[Trigger Warning for the image and the story of brutality against women]
This week’s TIME magazine has what one would call a “shocking” picture on the front. An important picture. I am glad they chose to put it there. The managing editor explains why they chose this image in a short but concise piece. At the beginning, he explains the image (which describes an act that took place LAST year, when US troops were running all over Afghanistan – not back in the pre-9/11 days when the Taliban were in charge):
It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced by a Taliban commander to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws. Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years.
But here is the image of that cover with what could be called a big FAIL of internet advertising underneath:
The sponsored link under the picture says: “SHOCKING: 13″ Macbook Pro for $91.72!”
FAIL, TIME and sponsored links. That’s a FAIL.
An abridged version of the article that accompanies this cover picture can be found here. Here is a choice quote:
This didn’t happen 10 years ago, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It happened last year. Now hidden in a secret women’s shelter in Kabul, Aisha listens obsessively to the news. Talk that the Afghan government is considering some kind of political accommodation with the Taliban frightens her. “They are the people that did this to me,” she says, touching her damaged face. “How can we reconcile with them?”
This quote in the article, in particular, gets me: “But Afghan women fear that in the quest for a quick peace, their progress may be sidelined. “Women’s rights must not be the sacrifice by which peace is achieved,” says parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi”
And then it gets INFURIATING:
Yet that may be where negotiations are heading. The Taliban will be advocating a version of an Afghan state in line with their own conservative views, particularly on the issue of women’s rights. Already there is a growing acceptance that some concessions to the Taliban are inevitable if there is to be genuine reconciliation. “You have to be realistic,” says a diplomat in Kabul. “We are not going to be sending troops and spending money forever. There will have to be a compromise, and sacrifices will have to be made.“
Yes, of course, sacrifices will have to be made. By whom? Women’s rights = “some concessions”? Being realistic means that we should we realistically get over the fact that women’s rights in Afghanistan are expendable if the issue of their rights gets in the way of us getting out of there?
Now, I am not advocating that we stay in Afghanistan forever. I’m not even saying that we should stay in Afghanistan through the end of the year. But I am advocating that whatever deal gets struck to bring this fucked up war to an end, I hope that women are part of that conversation and actually have a voice backed up by some sort of protection. I doubt it, though. I am (sadly) rather confident that they will be sacrificed, that “peace” will be trafficked through them instead of for them. There’s a long history of that all over the world.
While it is not on the same level and I don’t even want to come close to saying it is, I do want to point out that the country that is occupying Afghanistan and hoping to help reconcile the Afghan government with the Taliban, the people who cut off this girl’s nose, is the United State of America. A country that only very recently decided that comprehensive healthcare is good for all citizens EXCEPT for women. When it came time to negotiate for that right, it was women’s health that got sacrificed so that the legislation would pass.
So, the US’s recent record on women’s rights and their acceptance (sometimes eagerness) of using women to traffic deals in favor of “everybody” doesn’t look good for these Afghan women.
This blog post will definitely be tagged as “On US Imperialism.”