Afghan President Hamid Karzai has announced that he will review the new law legalizing rape of women in the country after an international outcry. It is an act similar to the recent shock expressed by the Pakistani government after it turned over the Swat Valley to extremists and Sharia law — only to have a video surface of the flogging of a teenage girl. Karzai signed the law that requires Afghan women to “preen” for their husbands and submit to rape.
Karzai’s actions show the ridiculous pretense that surrounds our continued expenditure of lives and treasure to maintain a nation that rejects the most basic rights to citizens, particularly for women. While imposing Sharia law concepts, the government has increasingly surrendered to demands of the Taliban — defeating the enemy by joining it.
Karzai knew exactly what he was signing and only expressed concern when the Canadians threatened to withdraw troops propping up his corrupt government. For the full story, click here. This law was pending for months and repeatedly raised with Karzai.
Notably, unlike the more principled Canadians, the United States once again only offered offered verbal concerns with no threat to cut off money or troops.
Karzai stated “If there is anything that is of concern to us then we will definitely take action in consultation with our [religious clerics] and send it back to the parliament. This is something that we are also serious about and we should not allow.”
“If there is anything that is of concern”? Karzai signed a grotesque legalization of rape and pledges to look into whether there are concerns raised by the law that he signed. It is abundantly clear that it was the threat to lose money and military support — and not any concern for women — that motivated our ally. Billions of U.S. dollars (and American lives) are spent each week to support such medieval practices and to preserve a system that keep women in an uneducated and repressive state. I find it incredible that we have never had a debate over this conflict between our values and our actions in the region. While President Obama insists that the world is a stake, I thought that we are fighting for our values against such practices. If not, we need to be clear what is more important than our values. Historically, we have supported regimes that do not support basic human rights, only to lose in places like Iran and Vietnam. The result was not just our direct losses but the loss of our credibility as a nation. We look like cringing hypocrites willing to support extremist legal systems in order to advance our own insular security concerns.
It is a debate that we should have as a nation. I happen to think that there is something to fight over in Afghanistan, but it does not happen to be the thing that we are currently fighting for. I would support our nation fighting against the repression of women and the denial of basic human rights. It is propping up repressive systems for our own advantage that brings an element of shame.
For the full story, click here.