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Statement on Afghanistan from FEMINIST DISSENT (UK)

Friday 31 December 2021, by siawi3

Source: Feminist Dissent

29 december 2021 om 19:39:07 CET

Statement on Afghanistan from FEMINIST DISSENT (UK)

Feminist Dissent is a collective who create a journal (based at the University of Warwick, UK) « Feminist Dissent brings together innovative and critical insights to enhance our understanding of the relationship between gender, fundamentalism and related socio-political issues. It aims to fill a gap in the existing literature by creating space to interrogate the multi-faceted links between historical and resurgent religious fundamentalism and gender. It further aims to open up new ways of thinking about secularism, religious freedom, civil liberties and human rights, nationalism and identity politics, anti-racism and multiculturalism, neoliberalism, and feminist resistance. »

On the situation in Afghanistan I don’t know of an any more Afghan women centered analysis within the context of the region and the new challenges the return of the Talibans brings.

« As these examples show, it is necessary to fight every iteration of fundamentalism. Our analysis is drawn from the work of feminists and secular human rights advocates working in the region who have long and deep experiences of fighting against blasphemy laws, genocide and their connection with the oppression of women. We also draw inspiration from the many struggles for freedom fought against colonialism in the past, which established secular, multi-religious and multi-ethnic states in which women were able to emancipate themselves. For decades the descendants of these liberation struggles, principally women’s rights activists, from countries such as Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sudan warned of the dangers of fundamentalism, while criticizing the failings of their own governments.

We have always been deeply opposed to the idea that a truly sovereign state can be built through foreign intervention and a world order that destroys the ability of governments to make sovereign decisions. It is now very clear that the war economy the NATO intervention has built has been one that attracted criminal enterprise, the vast bulk of which is the bonanza to the contractors of the occupiers. However we would also add that the defeat of humanitarian intervention is no cause for celebration when it has simply been replaced with an older model of indirect rule. In this case, it is the marriage of puritanical religious fundamentalism with the neo-liberal thievery of the kleptocratic state. The chief beneficiaries of this new settlement, apart from the Pakistani state, are likely to be China, Russia and Iran. As Karima Bennoune has warned that governments who think they can live with a ‘‘Pax Taliban’ have made a grave error.

To those who ask, what was the point? we say that in spite of the many difficulties for Afghans in working alongside both occupiers and insurgents, frequently ignored by one and targeted by the other, the NATO intervention created a breathing space. Refugees returned, girls and boys were educated and an entire generation developed a flourishing civil society in every area of achievement, from robotics to football, to a courageous independent media. Women played a key role in development, including polio vaccinations and in response to the COVID crisis.

However, far from ‘saving Afghan women’, much of the counter-terror responses of the NATO forces focused on deals with war lords and promoting jirgas reinforcing patriarchal institutions as stabilising forces. In contrast, women went to work, negotiated anti-violence legislation and worked in the health sector to reduce maternal mortality. These developments were supported by friendly regional governments such as India and Bangladesh, as it was never simply Westerners who were the self-styled ‘saviours’ of Afghan women. It was supremely an Afghan effort, a women’s effort to rebuild their society, in the midst of continuing war and occupation.

Millions have been spent on projects to ‘reform Islam’, embraced by Western academics who have declared secularism and universalism to be Western imperial projects. Our history tells us otherwise. The fact is that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reflects the language and aspirations of women who opposed Nazism, racism and colonialism. In more recent times, survivors of genocide and sexual slavery advocated to recognise mass violence against women, including rape and forced pregnancy, as international crimes. The preamble to the Indian Constitution has rallied Muslim women for their right to citizenship. In Sudan, women have overthrown the regime of Bashir, a hero of the Muslim Brotherhood, wanted for genocide but not arrested until the women’s revolution. Kurdish women – without even a state to call their own – are trying to build an egalitarian society in the middle of a war, and their armed resistance helped to stop the genocide of the Yazidis. Active and successful resistance to fundamentalism is everywhere.

In the bitter times to come, we hope that the memories of their achievement and the possibility of building another Afghanistan will sustain Afghan women. We will not turn away from those who remain to continue their work, or those forced into exile. We stand with you, in Afghanistan and abroad. Your struggle is our struggle. We say to you, ‘Fear is their weapon, courage is yours.’

Calls for Action

We are deeply concerned about the plight of feminists, atheists, human rights defenders, dissident artists as well as all ordinary Afghans who oppose the rule by the Taliban or who are caught in the disastrous vortex of events in the wake of the withdrawal by the US and Western powers.

We urge charities to provide assistance with emergency housing and with legal help for settlement.

We urge social movements to think creatively about the ways in which they can continue to support Afghans, whether inside or outside Afghanistan. For those seeking refuge away from Afghanistan, sponsorships, places in educational institutions and job offers, should be put together with urgency.

We also call on the Left and feminists to think again about the meaning of our important traditions of internationalism and that these cannot simply celebrate the defeat of US-UK policies, but need to urgently face the reality of what is happening in Afghanistan, and think through the significance of this for our theory and political practice.

We urge governments to open their countries to the refugees from Afghanistan, and to assist all those who are desperate to leave with emergency visas and plans for safe passage. »

Rachel Wareham, Yolande Geadah, Rachad Antonius, Jeremy Wildeman, Louise Turcotte, Andrée Côté, Joanne Doucet, Lucie Lemonde, Isabelle Solon Helal, Djemila Benhabib, Pal Hasan, Pierrot Péladeau, Rashida Manjoo, Yakin Erturk, Olea Oliva, Ahlem Belhadj, Chekir Hafidha, Deniz Kandiyoti, Kheira Dekali, Cherifa Kheddar, Katherine Lippel, Lucie Lamarche, Amina Mamaa, Kaari Murungi, Elahe Amani, Ana Irani, Ana Valdes, Ana Maria Enriquez, Edna Aquino