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Western powers and donors created a category that consigned the women of Afghanistan to perpetual victimhood—while all parties instrumentalized them for political ends.
Argument: ‘Afghan Women’ Aren’t Who You Think They Are ‘Afghan Women’ Aren’t Who You Think They A... | View Comments ()
On May 7, the Taliban issued a statement making their version of the hijab mandatory for all women of Afghanistan, even though this full-body covering, sometimes called a burqa, is not a traditional Afghan garment. Since seizing control of the country following an agreement between the United States and the Taliban, the group has banned girls from secondary education and prevented women from working or traveling long distances without a male escort, among many other restrictions.
Meanwhile, the world watches as the Taliban commit constant human rights violations, raising the question of why the rights of women in Afghanistan are not considered the same as women’s rights elsewhere in the world.
More than 20 years after 9/11, there is once again talk of “saving Afghan women” all over again—but Western good intentions will not necessarily improve the lives of women in Afghanistan. That’s because the term “Afghan women” is a political-economic construct coined by several actors that instrumentalizes the women of Afghanistan for political ends. In the last two decades, Western powers, Afghan strongmen, and (to some extent) the women of Afghanistan have contributed to amplifying this term to serve the political and economic needs of the parties involved.
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