What's Hard to Look At - TIME
The TIME cover features a young woman who had her ears and nose cut off by the Taliban for escaping an abusive husband. She is the reason, TIME says, we are fighting in Afghanistan and the reason why we must continue to do so. Maybe, maybe not.
There is no doubt that Afghani women and girls are under enormous threat by a horrific, patriarchal and oppressive society. But I'm also pretty sure that global women's rights have never been a big driver in US foreign policy. (Or we'd have ratified CEDAW by now, at least.)
But we can't ignore women and girls like Aisha. We can't ignore that they are deliberately kept uneducated; they are deliberately physically and sexually assaulted; they are terrorized by a socio-political crisis, one that is fostered and perpetuated by men - U.S men, Afghan men. other men. Men.
What to do for these women?
A few weeks ago, watching a movie about the Iraq and Afghanistan war, my anger toward all war-mongering men on this planet reached such a point I think I became slightly insane.
Turning to my friend, I said, 'You know what we should do? We should just airlift all the women and children out of Afghanistan and leave that fucking country to implode. Build a virtual wall around it and let it die. Countries that treat their women like this don't get to have us. When you're a barbarian, raping, killing and torturing women like animals, you don't get to have mothers, sisters, or children! Afghanistan, Sudan, Darfur, Rwanda, wherever. You don't get to have women in your country when you kill them!'
When a country is on the edge of collapse, when infrastructure has been destroyed, when the effort to have an educated and modern society has failed, when it's clear that the crazies have taken control - don't we have an obligation to save those who are being oppressed by giving them an avenue for escape? Why trap these women there? Yes, yes, yes. It's their home. But their home is literally killing them.
I won't pretend that a gender-based diaspora is a viable foreign policy solution.
Nor is it very politically correct.
I'm also positive that there's a huge whiff of western imperialism inherent in the idea.
But as a woman - as a woman who sees her global sisters being massacred by MEN - I can't help but feel desperate anger. During slavery, we had the Underground Railroad. Abolitionists saved slaves by getting them away from the plantations. They didn't wait until the slave-owner miraculously changed their mind. Today, we are seeing a global crisis of violence against women - don't women require a similar and yet extraordinary rescue effort?