May 09
Lorraine Berry lives in the Fingerlakes region of New York, although it's her transplanted home. On weekends, she can be heard throughout the area, cheering on her beloved Manchester City F.C. When not writing at Does This Make Sense? or Talking Writing, she can be found hiking with her two dogs, hanging out with her two daughters, eating what her beloved Rob has cooked for her, or teaching creative writing at a small college in the area.


MARCH 31, 2009 6:50AM

SHAME ON HILLARY CLINTON (updated Afghan post)

Rate: 26 Flag


In 2006, Afghan human rights activist Safia Ama Jan was assassinated by Taliban terrorists who wanted to silence the woman who had secretly educated girls during the worst years of Taliban rule. At the time of her death, she was still speaking out for women in a supposedly "free" Afghanistan, the one that we had liberated when we defeated the Taliban and installed Karzai as our presidential puppet.

When I wrote about Ama Jan's death, I wrote with fury and sadness, my tears mitigated only by the hope that her death would not have been in vain, that we would rededicate ourselves to the proposition that women were entitled to civil rights in Afghanistan, and that the days of women locked up in their houses were over.

Then, a few months ago, I wrote about Afghani school girls who had had acid thrown in their faces. Their crime?

Attending school.

I began to feel as if I were Cassandra. Was no one noticing the policies of violence and intimidation that were being practiced against women who were daring to come out from underneath the Burqa, who were asserting their rights to an education and a vote in a free Afghanistan?

I guess those days have been officially decapitated. Stoned to death in the Parliament. The Guardian and The Independent are  reporting that the Afghani parliament, over the objections of its female members, has passed a law that would return women in Afghanistan to an existence that rivals the restrictions they suffered under the Taliban.

So much for Operation Enduring Freedom or whatever the fuck it was that we called it.

Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, has signed a law which "legalises" rape, women's groups and the United Nations warn. Critics claim the president helped rush the bill through parliament in a bid to appease Islamic fundamentalists ahead of elections in August.

In a massive blow for women's rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman's right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by
The Independent.

"It is one of the worst bills passed by the parliament this century," fumed Shinkai Karokhail, a woman MP who campaigned against the legislation. "It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."

President Obama, are you listening?

Hamid Karzai has been accused of trying to win votes in Afghanistan's presidential election by backing a law the UN says legalises rape within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands' permission.

The Afghan president signed the law earlier this month, despite condemnation by human rights activists and some MPs that it flouts the constitution's equal rights provisions.

 The Guardian goes on to report:

The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands' permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands' permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex.

A briefing document prepared by the United Nations Development Fund for Women also warns that the law grants custody of children to fathers and grandfathers only.

Senator Humaira Namati, a member of the upper house of the Afghan parliament, said the law was "worse than during the Taliban". "Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam," she said.

So far, Western diplomats have refused to comment on the law for fear of being seen as intervening in Afghani internal affairs. 

Excuse me? We invaded their country, have used it as a launching pad for a war against Al Quaeda and the search for Bin Laden, have wanted access to the pipeline that supplies oil, have told Karzai what we want him to do, and when it comes to women's rights, NOW we don't want to get involved?

Soraya Sobhrang, the head of women's affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said western silence had been "disastrous for women's rights in Afghanistan".

"What the international community has done is really shameful. If they had got more involved in the process when it was discussed in parliament we could have stopped it. Because of the election I am not sure we can change it now. It's too late for that."

I understand that President Obama's new objectives in Afghanistan are to find Bin Laden, destroy Al Quaeda and get the hell out. But if we leave behind a strengthened Taliban that has complete control of the Parliamentary process and leaves women in the same slave-like role that they were in before the war, have we fulfilled whatever moral duties we had when we went around for all the Bush years claiming to have removed the Taliban from power?

Do women really get the short end of the stick, again?

An Irish official has argued that if members of the Taliban can be brought back into the Afghani government tent, that it will make the peace process easier, and that the continued fighting between Americans and Muslims only makes militant groups within Afghanistan stronger. But his answer to the question about women is vague. No, more than vague. I think he knows exactly what women are in for should such a thing happen.

Look at how the following is worded:

Q - Do women have a lot to fear from a reconciliation scenario involving the Taliban?

