It is common for those groping for reasons to justify Operation Enduring Fiefdom to invoke the subjugation of women. Without the American presence in Afghanistan, so goes the argument, Afghan women would suffer.
Problem is, those women are suffering now. While the Taliban and their associates are indeed veritable knuckledraggers in their attitudes toward women, so too are the men who today govern Afghanistan . . . with American support.
On June 29 BBC Newsnight broadcast Lyse Doucet’s film on Badam Bagh, a prison for women in Kabul. There, hundreds of Afghan women have been jailed because of their “bad character”—for “moral crimes.”
Here, briefly, is the story of one such woman, Sabera, who is sixteen years old.
“I was about to get engaged, and the boy came to ask me himself, before sending his parents. A lady in our neighbourhood saw us, and called the police,” she explains.
She was sentenced to three years but, in an act of mercy, it was shortened to 18 months.
Even the director of the prison, Zarafshana, acknowledges that “[i]f these women were treated with justice, I don’t think fifty percent of them would be in here. They are here because of problems in the family or personal vendettas.”
Many of these women have been interned because they fled their homes to escape physical violence inflicted by their husbands or male blood relatives. In today’s Afghanistan, it is a crime, apparently, to do anything other than just stay home, and take it.