Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Short Version of News on Women in Afghanistan and Iraq


Women can now sing on the television:

Deputy Culture and Information Minister Abdul Hamid Mubaiz:"There should be no discrimination between man and woman. Therefore, we wanted to have them appear on television to give them the same rights as men."

Or maybe not:

Afghanistan's Supreme Court has protested the video, stating that they "are opposed to women singing and dancing as a whole...this is totally against the decision of the Supreme Court and it has to be stopped,"

Women are now citizens with equal rights and duties to those of men:

Afghanistan's new constitution is a success for the country's women. It deserves commendation for guaranteeing women what appears to be an equal rights clause, something that still eludes women in the United States.

Or maybe not:

The final constitution could be used to implement Taliban-like Sharia law. Before the equal rights clause appears, Article III of the constitution states that in Afghanistan, "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam."


The Bush administration pledged its support for the inclusion of women in decision-making bodies. The result: three women on the Iraqi Governing Council, one woman on the Iraqi cabinet and no women appointed to the 24-member constitutional committee. The proportion of women in the Iraqi population is 65%.

The nice interpretation:

Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. Iraq must start somewhere. Besides, we aren't going to interfere with another country's social traditions. We only interfere with political traditions!

The not-so-nice interpretation:

...the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) is treating a growing human rights crisis for women as an extracurricular issue at best, leaving women at the mercy of thugs on the streets and the religious parties that have rushed into the political vacuum.


Over dinner in the palace cafeteria one night, when I discussed the accelerating crisis for women with two high-ranking American officials in the Interior Ministry--which oversees police and security--I was told with shocking candor as my pen perched over my reporter's notebook: "We don't do women." It's hardly a dirty secret that our government abroad views women's rights as at most a secondary concern, yet it was thoroughly sobering to hear this lack of interest so casually discussed.

The Talibanization of Iraq: It's beginning:

The provisional government in Iraq has removed the Saddam-era family law from the legal books and replaced it with the use of sharia to be administered by local religious leaders.

The order, narrowly approved by the 25-member council in a closed-door session Dec. 29, was reportedly sponsored by conservative Shiite members.

Paul Bremer hasn't approved this change yet. Will he? And whether he will or not, what's going to happen after June? One guess:

"This new law will send Iraqi families back to the Middle Ages," Hakki said. "It will allow men to have four or five or six wives. It will take away children from their mothers. It will allow anyone who calls himself a cleric to open an Islamic court in his house and decide about who can marry and divorce and have rights."

Is this what we went to war for? Is this what freedom means for the female citizens of Iraq?
Gag me with a spoon.

And: No, Afghani women canNOT sing on television. Link courtesy of upyernoz.