A - Women have a lot to hope for from the restoration of security in Afghanistan. Women are big losers in the current situation in Afghanistan where the country seems to be locked into a perpetual conflict and the price of that continuing conflict is lack of access to the basic services that are there on paper but don't exist or that they are not safe in accessing. Women are big losers from the killing of children and family members. So women have a lot to gain from the restoration of stability. However of course there is this key issue of the terms on which that security and stability is restored.

It's that however that troubles me. 

However, sings Cassandra, beware the man who says however

 UPDATE: 10:45 EDT

This is the second time I've seen this today. It seems we're trying to peel off the 'peaceful Taliban' as long as they are willing to accept the Constitution. BUT if they change the constitution to make the Taliban happy, how does that figure into this? What the hell is Hillary Clinton doing? 

"We must ... support efforts by the government of Afghanistan to separate the extremists of al Qaeda and the Taliban from those who have joined their ranks not out of conviction, but out of desperation," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the conference in The Hague.

"They should be offered an honorable form of reconciliation and reintegration into a peaceful society, if they are willing to abandon violence, break with al Qaeda, and support the constitution," Clinton said.

Please, please tell us what this means, Sec. of State Clinton. Does this really mean that we are willing to accept the Taliban--which is an extremist group to begin with--back into the Afghan government? Are we willing to sacrifice women's lives? What the hell is our foreign policy right now?


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Troubling issue, powerfully presented. Can't wait to see how this might be covered in the Main Stream Media. Tick...tick...tick... Oh, wait...
Yeah, funny, isn't it? I stumbled across it while reading the British newspapers as is my wont. Nothing in the American papers that I can see.
This should trouble all thinking people. In fact, it should trouble all people. Once again, thank you for bringing it to the forefront.
I just read about Hillary Clinton's trip to Afghanistan: not a word about this new law in the American news reports. WTF?
This is criminal and represents a continuation of not only the Taliban but the male Western nations who ignored the great resource that women's freedom could mean to true development in Afghanistan. This plunges these women back into the barbarism the Taliban wrecked upon the people.
So many women risked their lives and died for something better than what we are delivering. Women have begged for the security we never provided in order to live free from fear.
It's an old boys world where women are expendable. These warlords are buddies with NATO and our own government from a long time ago.
Thank you, wanderer, for bringing us this.
BBE-- I don't share your cynicism, but I am outraged nonetheless that Afghan women are not going to be taken into account.

O'Stephanie--makes you wonder when we're going to live in that equal world we keep being told about, huh?
In a very weird & twisted way, it's as if we are actually allowing the real Bush agenda (the one in which he pandered to the RWAs) to take hold in Afghanistan.
These repugnant practices need to stop and now. I suggest we all email the White House, the State Department and leading editorial boards around the world to push for these acts against women to be recognized for the crimes they are. To truly restore Afghanistan to the nations of the world; their Human Rights Laws need to be like those of other nations, who recognize that all lives are protected. to find contact info.

Rated for calling our attention to this extremely important issue
Thank you, GM,
I feel as if I'm ALWAYS asking folks to contact the WH and State Dept about something. Thank you for being the one to do it this time. Thanks for the comments.
More needs to be done to bring issues like this to the fore and I applaud you for doing your part here.

We in the West are apparently so worried about our checkbooks or investing in causes like gay marriage, that we can ignore really horrendous state-sponsored abuses in parts of the world even though we are militarily entrenched there and should have some influence.

Women in Afghanistan are being subjugated and mutilated; gays and other sexual minorities in Iraq are being shot and hanged.

Where and how can we better direct our public outrage?
I'm not sure what's wrong with me this morning, but I'm tired. I can't believe that this isn't even in the American papers. I don't know. Do you think Michelle would care?
RIF ~ I agree completely with you about some of the idiocy social issues people get behind; when there are issues like 'fingerlakewanderer' has so superbly stated here.
People who say "however" also have a habit of saying "yeah, but". As in "yeah, but we can't do that."

