Obama, Afghanistan, and Women’s Rights

by Intern Stephanie G

Many Democrats are beginning to feel torn about the involvement of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The tug-of-war lies between their wishes to bring our soldiers home, and their concern for the safety of Afghan women. President Obama has stated that women’s rights are a great concern in his administration. “My own background is somebody who was taught by my mom that the single-greatest measure of how well a society does is how it treats its women. And so, we are going to redouble our efforts on that front,” he said in a recent interview with NBC. Does redoubling efforts mean sending more troops to Afghanistan? We’re not sure.

The argument lies in whether or not the presence of U.S. troops is actually helping to protect the Afghan women, or if we are just adding fuel to fire up a resurgence in Taliban control. From 1996-2001 when the Taliban ruled over Afghanistan, women lived under pretty horrendous conditions. They were forced to cover themselves from head to toe (even covering their eyes), were not allowed to work, were not allowed to receive an education, were not allowed to leave their homes unless attended by a male escort…the list goes on and on. Since the fall of the Taliban, conditions have improved for women, but there are still injustices occurring every single day.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for the region (including Afghanistan), Karl Inderfurt, feels that in a country where the gun is still the most powerful form of influence, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan at this point would be disastrous for the nation’s women. “There will not be anyone to fight for them, and we know it.”

On the contrary, Michigan Democrat Carl Levin feels that our presence can only negatively impact the situation. “If we do the wrong thing and have too many combat troops, we’ll play right into the hands of the people who want to put them back into the Dark Ages. The Taliban uses our Western footprint as a way … of trying to dominate their country, and we shouldn’t play into their hands.”

It’s quite the predicament, and for those involved, we hope that they will continue to make Afghan women’s rights and safety a top priority in their decision-making.

Photo courtesy cbcnews. Quotes courtesy of The Washington Times

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