23

So what do we do now?


 

March 31If these reports are true, this will create serious problems for Canada,” said International Trade Minister Stockwell Day. “The onus is on the government of Afghanistan to live up to its responsibilities for human rights, absolutely including rights of women … If there’s any wavering on this point from the government of Afghanistan, this will create serious problems and be a serious disappointment for us.”

April 1. Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he will use this week’s NATO summit to put “direct” pressure on his Afghan counterparts to abandon the legislation. “That’s unacceptable — period,” he said Wednesday. “We’re fighting for values that include equality and women’s rights. This sort of legislation won’t fly.”

April 2Immigration MInister Jason Kenney reiterated the government’s deep concern about the law, but he did not raise the spectre of holding back aid money. Instead, he said the government plans to use its “significant influence” with the Karzai government. “Obviously our men and women [of the Canadian Forces] have been in Afghanistan to defend human rights and that includes women’s rights. And we intend to use it in every way possible to ask that the right of women be protected,” Kenney said.

April 2“We haven’t had a chance yet to talk with the other ministers, so we haven’t made any decisions or had any discussions on next steps,” International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said. “It’s very problematic. It’s a great concern and it is going to be a difficulty for Canada.”

April 4“The involvement in the international community, and particularly Canada and our NATO allies, is based on the pursuit of very fundamental values in opposition to the kinds of values the Taliban stood for,” Harper told a news conference … “If we drift from that, there will be a clear diminishment in allied support for this venture,” Harper said.

April 6Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says he has been assured by the Afghan government that it will remove “contentious clauses” from a proposed law that critics say legalizes marital rape. Cannon said he spoke to the Afghan foreign minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, on Sunday. “He reassured me that the law will not be implemented as it stands now, the more contentious parts of the law have been taken out, and the minister of justice in Afghanistan has the obligation to rewrite the law,” Cannon told CTV Newsnet’s Power Play.

TodayBowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families. Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.”


 

So what do we do now?

  1. Either abandon Afghans to the backwards hell so many of them seem to enjoy; or, start over at square one and shoot a large number of the new set of medieval theocrats, just like the previous ones. Anything else is just haggling over the wording of the Acceptable Circumstances of Rape Act.

    • Well, Karzai himself signed this into law, selling out the Afghan women apparently to secure the Shia vote in the upcoming elections.

      This is unacceptable. Karzai must go. Only question is, is there anybody on the horizon that has the wherewithall to fix this?

      I really hope our government (and others) take a stand against this.

      • "Only question is, is there anybody on the horizon that has the wherewithall to fix this?

        No.

        "I really hope our government (and others) take a stand against this. "

        There will be some strong blustery talking points, for sure. I can picture the photo-op now: Harper standing on a baby seal he's just strangled with his bare arms, a piece of seal heart poised to enter his big mouth, blood dripping from his hands, loudly proclaiming his outrage at this barbaric law.

  2. The way to fight bad ideas is with good ideas. In this case the populace have to be convinced that women have the same inalienable rights men have: rights that do not depend on the will of men, because they come from an authority higher than men.

    These ideas may not be compatible with the prevailing religious beliefs in the area. They may also not be compatible with the prevailing religious non-beliefs in Canada. But they are the only way to ensure that people are treated as sparks of the divine irrespective of riches, sex, race, power, intelligence, or disabilities.

  3. As many Afghan women have pointed out, these are cultural atrocities, not religious doctrines — namely the culture of patriarchy. Male entitlement/domination is a lot stronger than religion. It has warped Christianity, too.

  4. And I say we should leave, but I've been saying that all along, like we shouldn't have gone there in the first place. It was never about liberating women or bettering the lives of the people or setting up democracy, etc. etc. Those were cover, in order to sell the mission to Canadians. It was always about appeasing the US. Bush even gloated on record about how he conned NATO into exceeding its mandate so he could redeploy US forces to Iraq. Take a look at this recent McClatchy article: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/117/story/73694.html?s… "The Canadians are bitter about their role."

    • Exactly. All about appeasing the US.

      Unfortunately a lot of well meaning Canadian soldiers and aid/development workers have invested in the social mission and will be greatly disillusioned when it finally comes to a cynical, unsatisfactory end. And the "support our troops" crowd will disappear when it comes time to fund the counselling and psychiatric abnd resettlement services required to mitigate the damages that ensue from fighting an ambiguous war against an invisible enemy for what turns out to be a whole lot of real politik and not much else.

      • plus one billion.

  5. I figure we have far more "pull" convincing our Afghan friends that the twenty-first century is an ok concept by actually, you know, being there kicking Afghan enemy butt. I suspect our capacity for outrage fails to influence much anymore. So, Canada, whaddya gonna do about it, threaten to pull out? Oh, wait, you're halfway out the door now…

    • "…kicking Afghan enemy butt."

      Which enemy? I can't keep track.

    • But we apply the blanket term 'Taliban' to what are actually local groupings of Pashtuns, who only want us to leave their country — and take with us the puppet Karzai government. They aren't the "Afghan enemy,' they're Afghans.

