In 2007 when the Tehrik-e-Taliban forces marched into the town of Swat, the rest of Pakistan watched, aghast and unbelieving. The town was very popular as a tourist destination, its verdant foothills studded with picturesque dwellings: a lush and cool getaway from the sun-baked plains of the rest of the country. Within days signs appeared [...]
On November 18, 2001, in a radio address to the nation, then-First Lady Barbara Bush condemned the degrading treatment imposed on Afghan women by the Taliban regime. Thus the story of the U.S invasion of Afghanistan began with women: the promises of liberating them, the efforts to gain their trust and to feed their malnourished [...]
On July 19, Hina Rabbani Khar was sworn in as Pakistan’s youngest and first-ever woman foreign minister. It seemed like welcome news from a beleaguered country whose name evokes visions of misogyny and repression: bearded Taliban burning girls’ schools, rape laws that punish victims instead of perpetrators and women killed by fathers and brothers in pursuit [...]
Motherhood is often imagined as a natural state for women, a return to some authentic self that is believed to lie at the core of every woman. In patriarchal societies, writing is rebellion, the woman writer a selfish being willfully defying the image of woman as inherently maternal. What then, is a writer–Turkish and female–to [...]
In 1995, Irma Medrano fled El Salvador after being subject to horrible abuse at the hands of her husband. For years he had routinely beaten her, strangled her with a leather belt and threatened to kill her. Every time she complained to the Salvadoran police she was told that they would not intervene in a [...]
Much has been said about Imam Abdul Rauf, the Imam behind the proposed Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center in New York City, which would stand a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks nine years ago today. In the intense controversy surrounding the construction of the community center, he has been called a [...]
As Pakistan’s flood crisis continues into its fourth week, it is the women who are suffering the most. Millions displaced by the flood waters languish with few resources to alleviate their suffering. According to statistics compiled by the Reproductive Health in Crisis Consortium, nearly 85 percent of flood survivors in camps are women [PDF]. In [...]
It is this view that perceives only nation states to be human rights abusers that must change drastically for groups like the Taliban to be held accountable for their brutality. The lack of an existing system of justice in Afghanistan means that unless international mechanisms of justice get actively involved in the situation, Afghan civilians will remain helpless before the bloodthirsty campaign of the Taliban. Women like Sanam Gul will continue to die at their hands in acts of political theatre that manipulate faith to keep a population in constant fear. Because of this Amnesty International is calling for the investigation of Taliban crimes so that they may be prosecuted for war crimes.
War is horrific, its misery recorded in lurid detail in the tragedy of Aisha’s mutilation, but the war we have waged has required taking sides. Withdrawing without a plan for safeguarding the women who chose to believe in the American promises of empowerment, however deceitfully they may have been made, is to live in denial of a tragedy in which we are roundly implicated.