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Have Afghan women been liberated?

November 30, 2001 | Page 3

"ONLY AFGHANS can determine the future government of their country. And Afghan women should have the opportunity to play a role in that future." Fine words--unless you consider that the speaker was Laura Bush.

The president's wife called the war "a fight for the rights and dignity of women," and said that "the brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists."

The idea that George W. Bush is waging a war for women's liberation is a sick joke. His administration has gone out of its way to attack women's rights--from reinstating the "gag rule" that restricts U.S. aid to organizations that provide advice about abortion to appointing anti-choice bigots John Ashcroft as attorney general and Tommy Thompson as health and human services secretary.

Shamefully, some mainstream feminists bought the war-for-women line. The Feminist Majority is circulating a petition to Bush that reads: "Thank you for your Administration's strong commitment announced in your new Afghan women's initiative to restore the rights of Afghan women."

As if the bombs dropped by U.S. warplanes haven't shredded the flesh of Afghan women and girls--or forced many thousands to become homeless and starving refugees!

And Washington's new pals, the Northern Alliance, have a terrible record of oppressing women, too. Chris Stephen, a reporter for Britain's Guardian newspaper, filed this description from Kabul after the Taliban were driven out:

"The religious police have gone but the burqas, the great tent-like garments that cover women and make them look like shapeless cartoon ghosts, remain. Foreign newspaper photographers, under pressure to produce images of the city's rejection of the Taliban, can be seen each day persuading a few women to remove these garments. What the photos do not show is the women putting them back on again moments later. For the fact remains that the Alliance feels the same way about women as the Taliban did--they are chattel, to be tolerated but kept out of real life."

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