Monday, January 26, 2009

Keeping the Women in the Kitchen

The Taliban are seeking to impose drastic Islamic fundamentalist codes of behavior on the people of Pakistan's north-west tribal regions:

...the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province [is] a place well known among Pakistanis for its breathtaking views, cool summer climate and lush fruit orchards. But today the Swat Valley is experiencing heartbreaking pressures, as the Taliban strike with disconcerting regularity and, among other atrocities, impose a ban on the education of girls.

Even before this ban was put in place on Jan. 15, more than 100 schools for girls in Swat, as well as more than 150 such schools in the greater Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), had been shut down, many after being bombed or torched, leaving approximately 100,000 girls out of school. Radio announcements warned girls that they could be attacked with acid if they dared to attend school, and teachers have been threatened and killed. Last Monday, five more Swat Valley schools were bombed.
The attacks and threats have not been confined to schoolgirls. Women and girls have been ordered to wear full veils. Directives have been issued requiring that women be accompanied by male family members in public places and forbidding women from carrying compulsory government identification cards displaying their photographs. About a dozen women have been shot for "immoral activities," including Bakht Zeba, a 45-year-old social worker committed to advancing girls' education. The area seems to be in competition with Afghanistan over which will establish the worst record on women's rights.

This is probably the most reprehensible aspect of the Taliban worldview, and why they need to be defeated in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. But can the American Empire accomplish this in our weakened condition? Stayed tuned.

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