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Let’s Talk Taliban

Particularly, about the Taliban in Afghanistan and how it treats women. Now, I realize this might just seem like an “out of the clear blue sky” kinda thing, but trust me when I tell you it is not. (Photo by Steve Evans)

First, I should say that before the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women actually had a fair number of rights. They had the right to vote about the same time women in the US did. The participated in the legislature, worked as teachers, worked in the government, and generally enjoyed a number of freedoms in side and outside the home.

And then the Taliban came along. Let’s just look at some of the changes instituted by the Taliban in terms of women:

[snip] 1- Complete ban on women’s work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers and most professionals. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in some hospitals in Kabul.

2- Complete ban on women’s activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother or husband).

3- Ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers.

4- Ban on women being treated by male doctors.

5- Ban on women studying at schools, universities or any other educational institution. (Taliban have converted girls’ schools into religious seminaries.)

6- Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe.

7- Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.

8- Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles.

9- Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage. (A number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule).

10- Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off).

11- Ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males.

12- Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman’s voice).

13- Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman’s footsteps.)

14- Ban on women riding in a taxi without a mahram.

15- Ban on women’s presence in radio, television or public gatherings of any kind.

16- Ban on women playing sports or entering a sport center or club.

17- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.

18- Ban on women’s wearing brightly colored clothes. In Taliban terms, these are “sexually attracting colors.”

19- Ban on women gathering for festive occasions such as the Eids, or for any recreational purpose.

20- Ban on women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place.

21- Modification of all place names including the word “women.” For example, “women’s garden” has been renamed “spring garden”.

22- Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses.

23- Compulsory painting of all windows, so women can not be seen from outside their homes.

24- Ban on male tailors taking women’s measurements or sewing women’s clothes.

25- Ban on female public baths.

26- Ban on males and females traveling on the same bus. Public buses have now been designated “males only” (or “females only”).

27- Ban on flared (wide) pant-legs, even under a burqa.

28- Ban on the photographing or filming of women.

29- Ban on women’s pictures printed in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Pretty exhaustive list, right? Wrong. There is more. Much more. To say that women are treated poorly by the Taliban is the understatement of understatements.

So, why the hell am I going on about the Taliban? Because the Obama Administration is making good on a claim Obama made to engage with them. The theory, as I understand it, is to try and get some of them to move away from Al Qaeda. How likely that will be is debatable, but these authorities seem to think it will not work:

[snip] Some Afghan policy specialists are skeptical about whether negotiations would succeed. Peter Bergen, a specialist on Afghanistan and al-Qaida, told a US Institute of Peace seminar in Washington last week that there were a host of problems with such a strategy, not least why the Taliban should enter negotiations “when they think they are winning”.

Audrey Kurth Cronin, a member of the US National War College faculty in Washington, and the author of How Terrorism Ends, said talks with Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network were pointless because there would be no negotiable terms.

She said there could be talks with Hekmatyar, but these would be conducted through back channels, potentially by a third party. Given his support for jihad, she said, “it would be unreasonable to expect the US and the UK to do so”.

Asked how Obama’s Afghan strategy was progressing, a senior former US government official familiar with the latest Pentagon thinking said: “In a word, poorly. We seriously need to be developing a revised plan of action that will allow us a chance to achieve sufficient security in a more sustainable manner.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

So much for not negotiating with terrorists. I guess that is so Twentieth Century.

Indeed, the New Yorker has an article coming out soon about this whole issue, the US. and Taliban talks. This is something that is moving along, even if we haven’t heard much about it:

[snip]When asked for comment on the talks, a White House spokesman said that the remarks that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made last Friday at the Asia Society offered a “thorough representation of the U.S. position.” Clinton had tough words for the Taliban, saying that they were confronted with a choice between political compromise and ostracism as “an enemy of the international community.” She added, “I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable. And diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace. President Reagan understood that when he sat down with the Soviets. And Richard Holbrooke made this his life’s work. He negotiated face to face with Milosevic and ended a war.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Uh, yeah – “distasteful” is putting it mildly. Because here is the thing that these articles do not discuss – how the US can negotiate with the Taliban not only for its Al Qaeda ways, but the horrific treatment women suffer under their rule. Here is what happens when you “negotiate” with the likes of the Taliban (h/t Breeze. Photo credit: crethiplethi.com):

[snip] On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed his government plans to take control of some of Afghanistan’s women shelters.

“Those who are found in violation of the established standards and the rules and regulations will be taken over by the Afghan government,” he said.

Under the plan, a group of Afghan officials will decide who is allowed to seek protection in a shelter.

Human Rights groups worry that Afghan government-run shelters will be disastrous for women and girls fleeing abuse.

“I don’t trust many of the people in this government to decide who should be allowed into a shelter and who should be ejected from a shelter,” said Rachel Reid of Human Rights Watch. “Often people in government have the same conservative attitudes that these girls and women are fleeing.”