  6. Damned if you do – damned if you don't…
    whether our influence is more effective fighting to support this government – with its lies and manipulation – or pulling out and letting it fall and be replaced with a devil we don't know…
    the options aren't wonderful – are they?

    • Pretty much, on the one hand, if the government is going to continue to be so repressive why are we there? (especially when one considers the fact the rights of women/children has been a central part of the pro-Afghanistan discourse – myself included FWIW). On the other hand, is this not exactly the type of thing we have to stay there and pressure the government to change? It will be very interesting too see the reaction to this from the government and the Opposition. Hopefully Aaron can link to the Canadian stories on the matter when they break.

      • The options are horrendous. A friend – a Saudi-American woman – cofounded from the US an NGO http://www.sharbatgula.org – aimed at providing help to women in repressed regimes like Afghanistan. Went back to live in Saudi with her then husband and kids 2 years ago. Ironically – husband's family clamped down on him (and her activism) – he divorced her – then took her children away. She and all her kids (three by him – she was widowed before but has another son by first husband) have American passports – but US State Dept. seems to be doing nothing to aid her. Ironic – Eh?

        • It's interesting to consider the comparison to Iraq. With the war in Iraq, resistance skyrocketed (and rightfully so)when it became clear that the war was being fought under false pretences and there were no WMD's that were a threat to the US. The humanitarian issues seemed to fall by the wayside and were never really a factor in terms of galvanizing public support for the war there. Conversely, the Afghan conflict had initially gained broad public support because of the security threat the Taliban posed, yet it is these humanitarian issues which seem to be a key factor in swinging public opinion. When this issue initially broke in the spring, there was a large amount of resistance with many supporters indicating a law like this would be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, even if serious security issues remain.

          • When the WMD issue started to look thin (the inspectors hadn't found anything) there was a sudden switch to bringing democracy to Iraq, toppling the dictator (former US ally, who now threatened to nationalize Iraq's oil) in the last weeks before the invasion. Humanitarian issues weren't emphasized because they were caused by the decade of sanctions in the first place. Before the US destroyed it, Iraq was actually a secular, relatively prosperous country with the best educational system in the region and broadly accepted female participation, especially in the professions. Women dressed as they wished. All that was irrelevant to the plan to build bases and control oil. What with all the depleted uranium left behind, the goal of population destruction may still be achieved.

          • I agree with your analysis of how the mission was sold by the US government. However, resistance to that conflict seems to have always been rooted in the notion that Iraq was not a security threat, whereas at least in Canada, resistance of late seems to have a lot to do with the lack of progress from a humanitarian perspective. Also, the point you raise about pre-US involvement Iraq makes some sense, however I would not the US – and the international community in some instances – has never been afraid of either hypocrisy or irony, so I don't think that's really what stopped the message from being about humanitarian issues. They played the fear mongering card to a populice that had been attacked and was still in somewhat of a state of shock over it – probably another factor in the vociferous reaction to the news that WMD's were non-existant was that the government had played on the very real, and understandable insecurities of the citizens.

          • Well said. I especially like: "the US – and the international community in some instances – has never been afraid of either hypocrisy or irony."

          • I agree with your analysis of how the mission was sold by the US government. However, resistance to that conflict seems to have always been rooted in the notion that Iraq was not a security threat, whereas at least in Canada, resistance of late seems to have a lot to do with the lack of progress from a humanitarian perspective. Also, the point you raise about pre-US involvement Iraq makes some sense, however the US – and the international community in some instances – has never been afraid of either hypocrisy or irony, so I don't think that's really what stopped the message from being about humanitarian issues. They played the fear mongering card to a populice that had been attacked and was still in somewhat of a state of shock over it – probably another factor in the vociferous reaction to the news that WMD's were non-existant was that the government had played on the very real, and understandable insecurities of the citizens.

    • If only somebody could have predicted that an invasion of Afghanistan would lead to a no-win quagmire.

      • It was predicted, but those who gave warning were dismissed in the manufactured heat of the moment. Not only predicted, but prefigured: ask the Brits and Russia about the 'Graveyard of Empires.' But back of all of this is Afghanistan as pipeline corridor, in an 'east-west' competition with The Shanghai Cooperation Organization plus Iran.

  7. Obviously we must focus on a greater military committment that will not actually address the problem, same as it hasn't been addressing it since the first Canadian soldier set foot on the sand there. Wait for it – "These terrible atrocities show that we must not withdraw from Afghanistan, as we promised the Canadian people…"

  8. I have to agree with avr, probably for the first time ever.

    Most definitely, we get the hell out of there–my only suggestion is to announce through whatever underground communications network these women have that they will be welcome to join us in said leaving. We'll have to expropriate a few Air Canada jets, and then there's the horrendous nightmare of finding somewhere for them all when we get back home, but sadly so many of them will be unable to make it to the deployment point that it would be feasible to take those that can.

Sign in to comment.