It is sad to watch, terrifying for those whose lives are now in danger, and raises questions about the country’s future, but Afghanistan – particularly with regards to women – seems to be sliding back into the dark ways of the Taliban days.
Amnesty International Australia has just received shocking news. Afghan law makers are close to passing a law that would make people who attack their women folk virtually immune to prosecution.
Oh dear. Oh dearie me. It would seem that all of the progress that Afghan women made in the last decade is about to be thrown head first out the window. For what gain? A huge rise in domestic violence, rape, murder and torture? For an increasingly big black splotch on its already abysmal human rights record?
But it is not just women who are going backwards. The Taliban, the Islamic militia that occupied much of Afghanistan in the 1990s, is alive and well. Funded by a healthy stream of profits from the narcotics trade, the militia have experienced a major revival in the last few years. Their fear of women being free is as obvious as ever with their attacks on schools for girls.
The war in Afghanistan when I first saw it start like so many others in 2001, I initially thought was a great idea. In some respects I still think it should have gone ahead, but with a blue print to train Afghan teachers, nurses, engineers and give them jobs. The majority of the rebuilding work seems to have been contracted out to companies that only wanted a fast dollar and did not give a damn about the people.
But the more I think about it, the more I remember a salient fact that my mother pointed out when we had a discussion about the war one day. She said the British could not control the country and nor could the Russians, so why therefore should we imagine that the Americans can do any better? All true I considered, but then pointed out that if the Americans had done their homework they would have learnt the lessons of the previous attempts by foreign powers to occupy Afghanistan. A decade and a bit after that conversation, I wonder just for a moment if maybe she was right.
Billions and billions of dollars were spent on the war in Afghanistan. Whilst some of it did some temporary good, the bulk seems to have been wasted either through corruption, through dodgy deals that were never going to work and through – I would be very interested to know how – impressively bad record keeping.
Maybe, just maybe – though I shudder to think where the Taliban would be by now if it had not happened – Afghanistan was never supposed to have been invaded in the first place. Certainly it does not seem to have benefitted from the American attempt at “nation building”.