According to the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, most Afghan women and girls face severe domestic violence – and many are forced into marriage well below the legal age, some as young as 8 years old. [snip}

And what does this have to do with the Taliban? This takeover of women's shelters is a (misguided) attempt by Karzai to "woo" the Taliban.

But wait, there's more:

[snip] “This regulation comes at a time when the president is trying to position himself as someone the Taliban can do business with,” said Reid. “He is reaching out and calling them [the Taliban] his brothers. He isn’t very interested in protecting his sisters, his wives, his daughters at the moment. But they desperately need his protection.”

Women’s rights activists fear this is just the first step in a much larger plan to welcome the Taliban back into political life.

“I really see that in the future they will target other women’s programs and women’s NGOs just to appease the Taliban,” said Manizha Naderi, the head of Women for Afghan Women, a group that runs shelters across Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department issued a public statement saying that it was “concerned” by the takeover. Privately, American and western diplomats are furious. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

This is what happens when one tries to negotiate with this kind of organization, which is why they US deciding to engage with the Taliban is problematic. Why State personnel should be “concerned” about this takeover is indicative of the short-sightedness of this enterprise. What, did they think the Taliban would just embrace Obama’s Hopey Changyness and forfeit their belief system, including how they treat women? Please. Karzai is making this concession now, to take over the shelters, based on a less than credible rationale, to appease the Taliban. But what would the US do to appease them, and get them to come to the table?

I think this old proverb sums this whole situation up: when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Karzai, the US, or anyone else who negotiates with the Taliban are going to be tarnished in one way or another. Sometimes things that are “unimaginable” should remain so, and not made a reality. Like negotiating with the Taliban. Just a thought.

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  • +

    Bronwyn,

    You keep censoring my posts. What are you afraid of? Can’t you take an opposing view on you comments?

    Very lame.

    I will repost my original comment and lets see how fast you and Amy censor my posts again.

    Amy,

    You write another silly post some how trying to blame Obama for who knows what??!

    No doubt the Taliban are a god awful group, particularly regarding their treatment of women.

    But, you make a couple of statements in this piece that are just ridiculous.

    So much for not negotiating with terrorists.”

    Actually, the Taliban are not terrorists per se. For example, they have never attacked the U.S. in a terrorist attack. They did harbor Al Qaeda, which is a terrorist group, large because Al Qaeda paid them. The Taliban are mostly made up of local Afghanis who are fighting to throw foreigners off their land. They do not go out in the world and commit terrorist attacks.

    Almost all credible analysts of the Afghan war say the only way to end this war is to negotiate a deal with the Taliban. There is no military solution. Bringing the Taliban into the policial process is the only way to end this. So I am not sure what your point is and why you would be against negotiating with the Taliban?

    Your big quote about all these experts saying negotiations will not work really only quotes Peter Begen saying that. In fact, Bergen is not saying negotiations are not a good idea, but he is saying they may be difficult if the Taliban thinks they are winning. Audrey Kurth Cronin who you also quote says that Mullah Omar would be difficult to deal with, but I think if you have followed developments in Afghanistan you would know that negotiations are not with Omar and the more hardcore group, but with the more moderate Taliban, the farmers and Afghanis who are just fighting for their homeland and local tribal areas.

    Here this explains it. This is from a credible analyst:

    “Which Taliban leaders are the United States talking to? And who is not going to be part of these talks?
     
    The United States [needs] to identify not only who on the Taliban side might be willing to participate, but also who besides Mullah Omar really has a record of culpability for terrorism or anti-American violence that essentially disqualifies them. That’s a judgment that the United States would have to make after figuring out who, if anyone, is really willing to participate in a serious way. There would be at least some U.S. officials who would judge that there are leading Taliban personalities besides Mullah Omar who might be out of bounds to participate in such a negotiation. But of course, the Afghan government may have its own view about who it is willing to talk to, and American policy presumes that the Afghans have the leading voice in this political tract.”

    http://www.cfr.org/afghanistan/gauging-us-taliban-talks/p24214

    And also from the article you quote:

    “A senior Pakistani diplomat said: “The US needs to be negotiating with the Taliban; those Taliban with no links to al-Qaida. We need a power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan, and it will have to be negotiated with all the parties.”

    So what is the point of your post? Are you suggesting that the reason the U.S. is in a war in Afghanistan is because we are fighting for women’s rights in that country so we should not be negotiating with the Taliban and this somehow reflects badly on Obama? Although fighting for Afghan women’s rights would be admirable, I do not think many Americans would support an invasion, a continued war and occupation in Afghanistan in order to fight for an improve women’s rights in that country.

    Amy, why don’t you sign-up with the military and go over to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban so you can support women in that country?

