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Afghan women should not wait for others to solve their problems

Cheryl Benard is the Director of Metis Analytics and the author of Civil Democratic Islam. She is currently researching the situation of Christians in Iraq.

In an article, Cheryl Bernard wrote that women in Western civilization didn’t get their rights because people from a different culture far away felt sorry for us and sent their soldiers and tons of their money to lift us out of oppression.

“We got our rights through a lengthy and difficult struggle, by proving our capabilities and our worth and by perseverance. Every step of it was hard—the right to vote, the right to study, the right to work, the right to not be beaten by one’s husband, the right to own property,” she wrote.

“Advancement toward greater justice, fairness and inclusion is a process every society has to go through on its own.”

She said that the direction some of Afghan women seem to be taking in the face of US intended drawdown was worrying her.

“Emancipation and equality aren’t the product of pity or guilt, and you aren’t owed them by someone else’s army or taxpayer dollars. Seventeen years, 2,500 dead Americans and $126 billion are enough. More is not only unjustified but wouldn’t achieve the desired outcome anyway,” she wrote.

Referring to a time in Afghanistan where some women were wearing short skirts in public, Cheryl said that it was an “externally superimposed diorama that never got the core of the country, never reached the bulk of the actual Afghan population, and therefore vanished in a blink.”

She said that Afghan women need to recognize that the Taliban is not their only or worst problem. Deep-seated cultural values and traditions, such as the so-called Pashtun “honor code,” are far more devastating to women’s lives, and most of these are clearly un-Islamic or even anti-Islamic, she said.

Cheryl wrote that Afghan women will need to ensure that Islam is applied and interpreted correctly and that the Taliban can be an ally in combating Pashtun ant-woman traditions.

She advised the Afghan feminists to define some red lines on behalf of Afghan women, and to be extremely specific about what those red lines mean.