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Sunday, 5 July 2009

Afghanistan: defying the warlords

For the 31 years I’ve been alive, my country has suffered from constant war. After September 11, 2001, many of us thought that — with the overthrow of the Taliban — we might finally see some light. But we’re still faced with a foreign occupation and a government filled with warlords who are just as bad as the Taliban.
Afghan women like me, who vote and run for office, have been held up as proof that we enjoy democracy and women’s rights. It’s a lie. In Afghanistan, killing a woman is like killing a bird. We remain caged, without access to justice, and still ruled by women-hating criminals.
(...) Fundamentalists preach that “a woman should be in her house or in the grave”. In most places it’s not safe for a woman to walk on the street uncovered or without a male relative. Girls are still sold into marriage and hundreds of women have burnt themselves to death to escape their miseries.
(...) All the stops had been pulled out in Kabul for a big show of democracy, with much talk of the “new Afghanistan”. It was clear to me, however, that the old Afghanistan hadn’t gone away. Some of the warlord delegates to the loya jirga were among the worst abusers of human rights that our country had ever known. And they were seated in the first row. Nor did anyone seem to mind the presence of Abdul Rab al-Rasul Sayyaf, the man who had invited Osama Bin Laden to Afghanistan and trained Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. 
Malalai Joya, 31-years-old, the youngest MP in Afghan Parliament, speaks about her life with the Islamic fundamentalists.

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