Commentary Magazine


Contentions

An Actual War on Women in Afghanistan

Let’s take a brief interlude from the very fake war on women in the U.S. for some disturbing news about an actual war on women in Afghanistan, where 150 schoolgirls were reportedly poisoned by radical insurgents today. Withdrawal gives President Obama a box to check on his 2008 campaign promise list, but unfortunately it likely means more attacks like this one:

About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country’s north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education. …

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in the hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated.

“This is not a natural illness. It’s an intentional act to poison schoolgirls,” said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar’s public health department.

None of the officials blamed any particular group for the attack, fearing retribution from anyone named.

Attacks like these are just a preview of the Taliban violence and intimidation campaigns that awaits Afghan women as U.S. forces withdraw. Notice that the school will not even name what group carried it out, for fear of reprisal. Already preparing for the coming day when U.S. protection will no longer be available?

The future for Afghan women is an issue that’s weighing heavily on congressional critics of the withdrawal timetable. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers spoke about what the withdrawal will bring for Afghan women in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg yesterday:

“We said to these women that we’re with them,” [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers] said. “What are we saying to them now? I was in one of the first congressional delegations into the country, and I met a woman, a doctor, who spoke better English than I do. She has a U.S. medical degree. She took me to her hospital, a children’s hospital. She told me that when she first heard of the fighting in 2001, she took off her burqa and walked something like 25 or 30 miles to the hospital. She had basically been a prisoner in her husband’s house for three years, and now she was doing surgeries.”

He continued: “And I get angry now because we’re walking away from her. We’re inviting the people, the Taliban, back, the very people who shoot people in soccer stadiums, who chop peoples’ heads off. What message does that send to her? That she might as well put on her burqa and walk back to her husband’s house?”

A little more national media attention on the war on women in Afghanistan would be nice, if only because it would help give partisans on both sides a much-needed reminder about what the term actually means.