Aug 20 2009

Women’s Participation Critical to Defense of Democracy in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a desperate country. Corruption robs and demoralizes the population. Human rights that are written into the Afghan constitution are mostly given lip service. President Karzai’s approval of a “marital rape law” is an abominable act of treachery to his own people, much less the international community that has sworn to stand by his struggling nation under siege from medieval killers.

The points cited above are reasons for us to stay engaged. We can’t help Afghans help themselves (or pressure the Afghan government to abolish legislation that violates the country’s own constitution) by throwing them to the wolves.

As Mark Collins of the Torch puts it, “Let’s find a perfect country to fight a war in support of.”

The Taliban thugs who threaten to amputate the limbs of those who vote the Presidential election can’t have the last word on democracy in Afghanistan. And if the tenacity of one crucial segment of the population is an indication, the locals are not going to let that happen.

Kabul Business Administration University student Farida Kawoon, 18, quoted by AFP:

There is a big difference between my mother’s generation and mine… I will vote and was very happy to be able to register as a voter. I want to participate in the election and have a say in the fate of my country and select a candidate who has the best interests of the country at heart.”

Further from the AFP report, Afghan vote offers hope of progress to women:

“Women’s groups, which have mushroomed in recent years, have launched a campaign to get five million women — of a total of 17 million registered voters — out to polling booths on August 20.

“Of the 41 candidates for president, two are women; eight of the 82 vice-presidential candidates are women; and 328, or more than 10 percent, of the 3,196 candidates for provincial seats are women.”

Clearly, none of this would be happening if the Taliban were still in chage. But will the women outside the big cities really get the chance to vote? It would be beyond tragic if this latest expression of democracy is sabotaged more by cultural behaviors and poor organization than by violence.

Courage.

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