Women in Peril

Frank Crimi in FrontPage

The Afghanistan government’s peace overtures to the Taliban place Afghan women in deadly peril.

 

As the United States begins its scheduled 2014 troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Afghan government has intensified its reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. Needless to say, the outcome of any subsequent peace deal with the Taliban holds enormous consequences for the women of Afghanistan, given the brutality they suffered at the hands of the fundamentalist regime.

Thus, many Afghan women have been adamant that any negotiations with the Taliban have substantial female representation, as a way to ensure that the rights they have gained won’t be crushed if the Taliban returns to the Afghan fold.

This seemed like a genuine possibility at first, when Afghan President Hamid Karzai created the High Peace Council to direct negotiations with the Taliban and gave the committee female representation. Unfortunately, the government top-loaded the council with 60 men and only 9 women, a disparity in numbers that brought immediate concern from Afghanistan’s nascent crop of women leaders.

One such leader, Fauzia Kofi, a member of Afghanistan’s parliament, said of the female council members, “They’re negotiating for our rights — for my rights, for the rights of my daughters — from a position of weakness.” Suraya Parlika, head of the All Afghan Women’s Union, added, “The women on the council are…pawns.”

Unfortunately, their view was confirmed by the council’s deputy director, Ataullah Luddin, who said, “They want to go as a group of women to meet with Mullah Omar [the Taliban supreme leader]. But that’s just not possible. If they go, they will be killed.” Luddin also added with a laugh, “And anyway, we all know that women can’t keep a secret for more than 34 hours.”

Luddin’s quip notwithstanding, his appraisal of the Taliban response to such an encounter was spot on. While Muslim men in the region more often than not treat women little better than livestock, the Taliban’s approach takes the situation to a whole other, disturbing level.

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