Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Afghanistan: the west needs to stop seeing women in need of “salvation”

The West has a long history of “rescuing” Afghan women, a theme we’ve seen in many media reports since Kabul fell to the Taliban in August. It was a story that was also in the spotlight in 2001, when the administration of US President George W. Bush launched the “war on terror” and the invasion of Afghanistan, and his wife Laura stated that “the fight against terrorism is also a fight for rights and dignity. women “.

In the UK, this excuse was also used by the Tony Blair government, which joined an international coalition, claiming that the campaign was necessary, among other things, to “return the voice” to Afghan women disenfranchised by the Taliban.

But while it is true that Afghan women have faced violent injustice under the Taliban, it is important to analyze the distortions that accompanied this “savior” story.

Ironically, this message found a common cause on both sides of the political spectrum and even became a rare example of how the language of feminism and the language of colonialism have come together to say the same thing. Thus, the Afghan woman has become the personification of the opposite of what the West considers the defining virtues, in that she is presented as backward and powerless.

The story of the “ white savior ”

The problem with this tale of the white savior is that it is filled with the same Orientalist civilizing arguments. It is an age-old fantasy that was used to justify colonial wars – a classic example is Lord Cromer’s condemnation of how Islam treated women when Britain colonized Egypt in the 19th century.

Such thinking continues to reinforce the idea that war can free Muslim women from their oppressive men and free the West from Islamic terrorism. Yet the international community remained silent when women were attacked by the US-backed Afghan government and Afghan warlords before the Taliban came to power.

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Read more: Afghan women’s lives are now at risk from the Taliban – but they have always faced male violence


And while the far-right often expresses xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes towards Muslims, some groups hastened to use the Taliban’s seizure of power to promote their own anti-women and anti-liberal agendas. In this debate – for both the extreme right and fundamentalists – women are represented in several different and important ways.

For Islamic fundamentalists, Muslim women are always seen as key representatives of their culture, so “right” behavior and “right” dress are important. Meanwhile, some far-right groups – despite their xenophobia – hail the Taliban’s victory. Both of these positions are harmful to Afghan women.

At the same time, left-wing liberal feminists also express concern about violations of the rights of “voiceless” Muslim women. But opposition to the Taliban in particular and elements of Islamic culture and society in general poses a problem for those on the left who fear opposing Islamist ideology due to residual colonial guilt, a noble desire to respect other cultures, and some perceived common reasons. with some Islamist groups.

As a result, when I identified myself as a secular Muslim feminist and argued that the Taliban posed a danger to women, both Islamic fundamentalists and some on the left accused me of being the “mouthpiece” and “traitor” supporting Western imperialism. …

Women can speak for themselves: they need to be heard.
EPA-EFE / stringer

Too often, the outside world makes broad generalizations about the deeply complex political, historical and social history and issues that have shaped the cultural milieu of Afghan women. We must understand that the goals and desires of Afghan women may not quite match the “freedoms” envisioned by white feminism.

What do Afghan women really want?

After all, amid all this background noise, the real voices of Afghan women are often drowned out. For outsiders, this may be easier, but superimposing the neat cultural notions of the “sacrifice of a Muslim woman” on tangled historical and political narratives will get you nowhere.



Read more: Afghanistan: women at the forefront of anti-Taliban protests


It is clear that ignoring the dangers faced by Afghan women and the oppression of Muslim women is generally useless. But it is important to recognize the vastly different social, economic and political dynamics that have created the contexts in which these women live.

It is also important to understand that “Muslim women” are not a fixed, static or homogeneous group. And we need to ask ourselves what we really mean when we use words like agency and victimization. In reality, everything is much more complicated.

We must acknowledge that Afghan women (different group) may want different than what Westerners (also different group) may want from them. We must recognize that with or without the Taliban, Afghan women are the only ones who can face their dire conditions. Therefore, we should listen to their opinion on how they can help.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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