Sad news out of Afghanistan this week:
Taliban targeting Afghan women and government workers, UN report finds. The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has decreased for the first time in six years, said the UN, but targeted killings by insurgents – particularly of women, girls and government employees – increased dramatically.... the report showed a 20% increase in the number of women and girls killed or injured. Deliberate targeting by the Taliban and other insurgents also tripled in 2012, said the UN. Most were hit while in their homes or working in fields. Of the 854 female casualties, 504 were a result of insurgent attacks, while foreign and Afghan troops were responsible for 155 deaths and injuries. The Guardian, 19 February 2013
And it looks like a law banning violence against women is facing serious opposition in the parliament:
The Afghan Battle Over A Law To Protect Women. Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 banning violence against women. But the parliament, which is currently on its winter recess, has been unable to pass it and give it permanence as a law. There's major disagreement on key provisions where Islamic and secular law come into conflict. And activists say the gains made in women's rights since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 are slipping away. Masooda Karokhi, a female member of parliament, has been pushing to get the proposal through the male-dominated legislature. NPR, 20 February 2013
A relevant book I just finished is Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, which follows the lives of two women in 1990s and 2000s Afghanistan as they experience the Soviet invasion and withdrawal, the ensuing battle between warlords, the Taliban takeover, and life following the defeat of the Taliban. Here's the book jacket description:
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them.