"As If"

(Note to self: DO NOT write on a blog for 5+ years and NOT TAG A SINGLE POST. I was looking for a blog I wrote quite awhile ago on Afghanistan. I have no idea when I wrote it. I thought I would take a look at it and see what I thought about the war over there before I wrote this. But I can’t find it and I’m tiredhttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=8483456 of looking.)

Last week elections were held in Afghanistan. A winner has not been decided, and irregularities and complaints are mounting. At this point, incumbent Hamid Karzai is winning, but final results will not be available until mid to late September.

I’m not in the least surprised that the election has been problematic; trying to turn a country into a democracy isn’t exactly easy. There will certainly be growing pains as Afghanistan’s fledgling (and that is probably too generous a word for it) democracy takes hold (or will it?) and grows into its own.

While many are hailing elections as a positive step for the people of Afghanistan, most have forgotten, or ignored, what a giant step back gender relations took when Karzai quietly passed the a controversial family law that allows men to withhold food and money from their wives if they do not have sex with them.

The law also:

  • forbids women to work unless their husbands grant permission for them to do so;
  • bans women from trying to gain official guardianship of their children;
  • lets rapists avoid prosecution by allowing them to pay money to women who have been injured during rape.

And this version of the family law is much less harsh than its predecessor which basically legalized rape within marriage, and sought to keep women housebound and uneducated.

In late March, when news of the family law was broken, there was a large global outcry, so much so that Karzai announced that the law would be reviewed.

Where is that outcry now?

Women in Afghanistan initially protested the new law, but were stoned as they demonstrated.

Is this really what our soldiers are fighting for?

We are supposed to be fighting to create a better life for ALL Afghans – not just those ‘blessed’ with male anatomy.

I find it beyond appalling that next to NO ONE spoke out about Karzai passing the family law in order to get a few votes. But maybe that’s because that’s just the way politics is done, right?

I am sickened by our government’s inaction on this matter. Harper condemned the initial law back in April, but has not responded to Karzai’s strike at the rights of women.

Violence is one of the world’s greatest threats to women. We need to use our presence in Afghanistan to ensure that women are treated equally. To not do so desecrates the memories of all those Canadian soldiers who have died trying to free all Afghans.

Source: Global Health Magazine

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