Many advocates of equality have cited the increase in a society’s overall well-being by the proportional increase in the empowerment of women. There is an unequivocal correlation between the two, and anyone that wishes to see social and economic progress in their nation must acknowledge the veracity within this association. When the Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan, those that were once struggling to survive were given the opportunity to remake themselves. For a while the world was pleased to see that steps were being taken in a positive direction. Since the Taliban’s expulsion, more schools have been built and democratic elections – albeit questionable elections – have taken place. The most significant progress, however, has come in the form of gender equality. Women have been given rights and have enjoyed more protection under new laws such as the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW). Unfortunately, progress is slow, and sometimes it takes a step backwards before righting itself.
A new law has been proposed in Afghanistan that will forbid the relatives of assault victims to testify against the defendants.[i] Because the victims are predominantly female, and because the only interaction females generally have is limited to family members, this law essentially precludes any chance of justice. Writing from a Western perspective, much of what I now protest against may be received as ethnocentric drivel, and perhaps it is, but I am afraid I find myself incapable of apologizing. I am not encouraging the abolition of their traditions; no, I am merely advocating that each person, regardless of nationality, religious inclination or otherwise, has the right to equal protection. If I am practicing ethnocentrism, then you will find me happily guilty.
It is repugnant that a rapist or a misogynistic husband may attack a woman with impunity. It is repulsive that their brothers and fathers turn their heads, but it is disgraceful that such cruelty is now to be protected – nay, sanctioned! – by a democratically elected parliament. If Afghanistan is ever to raise herself above foreign influences, she must first raise each member of her society above the influences of internal oppression. As Christopher Hitchens was so fond of proclaiming, “…the only known cure for poverty, [is] the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” Nothing has been shown to bring peace and prosperity faster than this, for peace and prosperity move in proportional oscillation with equality.
[i] Conant, Eve. “New Afghan Law Disastrous for Women, Says National Geographic Photographer.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 08 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.