"Some people see things as they are, and ask 'Why'. I see things as they might be and ask 'Why not'?"
-- Sen. R.F. Kennedy, c 1968
Thanks for bringing this out of hiding, FLW. We just have to keep hammering away at these people, I guess. But good god, I'm so tired of having to wave my arms and say, "Hello! THIS is human misery! THIS is suffering!" And have people say, "huh?"
when does the bullshit of ignorance end? this country is upping its presence to fight terrorism while appeasing the annihilation of the fundamental freedoms we afford our own daughters. --rated--
The State Department needs to be bombarded with letters and faxes and phone calls asking them why we are making peace with the Taliban. Ask the Sec of State if women's rights will be guaranteed and the new laws disavowed before negotiations continue.
Your update just pushed me from simmering anger to boiling, raging fury.
I read about this in the Independent on the train this morning and I was enraged. What the hell are we fighting for? Wasn't it to crush the Taliban and their medieval views on the world?
And people say that feminism is no longer needed. To them I say piss off.

I think I need to re-read “Reading Lolita in Tehran” and “Honor Lost” starting tonight.
Yeah, isn't that hilarious Anni? Weren't we just talking about how nobody needs feminism anymore?
Joke's on you Afghan women! You trusted us!
Horrifying. There's always a double-standard when it comes to the rights of women. Everyone looks the other way. Including my fellow feminists in America who have nothing to say about Shari'a law and the daily slavery-like conditions of millions of Muslim women. Rated.
The real reason we invaded Afghanistan is the opium poppy. It will never be broadcast on the evening news.

Prior to 1980, Afghanistan didn't produce opium; but after the US/CIA backed Mujahideen won the Soviet/Afghan war, Afghanistan farmers started growing opium poppies as a principal cash crop, eventually producing 88% of the world's opium in 1988. When the Taliban came to power, they destroyed most of the opium fields, reducing opium production by 94% and nearly eradicating opium poppies in Afghanistan. This put a big kink in the cash flow of the CIA. On September 9th, 2001, the plans for an American invasion of Afghanistan were on President Bush's desk, and two days later, on 9/11 we had the excuse to invade. Of course, the media blames the Taliban for just about everything. Today, Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world's heroin, and they break new production records for opium every year. This is just one reason why I'm not too keen on paying taxes to the U.S. government.

And the policy hasn't changed with the new administration. Has it...? Shame on them. Shame on us. Here in free America, we live in the belly of the monster.
I've been thinking about the poppies. As a friend suggested today, why not buy the opium from them? Use what we need for medicinal purposes, burn the rest. War on drugs taken care of. But that would be too easy, right?
So much money involved... and the PTB do not care for right or wrong or decency; or even about the fact that their business enslaves others; including the women of Afghanistan, who are so tightly controlled by the men precisely because they are the only ones who speak common sense, and love; which doesn't compute in their narrow world of violence and profit.
For what it's worth, I did send this blog post as a letter to Hillary at State. I'm sure it will get all the attention that my letters to her as my senator used to get. "Thank you for contacting my office. I want to assure you that I read each letter personally......
Yeah. right.
I cannot get over how angry I am about this.
I grew up in the Finger Lakes. Clifton Springs. Right now, although I am in Boulder CO. and about to take off again on a journey that will take me many places, my permanent addy is in Rhode Island, where I am "represented" by Patrick Kennedy, who responds to my own epistles with similar words that convey how politically empty and bankrupt he really is. I see little difference between he and Hillary, or most of the other members of Congress, no matter what their party. They never represented we, the people.
If you'd like to get some insight into the Clintons, read a book entitled "Compromised" by Terry Reid. This book, a true story as related by a pilot who worked for Col. Ollie North and flew missions into Nicaragua for the CIA during the Iran Contra affair, tells the whole sordid tale from the inside, including secret facilities built in Arkansas while Bill Clinton was governor. It is exceptionally good reading, and sheds quite a light on American politics and how things evolve because they played the game and served the PTB, in order to become one themselves.
This reminds me of Black Hawk Down, when the Somali soldier says to his American captive
"Did you really think you would come to our country and install a democracy like America?"
The bottom line is that Western ways do not fit in Afghanistan at the present, and they are going to do what they are going to do. Whether it is in American interests to be there anymore, I do not know.
But the idea that we are going to use force to bring peace and freedom in the sense that we know it in the West to a place like Iraq and Afghanistan has a long history of finishing like the Heart of Darkness character Kurtz did:
Exterminate all the brutes!
Don, I am afraid that in some respects we have become the brutes ourselves. We are merely sophisticated brutes, bent upon domination for our own purposes, and much too mindless of the people we run over or their own self determination. The quest for power, resources, and empire has twisted everyone who engages in it; and over the course of world history, people always make the same mistakes, because people are people; and as long as the patriarchal system is enforced, I suspect this will ever be the case.
Problems this big, this ingrained, this complex, this endemic, this...foreign...just leave me quivering on the floor like a piddling puppy. I don't know what the answer/solution is, but I'm sure it's not easy or simple. A brain as tiny as mine can't begin to register ways to cope with this issue, or rape in Darfur, or blood diamonds, or activists run over by bulldozers in Palestine, or...

