A fervent plea to the U.S. to help women in Afghanistan
Horrific law forbids female victims from testifying against their attackers
As foreign troops pull out of Afghanistan after failed attempts to remove the Taliban there, women's groups are coming forward to ask the international community - in particular, the U.S., to not forget the struggles that women there still face.
Manizha Naderi, executive director of Women for Afghan Women says that the withdrawal of foreign troops will leave isolated Afghan women to fend for themselves.
"If a woman or child is tortured, for example if the torturer pulled out her fingernails, chopped off her nose, sank an axe into her head, or shot her in the back-actual attacks on Women for Afghan Women clients-the victim cannot testify against him (or her) if he is her relative. Nor can witnesses of these barbaric acts testify if he is their relative. Nor can doctors who treated these victims testify.
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"Nor can a child whose father sold her to some man (or forced her to marry someone 45 years older than herself) testify against her father," Naderi says.
Naderi begs the international community to rush to harsh judgment. "Please do not conclude from this that Afghanistan is a country of barbarians, and we should get out tomorrow. The real story is something very different."
Naderi says that progress on women's rights has taken place in Afghanistan. "It has taken place in a very short time given the odds against it. For example, WAW operates 28 facilities for women and children (including 10 shelters and four halfway houses) in 10 provinces.
"It's that this progress has taken place because the people want it. They beg us to open these facilities. If we had the money, we could open 10 more tomorrow."
Naderi says that the people of Afghanistan desire progress, but that troop withdrawal is hindering progress. "It's that this rollback on women's rights is occurring now because of the impending troop withdrawal.
"President Karzai and members of the Afghan parliament are telegraphing the Taliban, who are waiting to assume power: 'Hey, we never wanted this progress. We're taking it back. The women of Afghanistan, half the population, are yours to subjugate. We're smoothing your road to power, plowing it of obstructions - shelters, family guidance centers, halfway houses. Just give us a piece of the pie.'
The law's very existence is one more indication of Karzai's willingness to appease the Taliban by selling Afghan women down the river, she says.
The current conditions do not reflect the majority of Afghanis, Naderi says. It "has nothing to do with the people themselves, who have different desires - such as an honest and transparent government that is sensitive to their needs."
Appealing directly to the American people and the U.S. government, Naderi says that "negotiating with the Taliban really means approving this law and worse. It means abandoning the women of Afghanistan. The Taliban will not honor any agreement they sign. They need to subjugate women to hold the country.
She also warns that "Punishing Karzai by withdrawing all forces now will make him look like a hero to those clinging to power by any means possible BUT NOT to the majority of Afghan people.
"All the warning signs are there. Closing our eyes to them is dangerous and morally indefensible," Naderi warns.
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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