The United States should start funding peace in Afghanistan, because it helped fund the war there, an Afghan women's activist said today.
Sima Wali, the president of Refugee Women in Development, fled from Afghanistan 19 years ago. She now lives in the United States, but continues to campaign for the rights of Afghan women refugees and those in Afghanistan.
Ms. Wali headed a discussion today (Oct 29) on the plight of Afghan women, as part of the State of the World Forum being held at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.
She outlined the plight of her country-women to about 50 delegates. She said their story was the most tragic in the world. Their situation was continuing to deteriorate even though the war was long over, because the ruling Taleban refused to give any resources to women and kept them in exclusion.
"The Taleban is using culture and religion to keep women down, but there is nothing in my religion that teaches keeping women at home, not educating them, starving them, and withholding medical treatment from them, so they die. Islam teaches us to care for and protect women, so arguing the treatment of women in Afghanistan is okay because it's our culture and religion is an argument in a vacuum."
Ms. Wali told the delegates that women both within the Taleban community and in refugee camps were being subjected to violence and rape. There were thousands of widows who were struggling to support themselves and their children, but were not allowed out of the house to work or even pick up foodstamps.
She said such tasks had to be carried out by male relatives, who often siphoned off most of the resources, leaving the women and their children malnourished and sick.
What those women needed was training and resources, not charity, she said. It was up to nations around the world to help those women develop, especially those nations who helped support the arms trade during the years of civil war.
"The United States helped create and support the 'Holy Warriors', the most fanatic group that got the lion's share of the weapons from the U.S. It's played a major role in the Afghanistan situation by basically financing the war, and it now has a responsibility to help finance peace. The women and their children have borne the brunt, but the U.S. must now use its leverage to find peace and bring about a resolution."
Ms. Wali wants the U.S. to dissuade Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from recognizing the rule of the Taleban. She also wants the people of the United States to put pressure on those companies that are seeking to take advantage of the situation and do business in Afghanistan
Multinationals should be held accountable, and should be working with governments to restore human rights in Afghanistan, she said.
- The Afghan Peace Foundation will show a ten minute documentary video on the situation in Afghanistan on Saturday, October 31, at 5:45pm in the Terrace Room of the Fairmont Hotel.
- It will also host a preview of Afghan Crisis tomorrow (Friday) at 8:00am in the Garden Room of the Fairmont Hotel. The video will be shown at 8:30 and 9:00.