I just find that I have to not engage my brain about these things, or I get sucked into a vortex of depression/anger.

It is not President Obama's problem. It's Afghanistan's problem. Were we to attempt to impose some kind of Western-values-based feminist enlightenment on the tribes, I rather suspect that wouldn't go over so well, either.

At a certain point, I just want to throw up my hands and say, "Some parts of the world are well and truly fucked. And no indignance or handwringing on my couch in front of CNN or my computer is going to change that."

I'd agree with you, BUT, we are occupying their country. We've insisted that they put in a new constitution. We gave them a president. They're supposed to be our allies in the fight against terrorism. How can we do all of these things but decide that how they treat their women is off-limits? That's the thing that gets me. I understand about cultural imperialism, but the women who are quoted in the article are BEGGING for us to help them, and we're ignoring them. That's what pisses me off.
Karzai is a vassal, little more than a stooge put up front, in the media limelight; whereas the real men are up in the hills, fighting the invaders; ie. fighting us. The women and children are, of course, not considered by either side of the equation, and but casualties; which is how the patriarchal system works. Karzai is doing what he is told. And the American aggressor is no more concerned with women's rights than the Taliban. There's a fair population right here in America who would gladly go backwards and undo everything women have gained in the last 80 years. Such is human nature as prescribed by the church, which is the origin and the substance of the patriarchy.
thank you verbal, for saying this: "It is not President Obama's problem. It's Afghanistan's problem. Were we to attempt to impose some kind of Western-values-based feminist enlightenment on the tribes, I rather suspect that wouldn't go over so well, either."

i'm not unsympathetic to the cause but it's just not as easy as that. i think when we get the situation more under control we can address it. sure isn't fair to lay it all at hillary's feet.
Once again -- in the world, not on your blog FLW -- I have to ask why SoS Clinton is being trashed, when Obama is being let off the hook with this blog post?

Karzai legalizes rape, Iraq is ready to execute gays in batches, according to Andrew Sullivan -- but our country supports both governments. A shitty use of our tax dollars -- but ultimately the buck stops with the president. Can you see SOS Clinton deviating from the Obama administration line? She'd be thrown to the American Taliban -- the lefty male blogosphere that pronounced her a right wing stooge a year ago.

Let's get serious about what she can do, and not treat her as the Magical Female, the all-powerful woman who can be expected to right all woman always have to.
You are right, of course. It's U.S. policy, SOS Clinton just happens to be the public face of it, and thus, was the target of my rage yesterday. It is the President who is calling the shots, and I'm mystified as to what he is thinking--why make peace with the Taliban when they have shown themselves to be a repressive group, especially when it comes to women?
I guess what I had really hoped for from Ms. Clinton was a moment, when realizing she was a woman, her daughter was a woman, looked at what is happening to women in Afghanistan and asked the president to reconsider.
This is our world. I too, am horrified by the way these women are being treated and have been treated for centuries. I am thankful that my daughter and I were born here when by chance we could have been born anywhere in the world including these countries. I hope I am wrong, but I wonder, when our voices (female and male) even in ground swell, are being ignored and dismissed on domestic issues, what power do we have to change foreign affairs. I am not just, or even speaking of this current and very new administration. For that matter, if Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has little power or control, as Joan validly indicates, then what can we do to influence the change we want to see in the world? And is even President Obama really calling the shots? Who does he answer to if he isn't answering us? As I said before, I am not singling out this very new administration. I wonder these days who our last president or any high powered politician in Washington was his or her own person. Rated for speaking out for those who have been tortured, silenced and killed.
This has been big news in Canada and the neo-con government has been making noises but I doubt that they'll amount to anything in the end. It certainly puts paid to the big lie that they've been working so hard only to make the average Afghan's lives better. I do believe that many, even in the military, are sincere, but political expediency always wins the day. It came out recently here, as if there was any doubt, that the warlords, aka the Afghan government, runs the opium trade. And these are the allies?