Photo Credit: ASIA NEWS 2011
In the hours since we have learned that the Taliban insurgents have made rapid advances across Afghanistan, the western world cringes at what may become of the Afghan women.
In the last 20 years, the women of Afghanistan have made gains advancing them out of heinous oppression. The dark days of the Taliban they thought were behind them. Progress was made in women's health, education, employment. Now, it will all change.
As reported in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, August 12, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/afghans-tell-of-executions-forced-marriages-in-taliban-held-areas-11628780820 the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said Thursday that it had received reports of the Taliban executing members of the Afghan military who had surrounded. In addition Taliban commanders have demanded that communities turn over unmarried young women to become "wives" for their fighters - a form of sexual violence/slavery.
Afghan women have been working in the sectors of medicine, journalism, law enforcement only recently to have been attacked by the Taliban as they regain territory. No doubt the Taliban will regress freedom at all levels for the women of Afghanistan. Women and children are, and will, suffer the most.
During Taliban rule from 1996-2001, Afghan women were subjected to severe restrictions including being banned from working outside the home, and could only appear in public with a close male relative.
Almost a million Afghanistans have been displaced in the last few months, according to estimates from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and 70 percent of the displaced are women and children.
With the upcoming 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is important to remember how we got here:
In the 1980's, the U.S. supported the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) in a proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. When the Soviet Union withdrew and the government subsequently collapsed in 1989, the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan, ending humanitarian support. The mujahideen fought amongst themselves over control of the country. During the civil war, more Afghanis were killed, cities were destroyed, and women tortured.
The Taliban emerged from the fighting, taking power in Kandahar in 1994, Herto 1995, and Kabul 1996. Under the Taliban, Afghanistan became a training camp for terrorism and a safe haven for al Qaeda and Bin Laden.
The women, and Afghanistan as a nation, now have so much to lose. Why now was is a time to withdraw still unknown. Today, Saturday, August 15, 2001, President Biden is sending in 8000 American troops to take out 2,500 U.S. personnel out of Afghanistan. Likely, the U.S. will also remove as many Afghanistan citizens as possible relocating them to Qatar refugee camps.
I believe, as a former global security analyst, broadcaster, commentator that President Biden should reconsider the full withdrawal of troops. Doing so has grave implications on the United States security interests, as well as human rights concerns of Afghan women and children.
More on this story in the hours, and days, to come.
Lisa Pandone Benson
Senior Commentator, The Queen Esther Project.org