I'm on my lunchbreak now and checked the New York Times online a moment ago to catch up on current events, and wanted to immediately share this article with you. (Registration required). It is thrilling to read about these brave Afghan ladies demonstrating against the "marital rape" law, though it is equally disheartening to see the vitriolic fury their protest march generated among the fanatically conservative minions of Kabul.
The young women stepped off the bus and moved toward the protest march just beginning on the other side of the street when they were spotted by a mob of men.
“Get out of here, you whores!” the men shouted. “Get out!”
“We want our rights!” one of the women shouted, turning to face them. “We want equality!”
But the march carried on anyway. About 300 Afghan women, facing an angry throng three times larger than their own, walked the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that Parliament repeal a new law that introduces a range of Taliban-like restrictions on women, and permits, among other things, marital rape.
With the Afghan police keeping the mob at bay, the women walked two miles to Parliament, where they delivered a petition calling for the law’s repeal.
The women who protested Wednesday began their demonstration with what appeared to be a deliberately provocative act. They gathered in front of the School of the Last Prophet, a madrassa run by Ayatollah Asif Mohsini, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric. He and the scholars around him played an important role in the drafting of the new law.
“We are here to campaign for our rights,” one woman said into a loudspeaker. Then the women held their banners aloft and began to chant.
The reaction was immediate. Hundreds of students from the madrassa, most but not all of them men, poured into the streets to confront the demonstrators.
“Death to the enemies of Islam!” the counterdemonstrators cried, encircling the women. “We want Islamic law!”
The women stared ahead and kept walking.
The end of the article features one of the clerics of the madrassa, a Mohammed Hussein Jafaari.
The article quotes him as saying, “We Afghans don’t want a bunch of NATO commanders and foreign ministers telling us what to do.”
Oh yeah? Well, you know what Mr. Jafaari? A lot of Afghan women don't want a bunch of perverted Islamic male scholars telling them what to do!
I really wish there was something substantial we could do to help these ladies achieve the gender equality that they deserve. For all of their bravery, sadly they appear to be vastly outnumbered. Off the top of my head, one thing we could do, even if it does not solve the problem, is to offer asylum to any Afghan woman who wants to flee the country to escape the law. One counterargument to that idea though is that if we make it easier for the more independent minded women to leave Afghanistan, that will just make it harder for the remainder who stay behind. But I fear that the number of women who will push back is not enough as it is, and therefore it would not make much of a difference if they stayed, except to get themselves killed. Besides, if we can get enough women to leave, maybe it will create a shortage of wives and these tribalistic misogynystic assholes won't be able to have children to pass on the madness to another generation.