lives and the Afghan nation; and
WHEREAS, the United States has a moral obligation to help restore Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, the United States has a global interest to end the conditions that breed terrorism; and
WHEREAS, U.S. foreign policy must support human and women’s rights as well as democracy;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States should support an expansion in the number and the jurisdiction of international peacekeeping forces throughout Afghanistan; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States should increase its funding for women-led Afghan NGOs; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the United States should actively promote the full restoration of women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan and throughout the world.
Let me see if I read this accurately: It’s our fault women are oppressed in Afghanistan. It’s our responsibility to fund “Afghan-women-led non-governmental organizations” (I suppose in penance for our support of the Mujahideen against the Russians – who would have protected the rights of Afghani women). It’s our responsibility to make sure international peacekeeping (read UN) forces should have jurisdiction in Afghanistan. And since Bush is so blatantly anti-women, we’ve got to get rid of him.
Even though the Bush-led unilateral invasion of Afghanistan is what has given Afghani women the opportunity for more freedom than they’ve had since 1996 when the Taliban took over. Hell, more freedom than they’ve ever had.
Here’s some more NOW bitching (and I use that word intentionally) about Bush and the WoT not doing enough fast enough, incompetently, and for all the wrong reasons from 2003.