Afghanistan villagers demonstrate against rape
20 June 2005. A World to Win News Service.
Northern Afghanistan was the scene of another demonstration 29 May, one of many that have marked a political shift in this country over the last months. The people of Chaheab district in Takhar province, northeast Afghanistan, protested against the rape of a girl in a village of that district by one of the local commanders called Mahmoud Chaheabi. They were outraged that the local authorities deliberately ignored the case and had been trying to dismiss it. According to demonstrators, 10,000 people from all over the district (a district usually consists of a dozen villages) participated. The protest spilled over to a second day, leading to clashes with the authorities. The police commander of Takhar province said that angry demonstrators attacked the district headquarters, breaking windows and destroying cars. One demonstrator said that at least one person was killed and two injured.
Afghanistan has seen very few mass protests against rape before, especially when the perpetrator is a commander, one of the warlords who rule much of the country. The central regime headed by the US╝s Afghanistan flunky Hamid Karzai could not survive without the support of such men, now often recycled as governors or other local officials. Such protests are often met with further attacks on the victim. In Afghanistan revealing a rape can lead to the isolation of the woman due to the backward dominant social relations that have been reinforced by tyrannical Islamic forces over the last 25 years, including by Karzai╝s Islamic government. Since the victim generally has little support from the system, tradition and often even her family, usually she has little choice but to remain silent and live alone with this bitter experience for the rest of her life. Sometimes rape leads to suicide, especially when the rapist is a commander or some other powerful person, which is very common. Certainly this demonstration was very courageous and a break with the past. It indicates that many people have had enough of the cruel and unjust life imposed on them by the Mujahedin commanders backed by US imperialism and other western powers.
The US claimed that the invasion and occupation it led would ôliberate╜ the women of Afghanistan. The demonstration in Chaheab reveals what women are still going through. A report issued by Amnesty International on 30 May documents just how common it is for women to be raped, sold or traded by family members or kidnapped. They are often subjected to forced marriage, even while still children. AI condemns the government for what the report╝s headline calls ôa systematic failure to protect╜ women from rape, kidnapping and other kinds of violence and abuse despite the fact that Afghanistan╝s new constitution proclaims the equality of men and women. The report goes even further, saying that the abuse of women ôis tolerated at the highest levels of government and the judiciary╜ and that instead of punishing men who abuse women, the country╝s legal authorities often imprison girls and women who protest or run away. If a woman says she has been raped, the Islamic state often jails her for ôadultery╜. Very often the men responsible for these acts, the report continues, are government officials or members of the state╝s own security forces.
What the report points to but does not dare openly conclude is this: violence against women is closely bound up not only with the patriarchal, clan and feudal social relations now being enforced by American guns, but also with the whole state power structure on which US domination of Afghanistan rests. The rape of women by commanders is only one aspect of the oppression, but it is one that has become dramatically more common since the US-led occupation. This is the situation these village protestors confronted head-on.
This demonstration was one in a series of radical demonstrations taking place in Jalalabad, Wardak, Khost, Kabul and many other parts of the country in protests against the US-led occupiers and their puppet regime.