The Brutal Story of Women in Afghanistan

13 02 2011

Mother Jones has an absolutely shattering story about a female prosecutor in Afghanistan fighting assassination attempts to prosecute men for beating their spouses.

The viscerally grossest part of gender discrimination is that it begins in the family, by parents. Fathers, mothers, and grandparents all contribute to various forms of conditioning, conforming their kids to certain roles and behaviors. Of course this isn’t limited to girls, but the difference is that in extremely patriarchal societies, this extends past childhood–daughters remain “fictional children” until another man claims them. The fact that this authority extends into adulthood means that the structure of the family reaches into civil society–thus, just the one female prosecutor in all of Afghanistan.

No society is free of this problem, but there can’t be any reasonable objection to the claim that the phenomenon is significantly weaker in “the West” and other advanced industrial societies.

This is what I mean: in Afghanistan, the only means of protest available to many women is self-immolation.

At the bottom of the power structure, they don’t have control over anything but their physical body, and even that only in the literal sense. It defies the imagination, a predicament so desperate, so frustrating, so absolutely brutal and devoid of any love or support, that you would not even merely take your own life–but do so as a form semi-public protest in the most painful way imaginable.

This is an absolutely intolerable state of affairs.


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