Friday, March 8, 2013

Afghans on Afghanistan


Fariba Nawa - Afghani Perspective on US Intervention

Published on Apr 07, 2009 in Politics

"Most Afghans support US presence.   Main fear, is to go back to civil war after Soviets and US pulled out, worst than soviet invasion.     They want the US to stay and help rebuild.   If soldiers leave, back to civil war, or Taliban.   Some do like Taliban, but in desperation, Taliban brought them back to medieval times, no opportunities, especially for women.   Afghans depend on this effort.   Very different that Iraq.  Afghans don't consider US an occupation. not like Iraq."
2011 interview

NAWA: It is in line with the culture and history. Thirty years ago, women were going to school and working and had many rights that they do not have now. Even if we can go back in time during the monarchy in Afghanistan, it would be better than what is going on now.
However, after the Taliban, great gains have been made for women. Two point seven million girls are in school right now, and during the Taliban, as we all know, they weren't allowed to go to school. Women are working. There are 69 members in parliament.
What I would like to see is that progress continuing, not going backwards.
MARTIN: I wanted to ask about that. Do you think that there has been progress? You've traveled around Afghanistan for more than a decade now. Do you think that women's rights have improved since the Taliban lost power?
NAWA: Absolutely. But the problem has been the continuing war and violence, and therefore the level of domestic violence and violence against women has apparently gone up. Oxfam just came out with a report saying that there are more cases reported and the reason I think there's more violence reported is partly because of that progress. Women feel that they can report these things.
There are more self-immolations now and this is a very strange way to look at it, but that's one way of struggling, of speaking up for women. Under the Taliban, women were muffled in every single way and I was there under the Taliban, as well as after, to see the problems they were having.

 Dr. Huma Ahmed-Ghosh

Afghanistan has always had elite and middle-class women who asserted their rights and marched towards modernization. But despite these examples, the lot of most Afghan women in rural areas has been one of oppression through tribal customs and dictates. Those women who were publicly visible throughout the history of Afghanistan belonged to the royalty or elite and represented a very tiny population of the country. They do act as role models and provide a window into the possibility that social change can occur and illustrate the potential that women from different strata of society can 
Journal of International Women’s Studies Vol 4 #3 May 2003 11 
attempt change in their lives. Magnus and Naby (1998:13) claim that, “The internalization of democracy based on western individualism rather than traditional Afghan Islamic communalism, gender-blind social interaction, and the elevation of the individual above society, does not appear to be part of the emerging regional or Afghan worldview.” I agree, especially in light of the non-deliverance of rights and promised goods by western democracies to their own populations. In Afghanistan, democracy and an assertion of women’s rights can occur when the state is in an economically and politically stable condition, assisted by men and women inside and outside of Afghanistan. Democracy will occur as a process of social change that the whole nation needs to undergo. When this happens, a society built on democratic-oriented ideology will regard women as equal partners in the social, political, and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. 
Today Afghanistan is in such a desperate state that without external help and financial aid its future will be further jeopardized. It is against this political backdrop that one has to understand women’s situation in Afghanistan. Major dilemmas will always exist as to the most appropriate path to follow. There will always be debates about a so-called western model, urban elite model, Islamic model, and fundamentalist model. The basic (may I say fundamental) need is to ensure that women, like men, have access to resources for survival like education, jobs, mobility and public visibility. They too, like men, need to be ascribed status and respect for their decisions. 
At the crossroads of Islamic fundamentalism and westernization, especially in terms of women’s status, Afghanistan provides the testing grounds for the future of hybridization. The current socio-political situation provides a basis for new insights into theoretical constructions of modernity, secularism and gender equality. The situation of women in the future of Afghanistan might challenge the dominant discourse on citizenship and feminism as defined by the West and provide to non-western nations and minorities in western nations an alternative that can bring social justice and economic equality to all. For women in Afghanistan participation in the economic reconstruction of the country is essential to realize their dreams of a cohesive and peaceful nation; becoming “victims” of Islamic burqas and Western “liberation” is the least of their concern. 

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