What can we do to secure women’s rights in Afghanistan?

A reader in England sent an article, “160 Afghan Girls Poisoned For Daring Go to School.”

I wrote to him:

There’s nothing we can do about them. In fact, we are causing them harm by introducing girls’ schooling etc. into their society, which is such a threat to that society’s traditions that it leads to violence against the girls.

It’s the same with bringing Muslim immigrants into the West. The girls begin to be influenced by Western sexual morés, which results in their being honor-murdered by their relatives. If we had left them where they were, the girls would still be alive.

People say that Star Trek was the quintessential liberal TV series. But Star Trek’s Prime Directive was to ban interference in the natives’ cultures.

The reader replies:

I disagree than nothing can or should be done about this exceptional barbarity where Afghan girls were poisoned for going to school (assuming it was the Taliban that did it). But it has to come from “moderate” Muslim governments acting together to assert womens’ right to an education. Even the Taliban would have a hard time taking on widespread disapproval from Muslim countries. If the Taliban don’t desist, then all funding, from rich Muslim countries especially, would be cut off and certain boycotts could be put in place. The Taliban want to rule, but to do so they need the approval of other governments, especially Muslim ones.

And our task is to urge, with a firm stick if necessary, those Muslim governments to act against this sort of Taliban behaviour. Ditto on honour killing, forced marriage etc. Muslim governements’ pressure is the key. This has little to do with the neoconservative policy of spreading democracy.

I reject the view that the West should just do nothing at all times regarding barbaric Muslim behaviour.

But I also am opposed to having our troops in these countries.

- end of initial entry -

John E. writes:

Aditya B. referred to “Spengler’s Law of Gender Parity,” at The Thinking Housewife recently, as I see he has done here before. This law seems to make good sense, and should serve as an antidote to the tendency to isolate one problem in Muslim societies, the treatment of girls and women, from the other problems in those societies (i.e., the treatment of everybody else). The fact that these girls were poisoned is a horrible thing, looked at from any angle, nor am I suggesting that, in terms of “Spengler’s Law,” these girls somehow “deserved” it in the grand scheme of “gender parity.” What I do question is the motivation behind “doing something about this” when it involves the emotions evoked by terrible things done to the female sex, when surely life is not good, especially for particular hapless souls, for both sexes in these societies, at least from the perspective of the West. Does it make sense for us to “do something” for the women of their society when we’re not also willing to “do something” for the men? If we’re not inclined to do the latter, I think it should serve as at least a caution that we might not have the depth of perspective to do the former.

James P. writes:

You wrote:

“People say that Star Trek was the quintessential liberal TV series. But Star Trek’s Prime Directive was to ban interference in the natives’ cultures.”

Have you forgotten that Captain Kirk repeatedly found a “good reason” to violate the Prime Directive? Usually he did so when the native culture was “stagnant”—i.e., not making “progress” as Kirk defined it. We are violating the Prime Directive and interfering in Muslim countries because they are “stagnant” and not making any progress towards such liberal goals as educating female children.

William writes:

You wrote to the reader in England: “There’s nothing we can do about it.” In reply he says, “I disagree that nothing can or should be done.” Does he understand English? You never said nothing can be done. You were informing him that there is nothing the West can do to solve the problem of women’s rights in Afghanistan, and that we must not get involved in trying to solve their problem. I hope we do not squander any more treasure and lives on this fool’s errand. He exemplifies those who want to believe that the West can solve any problem. There are limits and they are imposed by reality. He appears to be deluding himself and others, and it is this delusion that has gotten us into the mess that we find ourselves in Muslim countries.

LA replies:

You are correct. When I said, “There’s nothing we can do about them [Afghan girls],” I did not mean that there are no actions that we can perform with the aim of helping Afghan girls and women. There are, obviously, all kinds of actions that we can perform with the aim of helping Afghan girls and women. We can build girl’s schools throughout Afghanistan. We can send Marines and “civil society activists” into every Afghan village encouraging girls to go to school. We can generate tons of propaganda telling the American people (a) that defeating Muslim terrorism in Afghanistan requires the building of democracy in Afghanistan, (b) that the building of Afghan democracy requires the full and equal participation of women in Afghan political life, and (c) that the full and equal participation of women in Afghan political life requires that we create institutions that will train Afghan women how to be democracy activists. We can embrace the idea that equalizing women’s condition and political participation in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries is a top priority of the United States. We can install our troops in Afghanistan for the next 30 or 60 years fighting the Taliban.

We can do all these things; indeed, we already have been doing them to a great extent. But none of these things can succeed in securing women’s education, women’s rights, and women’s equality in Afghanistan.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 31, 2012 10:38 AM | Send

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