    By the way, Amy, what is your solution to Afghanistan and with improving the conditions of women in that country? Easy to bitch and complain from your soapbox, but entirely different to actually have to solve a very difficult problem, which Obama inherited from Bush.

  • Cindy

    EllenD—-I know what you’re saying and that mandated killings are horrendous….but please reflect, if you will, on the fact that Americans are conditioned to not be bothered that much or offended by the gender-cide going on in this country right under our noses. 
     We’re conditioned to ignore what’s going on here as “not as bad as” other places and point to third world countries and yell “Look at the horror”.  
    If a young woman has been killed by her husband or boyfriend, because she IS a woman, does it matter to the family if the killing was mandated by law? The girl is still dead  just because she is a girl.  That is horror beyond words.
    So, I’ll tweak John Donne’s powerful statement to say each woman’s death diminishes me…...for if a woman is killed because of her gender, in my opinion, whether or not she was killed because of mandated law is the last  thing on my mind. It’s grieves me and affects me the same. I know it grieves you, as well, because you’re a caring person.

  • Cindy

    EllenD—-I know what you’re saying and that mandated killings are horrendous….but Americans are conditioned to not be bothered or offended by the gender-cide going on in this country right under our noses.  We’re conditioned to ignore what’s going on here as “not that bad” and point to third world countries and yell “Look at the horror”.
    If a young woman has been killed by her husband or boyfriend, does it matter to the family if the killing was mandated by law? The girl is still dead  just because she is a girl.  That is horror beyond words.

  • EllenD

    Hey, I agree about subtle discrimination and domestic violence here, but CODIFIED MANDATED-BY-LAW killing and maiming women is way different. That horror goes beyond words and runs right off the scale as far as I am concerned.

  • EllenD

    If you looked at my post. +, you would see I advocate REMOVING any women and children that declare themselves refugees and giving them sanctuary,.
    I do not think it is possible to convince some men to treat THEIR women (a telling term) properly, just as I don’t think it is possible to convince you that women don’t belong to anyone as property.

    BTW – we have Hasidic Jews in the US.One was a contractor for me and his wife was free to go wherever she wanted. She brought the kids to my house to play. Last I looked they obeyed US law which is nothing like the Taliban’s laws.

  • Diana L. C.

    RRRA,

    Thanks (I guess) for another very disturbing post.  When I begin to think about issues regarding the treatment of women in the world, I become so angry, depressed, frustrated, etc…… 

    I always have to force myself to read your posts on women because I know it’s my duty to stay informed.  I just end up terribly depressed afterwards.

    I will NOT be happy until the U.S.’s official position is that we do not engage with any country politically or economically unless women have the same freedom as men in those countries.  I would also add that we should not even include a country as an ally if they engage with the countries that do not protect women’s rights.  Our foreign aide during disasters should also be given under the restriction that women and children must receive the benefit of the aid equally with men or they don’t get it at all.

    I am becoming a total isolationist I guess, but in a way these demands might then require that we get our own act in order in regard to the treatment of women.

    Bronwyn, thanks for keeping my psyche safe from he/she who can not write in complete equations.

  • JB in VA

    This is what gets me, too.  It’s like she’s regressed to that point before NH in the primaries, when she kept listening to idiot men like Mark Penn and kept losing primaries, until she got rid of them,  started being her own super self and from that point on was winning big. 

    Once again, she is abandoning her own best instincts and smartest ideas and listening to the idiot men again.  Why do strong women in a position to really make a difference run the other way instead?  It just makes me sick. 

  • JB in VA

    Many thanks again, RRRA, for posting on this and related issues.

    We like to think life is gradually improving for more and more folks, but it’s clear that for women in the Islamic world things have deteriorated markedly over the last 2 recent decades, often helped along by US policy (Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt) – despite our having 3 strong women as SoS in recent decades.  It really makes you wonder what the hell is going on? Why aren’t these women who are in a position to do something DOING SOMETHING?

    You would think that when a government’s policies severely adversely affect 1/2 of the population — thereby severely adversely affecting the next generation and EVERY SINGLE MEASURE of economic growth and quality of life, thereby making the growth and nurture of terrorism infinitely more likely to arise in those countries — you would think that the US and the West generally would move heaven and earth to topple that government and introduce sanity.  Hell, we topple governments all the time, for far less reason. 

    WTF is going on?

  • TeakWoodKite

    Thanks Cindy tomorrows reading.

  • Cindy

    (taken from swissinfo.ch website) Legislation has made progress. Since 2004 domestic violence is no longer considered a private matter but an indictable offence.

    “The most dangerous place for a woman is her own home,” said Cécile Bühlmann, head of the feminist peace organisation, cfd.

    But experts say there are still problems carrying out the law. “Around three quarters of the proceedings started are shelved by the public prosecutor’s office,” Karin Haeberli, co-director of the Basel City cantonal services against domestic violence, told swissinfo.ch.

