Saturday, March 10, 2012

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan. Men Are Fundamental, Women Secondary.

So Islamic religious scholars, all men, tell Afghan women:
The Afghan government was ‘too busy' for International Women's Day on March 8th, so it postponed official acknowledgement until the 11th. It was not a great moment to celebrate, anyway. A week earlier a council of religious scholars - the Ulema Council - published guidance that declared "men are fundamental and women are secondary."  It called for women to travel with mahrams (male escorts), and to avoid mixing with men in offices, markets and educational facilities. The statement also said that beating a woman is only permissible with a "Shariah-compliant reason."
The Council's edicts have no legal standing, and were not unprecedented from this conservative body. What was more troubling was that the Office of the President published the statement, and President Hamid Karzai appeared to endorse it, by telling reporters that it was "in accordance with a Sharia view of our country, which all Muslims and Afghans are committed to."  With women activists already anxious about the potential impact of deals with the Taliban, Karzai's words served as a sobering reminder of his poor track record on women's rights. 

That's all cleared up then.

The rest of the linked article has a few spots of light among all the horrors:
After the Ulema Council published their statement, I spoke with several women's rights activists in Kabul. They were dismayed, but immediately turned to strategizing about the most pragmatic means of responding. Afghanistan now has a generation of women activists who have earned a quiet confidence born of successive achievements.  But if a deal with the Taliban is to avoid dramatically shrinking their space, it will require leadership from a president with the courage to recognize them as his equals.
These events in Afghanistan show an extremely condensed and explicit form of a particular prejudice, the idea of women as the second sex, the helpmeet sex, the sex which should be silent, modest, chaste and biddable. But a kinder and gentler form of that same prejudice is well and alive among all religious fundamentalists.

Heh. I only just realized that they might be called religious fundamentalists because they believe men are the fundamental sex!