Its always a very difficult tight-rope to walk between cultural sensitivity and insisting that the rights of women and minorities are respected. However I will come down firmly on the side of upholding human rights, this is particularly pertinent in the case of womens rights. In many communities women are the holders of the "Hamulas" honour, therefore it is their behaviour, dress etc which is policed, with many of these restrictions embedded in customary law.
This is often associated with Islam but is found amongst all religions in conservative societies. Often in the west we fetishise the fact that women in Islam often choose to wear the hijab, when in fact if one speaks to many women in the Middle East for example they will state that the hijab is the least of their worries and it is the institutionised patriarchy.
The reason I bring this up is because I have just read the most depressing article on the plight of women in Afghanistan. I have been campaigning for the rights of women in Afghanistan since the days that the Taliban imposed the Burqa and refused to let women leave the house without being accompanied by a male relative. In the days of the Taliban women died because there were no female doctors ( women were not allowed to work), girls couldn't attend school and wrre not even allowed to make a noise with their feet, ( that would mean they somehow existed). I was never in favour of the war because I don't think it is possible to change society by force and also because the Russians had tried and failed and I couldn't see that the Us would be any more successful. However I did not oppose it as vehemently as the war in Iraq and I suppose in some ways I hoped that at least women may claw back some basic rights.
It appears that Karzai, the American puppet President is attempting to present himself as independent of the Us and buy off some Shia voters by using women yet again as the battle ground fior their political aspirations.
Michel Foucault once said that there is no such thing as progress and tragically I am starting to believe him.
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