    “Being an indictable offence has not improved the situation,” she added.

    According to Haeberli, there are enormous differences in how Switzerland’s 26 different cantons apply the law. For example, she says, handing out restraining orders for perpetrators of violence, which has been possible since 2007, has been adopted by “65 per cent of police in the canton of Zurich and by 14 per cent in Basel City

    TEAK—THREE QUARTERS OF PROCEEDINGS ARE SHELVED! So much for laws to enforce violence against women in Switzerland.

  • Cindy

    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/Specials/Gun_debate/Background/Archives/Why_is_Switzerland_prone_to_family_killings.html?cid=5160504

    Teak—here’s one site—it’s really shocking, because their stats are 3 times highter than the US, as far as men killing wives/partners.

  • oowawa

    Maybe we should start by liberating the Amish women.  I hear they don’t even get to have electric dishwashers!  Yeah, let’s start by cleaning out women’s abuses in our own backyard and send the Marines to Pennsylvania!  The Taliban will learn to fear us!

  • helenk

    when you sup with the devil use an extra long spoon.

    there is no bargaining with zealots who are afraid of half the population of the world. They use abuse to make themselves feel like men.

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE CHATTERING PEOPLE RULE

  • TeakWoodKite

    THANK YOU! And yes it very difficult for BS to go un-answered….

  • TeakWoodKite

    “We are now suppose the be the world cop for woman’s rights”

    Oh no. The symbol with a ceralbox diploma from a mail-order mill, is objecting to the most germane concept this republic stands for. Liberty.

    “Polgomyists”?  in Utah? Send the US Military to Utah? Hell, we can even get them to the US Mexican border.

  • twistedfister13f

    You poor pathetic misguided donkey. I was shocked to learn you grazed on all four’s. Your plight has not gone unheard, I’ve sent an e-mail to peta and warned them of your situation. They are on the case and assured me that Jon Stewart will not be allowed within 500 yards of your pen. You can thank me later.

  • TeakWoodKite

    God help the beasts of burden anyway, oowawa. Me thinks Taliban men do not know the difference.

  • TeakWoodKite

    I love that country, as a tourist. I am sorry to hear about the Swiss and the plight of women in a “civil” society. But then numerically when it comes violence against women, the US is the worst, according to the UN stats.

    I have to question the UN stats, as what is reported a violence against women in this country, is considered a property crime in Islamic countries.

    If your cousin can send you some links etc I would appreciatte reading about them.
    Thanks for the post Rev. Amy.

  • Rabble Rouser Rev. Amy

    Ah, yes – I have written abt him a few times. This piece of work tries to claim HE was the victim of abuse, thus he was only defending himself when he decapitated his wife (he battered all 3 of his previous wives, and emails show him writing the typical, “I’m sorry I hit you but you made me do it” kind of crap). Unbelievable.

  • Cindy

    ~JustMe~ Oh my god…unbelievable. I’m so glad you found that story–Thank you..but how appalling!

  • Cindy

    Rev. Amy—-Oh, thank you! And safe travels.

  • ~~JustMe~~

    Plus, this moderate muslim :-  
    Founder of Islamic TV station accused of beheading wife  
     
    The founder of an upstate New York TV station aimed at countering Muslim stereotypes has been arrested on suspicion of killing his wife, who was beheaded, authorities said.  

  • ~~JustMe~~

    Plus, this moderate muslim :-
    Founder of Islamic TV station accused of beheading wife

    The founder of an upstate New York TV station aimed at countering Muslim stereotypes has been arrested on suspicion of killing his wife, who was beheaded, authorities said.

    <!– Module ends: article-header–>

  • Rabble Rouser Rev. Amy

    Sadly, you are right, Doc. At least the father who ran down his daughter in AZ was found guilty, though only in the second degree.

  • Bronwyn

    The comments by the odious + person have been eliminated …. hence your replies are now waving in the breeze.  You may want to add an additional comment to explain the basis for your original comment to +.

    I thought we had all agreed that we don’t respond to trolls.  And no sooner do I write that then i remember writing to one myself this morning!  I accused himher of drinking the Kool-Aid at Daily Kos.  Sounds like I’d better follow my own advice, eh?  It IS so damn hard not to attack these fools.

    If + reappears, let us know.

  • Rabble Rouser Rev. Amy

    Thanks so much, honestlawyer – and I appreciate your comment!

    You said it – once you start negotiating with terrorists or terrorist-supporting organizations (take your pick when it comes to the Taliban), you are starting from a position of weakness. And that is the problem with this, as I noted above. Not only do they believe despicable things abt women, and how women should be treated, but there will never be enough, you know?

  • Doc99

    Lack of Women’s rights under Shariah Law is not unique to the Taliban. We’ve had Dis-Honor Killings In The US.