Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A New Force for Afghanistan

Even as the U.S. buildup in Afghanistan continues, commentators are looking forward to next July 1st, when the withdrawal of American combat troops is scheduled to begin. Given the continuing and even increasing threat posed by the Taliban, there have been a number of stories on the way that women's rights have advanced in the country since 2001, and how they are threatened by the Taliban. Katie Couric did, I think, two stories when she was in Afghanistan recently. Time magazine ran a cover story that showed--on that cover--a beautiful young woman whose nose had been cut off by her husband in a fit of anger--a typical punishment in the traditional society.

Should we keep troops in Afghanistan longer than we would otherwise, because we believe in women's rights? Will we do women an injustice by withdrawing? These are complicated issues, and people of good will may be on all sides.

But I have an idea on how we can help women in Afghanistan to help themselves: Arm them! Let women form militias. Let them fight the Taliban. Women have fought in resistance movements for many years. More and more armies let women fight in combat; the United States does, even though our laws still formally forbid it. Let Afghan women fight for their rights.

And nothing will advance women's rights in Afghanistan faster than letting them face their abusers and would-be abusers with guns in their hands.


Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper said...

Is this how you can have both guns and noses?

That's a cheap shot I guess, but the notion of arming the women as a way to save their noses, metaphorically and literally speaking startled me.

Then again, why not, if that means women in the Afghanistan military?

But all female militias? Now that would be a frightening force. It's the Taliban's worst nightmare, and the root of all Taliban constraints against women.

The Old New Englander said...

The Taliban's worst nightmare? Agreed, and it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

But the root of their hostility toward women? I think that long antedated the possibility of women having guns.