Afghanistan,  Stoppers

Does Malalai Joya speak for Afghan women?

Malalai Joya, a female former member of the Afghan parliament, has won the hearts of the Stop the War Coalition and other antiwar groups around the world by calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all coalition forces from Afghanistan.

The obvious question for Joya is what would happen then. Brian Platt of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee writes:

I went to a presentation of hers on Friday afternoon [in Vancouver], and this is her message: Canadians troops need to leave now, the status of women is worse than ever, and the current government under Karzai is just as bad as the Taliban government was. There is no hope for the future until the United Nations and NATO leave Afghanistan alone. I’m not simplifying anything; that’s all she says, over and over again.

So what is Joya’s solution for Afghanistan after international soldiers leave? That’s a good question!

In fact, at the presentation she was asked what would prevent the Taliban from taking over after a NATO/UN withdrawal. Instead of answering the question, she proceeded into a long speech about how terrible the situation is right now. So I put up my hand and demanded she answer the question. This led to a long, angry exchange between the two of us that lasted about 10 minutes, at which point I was told to shut up by the “antiwar” organizers of the event.

Platt names several brave Afghan women who do not want coalition forces to leave yet.

[N]one of these women gloss over the problems Afghanistan is having. None of them are uncritical of Karzai–far from it. However, none of them are foolish enough to ask for suicide, which is what the withdrawal of international troops would mean for Afghan women on the frontlines of the struggle to achieve their constitutionally-mandated human rights.

Terry Glavin, writes:

During my many conversations with feminists and progressives in Afghanistan last year, one thing that came through loud and clear was that the “troops out now” posture so commonplace in polite society in western countries has no support among Afghan women’s leaders. What was also clear was that Joya and her backers with the so-called Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, to the extent that they are thought about at all, are regarded as faintly ridiculous and marginal characters, at best.
You want a real, brave Afghan feminist? Just one, among thousands, is Sima Samar, head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission: “Finish the job you started. It’s not just for protecting Afghanistan, or protecting Canadians. It is about the protection of humanity. This is a human responsibility. It isn’t possible to escape this kind of responsibility.”