And now we are to put the most vulnerable women of our society fully in the hands of the government?
17.02.2011 § Leave a comment
Powerful letter from women in Afghanistan against the recent move of gvernment to take control of womens’ shelters, thereby capitulating that much more easily to pressure to ‘send women back’ to abusive situations, the full of which you can find HERE.
It’s hard to know whats ‘really’ going on over such distance, and it is on a UN site, but pace many feminists, the state as necessary patriarchal institutino, etc, is a basic premise and conclusion of this letter…
To The Gatekeepers of Women’s Honor: an Open Letter from the Women of Afghanistan
This is not the first time we have gathered here. These walls, this table, this stove, this teapot – how often they have witnessed our gatherings, our frustrations, our stresses. How often they have welcomed this group of frustrated women friends, activists, and allies. How often they have heard us unload the same concerns: how fragile have been our gains, how meaningless have been the laws we’ve fought to have passed, how useless have been the policies we struggled to see implemented in this land where there is no belief in women’s rights. Where a woman’s position in society is considered a mere extension of her role in her family and tribe, and where ethics and beliefs are exclusively understood through a masculine definition, for which women pay the price every day.
Today, the latest blow: women’s shelters. Let us recall the story. First, an uncredible media related to power circle report falsely decries women’s shelters as dens of prostitution and immorality. In response, the government creates a Commission of high level officials – none of them experts, none of them shelter managers, none of them having ever lived in a shelter – to assess the situation. They produce a biased and incomplete report, without discussing their findings with the shelters themselves or the experts and organizations who support them.
We, the women activists, are now accused by the government of having dis-honoured the national pride of the country by publicly exposing the egregious and often humiliating violations of rights that women are exposed to. This, they said, shames us in the eyes of the world. This? The revelation of human rights abuse? Not the widespread corruption, the failure of governance? Instead, what shames us is the age-old Afghan tradition of providing safe shelter to those who most need it, and fighting for the rights of the vulnerable? This shames us?
Women who run shelters work every single day to safeguard the lives of their Afghan sisters, regardless of their politics and ethnicity, but are already up against tremendous odds in succeeding. Somewhere between 40 to 60% of all cases of known abuse are manipulated by an influential power holder, who uses his ability to pressure government to have his woman handed back over to her abusive husband or father from whom she sought to escape.