Women and the Taliban | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Women and the Taliban

By: Tammy Swofford

The Daily Times editorial pages on Wednesday, November 23 provided fragrant herbs of thought. I always look forward to reading the gentle musings of Mehboob Qadir.

He writes in a manner recognisable to those dwelling within the military chain of command. Restrained strength borne under the burden of rank is a writing signature recognisable to military officers.

The editorial, ‘‘Peace’ with the Taliban?’ and the column, ‘Bread is bread and women are women’ by Dr Maqsood Jafri present as literary companions. The editor encourages us to cast a glance towards the past and consider the Taliban’s history of governance with regards to societal health. We are reminded of the active denial of educational and workplace opportunities for girls and women who were at an age of maturity. The piece by Dr Jafri is pigeonholed as analysis. But it reads more like a poetic song in defence of women and their honoured position in society. His words resemble the string of pearls that make up the couplets of a Persian or Urdu ghazal (a form of Urdu poetry).

The acumen required to cook up a daily ‘a la carte’ menu of options for hungry readers of an editorial page is an acquired skill. I remain humbly grateful for my contribution. As a female journalist who cares deeply about women and little girls, let me add to the fragrant potpourri of thought regarding the world according to the Taliban. History will soon be repeated.

Kabul fell to the Taliban in September of 1996. Taliban leader Mullah Omar wasted little time instituting policy changes, which allowed bullying manhood to masquerade as patriarchal strength. The anchoring ayat (Quranic verse) on male and female relationships can be found in the Quran, 2:228. The final portion of the ayat reads well from a small book in my personal library.

It is compiled and edited by Dr Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hillali, PhD (Berlin) and Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan: “…And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses, etc) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect, etc.) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them….” (Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language, a summarised version of At-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir with comments from Sahih Al-Bukhari). The majority of people grasp a reasonable expectation of behaviour between the adult sexes. And it is also likely that none would deny that with greater responsibility comes greater authority. Hence, the husband with greater responsibility is graced with authority via the complementary and supportive role of his wife.

The Taliban interpreted reasonable authority to include the collapse of the national healthcare system, collapse of the government sector and collapse of educational institutions. Removing professional women from the government and healthcare sectors was mean-spirited enough. Sending female teachers home and denying little girls education was an act of irrationality. Painting street level windows so that women could not view the outside world was a barbaric act.

But denying women the pleasure of sitting on their balconies marked the ‘pious’ Taliban as the biggest fakes of all. They were mighty mujahideen (Muslim warriors engaged in jihad) who could take a city. But, at the end of the day, they could not control their own base desires and lust. The women of Kabul and the women within areas of control under the leadership of Mullah Omar now faced an indefinite lock-up.

Milestones by Sayyid Qutb has this to say regarding Islamic society: “According to our unvarying definition of civilisation, the Islamic society is not just an entity of the past, to be studied in history, but it is a demand of the present and a hope of the future. Mankind can be dignified, today or tomorrow, by striving toward this noble civilisation, by pulling itself out of the abyss of jahiliyyah into which it is falling. This is true not only for the industrially and economically developed nations but also for the backward nations.”

Other documented (and videotaped) acts of piety by the Taliban include cutting off women’s noses and beating pregnant women who dared lift their veils to relieve nausea in the side alleys of Kabul. A bit of bone-breaking activities against the more beautiful sex has also been documented. The Taliban support state-mandated violence against women.

Michael Gruber is the author of The Good Son. His novel presents us with an anti-hero scenario. Theo Laghari is a man born in Punjab, the product of a marriage between a Pakistani father and an American mother. Theo is a man who can justify women having their noses cut off because they show their faces in public. The bizarre terrain of his mind carefully ponders hazy moral equivalencies for morally reprehensible acts.

He is able to justify violence against women in the name of tribal tradition. This is a man whom the liberal leftist, crazed social anthropologist and ordinary idiot will embrace. They identify with the carefully crafted tale of Theo Laghari in the same manner that other individuals will defend the logic of the Taliban. But who rises up to defend the powerless? Who is willing to state the obvious? The age of ignorance has risen from the ash heap of history again.

It matters not to me that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar waves about what he claims to be the cloak of the Prophet. That is deceptive stagecraft. It matters not that the Taliban consider Afghanistan the embryonic hope for a glorious caliphate. They will abort their own baby. What really, really matters – what I give a hoot about – is the women.

Families are meant to be like the qidra (a Palestinian rice dish) spices of Gaza. The Taliban work to discard the essential and needed spice of womanhood from the public square. A primary feature within a Talibanesque landscape in Afghanistan is one of women as mechanical butterflies. They will be kept within their little wire cages. The men and boys will roam the streets, with utter freedom.
Source: Daily Times