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Volume :23 Issue : 89 2005      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

"He Who Believes in the Devil Already Belongs to Him": Rescuing Women from Afghanistan to Iraq

Auther : Teresa Heffernan

During the war in Afghanistan, images of women in burqas filled the front pages of "North American and British newspapers. Cherie Blair argued: Nothing more symbolises the oppression of women than the burqa, which is a very visible sign of the role of women in Afghanistan" (Dejevsky). The veil these women wore became, in the media, a highly visual marker of all the injustices perpetrated on them. Further, Laura Bush, not opposed to the US administrations mandate that American military women don the head to toe abaya and refrain from driving when off the bases in Saudi Arabia as a sign of "cultural tolerance", suddenly emerged as the unlikely and benevolent champion of the veiled Afghan woman, and the "war on terror" became inextricably but illogically bound up with her oppression and fought in her name. In the First Ladys public radio broadcast from the White house, she insisted: "The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women" (Bush). When the Taliban were overthrown in November 2001, British and North American newspapers and TV stations were there ready to catch the moment when Afghani women showing their faces accompanied by celebratory headlines announcing their new freedom from oppressive rule, in actual fact post-Taliban Kabul continues to be dominated by women in burqas. Moreover, Laura Bush sunnily concluded in her talk that the West had rescued the veiled woman: "Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment". Three years after the Talibans fall, however, as attention and money have turned to Iraq, the situation for women in Afghanistan has in some areas worsened under the rule of the Northern Alliance and overall has seen little improvement.

 

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