Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
Brooklyn, New York, United States
June 01
Freelance writer, editor, and first citizen of Judy's World.

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SEPTEMBER 20, 2012 1:55PM

Mission accomplished? Afghan women jailed for "running away"

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Afghan women   

It’s a joy to hear that the more than sixteen billion dollars in foreign aid we have invested in Afghanistan in just the last four years, let alone the unrelenting occupation of that unfortunate country, have at least bought a fair and equitable judicial system. The first solid proof of this came last December, when President Hamid Karzai announced that he would pardon a jailed woman accused of rape provided that she marry her attacker. The man had impregnated her and she gave birth in prison. Who knows how many years in the slammer she would have gotten otherwise. A bargain, wouldn’t you say?

Now news is coming out of Afghanistan that a full seventy percent of Afghan women being held in prison have been jailed for the crime of running away from abusive households. According to women’s affairs minister Husn Banu Ghazanfar, “Forced marriages, difference in age of couples, violence, divorce comments and several other issues are the main motives which force Afghan girls and married women to flee from their homes.”

And yet, the offence of running away from a violent husband isn’t even listed in the Afghan law books. Fawzia Koufi, chief of the Afghan parliamentarian commission for human rights, civil society and women’s affairs, told the Khaama Press: “This is a major issue and women are jailed over adultery after escaping from their home. If the government does not have a specific law in this regard then it should be referred to us in order to modify a regulation in a bid to clarify the rules and prevent misunderstanding and misuse by Afghan attorney and police regarding the Afghan women.” Good luck with that, sister.

According to figures collected by the International Centre for Prison Studies in 2011, upwards of 600 women are currently being held in Afghan government prisons.

The status of women is evolving swimmingly in other areas as well, as laid out in a new female code of conduct President Karzai endorsed in March of 2012. According to it, "women should not travel without a male guardian and should not mingle with strange men in places such as schools, markets and offices. Beating one's wife is prohibited only if there is no 'sharia-compliant reason,' referring to the principles of Islamic law."

Of course, we’re always told that women’s rights will fall into the toilet if NATO leaves Afghanistan “before the mission has been completed,” but it looks to me like they’re already there – and are flushing down fast. Mission accomplished, Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama?



Image source: Aghanistan Women's News 







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[r] judy, chilling. thanks for telling reality surreal and horrifying and repellent as it is. but "humanitarian" concern, especially for women is the first propaganda tool for engineering consent for corporate wars. best, libby
Oh I know, Libby, believe me I do! Some people call it "imperial feminism." Of course, none of what goes on under Karzai's watch surprises me in the least, but even now, after eleven years of war, this sort of thing still pisses me off no end.
not a good place to be a woman. i have heard it was better before western nations began to 'take an interest' in afghanistan, but the truth is hard to know, and no doubt variable in place and time.

but i'm pretty sure no western boot is on the ground there, or anywhere, in order to save women from their men.
We should all support the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and people like Malalai Joya known as the bravest woman in Afghanistan who fight for democracy, freedom, secularism and anti fundamentalism instead of thugs like Karzai, the Northern Alliance or the Taliban who are all part of the problem.
Thanks, Alaska.In fact, I wrote a piece about Joya back in 2010:


It looks like this type of "law" is spreading to other countries such as Egypt. Is it? Where else is it going on?
That's a totally different culture, and the Communists and others every time they intervened in such things, came to regret it, if that means we are compromising our ideals too. It's an imperfect world.
What a great post, Judy. The US political and corporate elite have never regarded women as full human beings. Witness the brutal anti-woman agenda promoted by what passes for the Republican Party.
It's hard to believe it's 2012 in a lot of countries, or that they're an airplane ride away. Nice post.
But are these LEGITIMATE cases of running away? Maybe we could have U.S. Republican operatives go over there to distingnish between 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' running away, like the crucial distinction between legitimate rape and non-really rape, right? A council of elderly white, well-to-do Christian men could decide these matters. (After they've finished deciding whether racism still exists in America, that is, and told people of color their findings and pronouncements).
Actually this is too serious to joke too much about. Loosening the bonds restricting women--not just using that as an excuse for other motives--has lasting benefits and consequences that resonate throughout the entire mind-set and the culture.