Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords

Violation of human rights and oppression is ubiquitous, but "war is no gentle tool for transnational social engineering". Certain aggressive activists and feminists insist that waging war will improve the status of women in Afghanistan. Although modest gains have been made for women since the fall of the Taliban, their situation remains frightening and uncertain.

Malalai Joya, a women's rights activist in a country where few women's rights exist to begin with, informs Westerners: "Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime of warlords." The claim that the US and its allies have brought justice, democracy and women’s rights to Afghanistan “is all a lie, dust in the eyes of the world," says Joya.

Malalai's life is marked by more than just the average oppression, second-class citizenry, and social scrutiny that most Afghan women experience. Joya has been the target of 5 assassination attempts since 2003. At one time the youngest member of parliament in Afghanistan, Malalai now lives on the run. Constantly in danger, she hides beneath a burqa when traveling at home as do many women - in addition to her 5 body guards.

It isn't without reason that her life seems to be so valuable. Malalai has been writing and speaking out around the globe about the situation of the Afghan people during last decade. Joya published her memoirs A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice in Fall 2009, revealing the many tragedies of her country, most notably the lingering plight of women. She recently spoke at Brown, MIT, Harvard, and Emerson as part of her book release to raise awareness about the real implications of U.S. occupation in Afghanistan; a timely appearance considering President Obama's decision to increase troop presence by 30,000 in the past months.

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