Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Right To Vote, The Right To An Education

Recently, the United States celebrated the 90th anniversary of women's right to vote. That right was won by the significant efforts of a number of women, many of whom were jailed, beaten, and starved, fighting for this right. We honor them, and all that they have made possible for us 90 years later.

Now we have women governors, senators, representatives, and Secretaries of State. I can only imagine what out founding mothers would have thought of that, the joy, the excitement, the relief. No doubt, things have changed in this country for women. Not that women are treated as full equals yet in the United States. The sexism and misogyny evidenced by one of the two major political parties in 2008 made that abundantly clear. But things are better. We strive, still, for equal equal pay, for equal representation, for our first woman president, but there is no denying we are better off now than we were 90 years ago.

Indeed, our foremothers worked hard for this, as many of us have in the intervening years. But there are other countries, like Afghanistan, for example, where girls are in danger for merely trying to get an education. Yes, on Wednesday of this week, a girls' school had poisonous gas spread throughout the school, sickening a number of the girls and teachers. Who would do such a thing? The Taliban would:
[snip] Wednesday's incident follows a similar pattern seen in other recent attacks at girls' schools involving an airborne substance which officials say could be some form of gas.

Those have raised fears that the Taliban and other allied groups who oppose female education are using a new method to scare them away from classes. [snip]

Wow. I scarcely know how to respond to this. It is despicable. And it is a pattern with the Taliban:
[snip] "This has happened a couple of times before, mainly in the northern province of Kunduz. At the time, it was also said, that these girls were poisoned and officials pointed the finger at the Taliban and rightly so," she said.

"However, there is still no hard conclusion on who is behind this attack and what kind of poisoning is taking place."

The Taliban banned education for girls during their Afghan rule from 1996-2001, but have condemned similar attacks in the past.

They have, however, set fire to dozens of schools, threatened teachers and even attacked schoolgirls in rural areas.

In one attack in Kandahar in 2008,around 15 girls and teachers were sprayed with acid by men on motorbikes.

In parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan, particularly in Taliban strongholds, schools for girls still remain closed. [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

This attitude toward women and girls is a bitter pill to swallow. As is this headline from The Hill, "Sen. Kerry: 'Very active' efforts under way to reach settlement with Taliban." What? How? Why? Kerry explains:
[snip]"I can report without being specific that there are efforts under way. They are serious, and I completely agree with that fundamental premise — and so does General [David] Petraeus and so does President Obama — there is no military solution," he told NPR. "And there are very active efforts now to seek an appropriate kind of political settlement."

U.S. officials have acknowledged that some sort of political settlement must be reached with the Taliban — a loosely affiliated group of Islamic insurgents that control large swaths of territory in Afghanistan — in order to bring an end to the almost nine-year-long U.S. war there.

The beginning of settlement negotiations represents a significant development in terms of Western involvement there...

Kerry said any "appropriate" settlement would have to include "a renunciation of al Qaeda," a "reduction of violence," a "recognition of the constitutional rights of both Pakistan and Afghanistan and greater efforts to reduce sanctuaries for insurgency."[snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

And what about the women and girls, Senator Kerry? What about them, in your "negotiations" with terrorists? Yeah, I know - who gives a damn about them? They are just "casualties," I suppose, necessary capitulations to this woman-hating group.

How it is Kerry, and Obama, think having active negotiations with the Taliban is a good thing? What are the chances, really, that, if they can even get some of these groups to come to the table, they will even keep their word should a compromise be reached?

And what about these women, these girls? The ones gassed by members of the Taliban to prevent them from learning? Or, the Taliban members who throw acid in the faces of these girls in an attempt to force them our of school? Oh, yeah - these sounds like just the kind of people with whom we should be engaging in "very active" negotiations. You know, since we are choosing to negotiate with terrorists in the first place.

I cannot help but be reminded of this powerful moment (again) of CJ Craig on "West Wing":

Wow. Yep, that sounds a little too familiar...

Indeed, I am thankful, grateful, and humbled for the work our foremothers did to secure us the right to vote in this country. For the women who fought to make this possible: Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and all the other remarkable women who enabled for us to have this right, thank you.

May the young girls and women of Afghanistan one day be allowed to learn, to study, to be educated. And may they, one day, one day soon, be full participants in their country. Sadly, that day is not today.

One other note - almost 200 women and 4 boys were raped near a UN Peacekeepers camp in Congo. And what has the UN said about it? They're looking into it. Well, it only happened three weeks ago, so you can see why it might take them a while to come out with any kind of statement. Right. Sec. Clinton spoke out about this atrocity, and you can read her remarks HERE, but this sums it up:
[snip]"Sexual violence harms more than its immediate victims. It denies and destroys our common dignity, it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as humans, it endangers families and communities, it erodes social and political stability, and it undermines economic progress. These travesties, committed with impunity against innocent civilians who play no role in armed conflict, hold us all back. [snip]

Amen to that.


SFIndie said...

The sacrifices made by the women who came before us are monumental and they are all heroes. Maybe someone should think about building a community center for women at ground zero instead of a . . . oh, never mind. (Although wouldn't it be something if the "feminist" groups came out to support an idea like that???)

These so-called 'negotiations' are just a lot of smoke and mirrors, a way for the administration to bring an end to 9 years of war and claim 'we won'. Do they think we're that stupid, to believe that a bunch of terrorists are going to stick to their word once we're gone? Really?

And I'm interested in what, specifically, a 'reduction in violence' would look like. "Okay, you can still poison girls and women, but leave the boys alone. You can still deny rights to women, but at least just SAY you'll reduce sanctuaries for insurgents".

That speech by CJ remains one of my favorite. And it's too true, even now. Our 'partners in peace' are terrorists, plain and simple.

But then, I'm just a terrorist-hating Islamaphobe with probably a touch of racist mixed in.

Is it December 24th yet? 'Cause I'm pretty much packed and ready to leave...

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SFIndie, beautifully said - yes, they are all heroes these women who sacrificed so much. Women today, like the ones who attacked Hillary and Sarah just because they are powerful women, could not walk one day in those women's shoes. Their courage, their conviction, their strength is astonishing.

Absolutely - I think you are right on target abt these "negotiations." I cannot believe we are sitting down with them, though Gen. Petraeus (sp?) said that he didn't think we were negotiating with them, just listening, or words to that effect. Huh. Somebody better get that memo to Kerry and Obama, then. Ahem.

It is ridiculous - there is no way they would hold up their ends of the bargains struck, do you think? Well, maybe, if they can continue to gas and throw acid at the girls/women, they might be willing to make some concessions.


Yeah, I am ready to go, too...