Morning Tumblr! Today we’re celebrating World autism awareness day with our Monday morning post. In the last two decades there has been a steady increase in the prevalence of autism globally. Some people talk of it as an epidemic, with statistics estimating as many as one in 100 people are affected. We have a series of photographs are of students at the MacIntyre residential school in Wingrave, Buckinghamshire, for young people with severe learning disabilities, including autism. Reblog to make more people aware of autism.
A Decade of War, the Women of Afghanistan and the White Savior Industrial Complex. There are a lot of reasons for concern about the fate of women and their rights in Afghanistan, and there continue to be further instances of bad news for the current and future status of Afghan women. President Karzai recently backed restrictions issued by the Ulema Council on the conduct of women. Recent reports about invasive searches of female visitors in Pul E-Charki prison are stomach-turning. This week Human Rights Watch released a report on the Afghan women jailed for “moral crimes” like running away from abusive husbands. There ought to be concern and anger, of course. However…
Women’s rights are often held up as the trump card for why Afghanistan needed/needs us. I’m not challenging the fact that the Taliban’s position and the current government’s position on women are reprehensible and warped and need to be addressed, but please, please don’t hold up women’s rights as justification for an extended military presence in Afghanistan. Or for that matter, ever having been in Afghanistan to begin with. Not only is that false on so many levels, but it’s repulsive to use something so crucial, so much about people’s daily human rights, as a superficial excuse to sustain a military presence that, after ten years, has at best kept at bay some of the forces that harm women and erase their voices and their rights.
In light of critiques of #Kony2012 and fauxmanitarian sentimentality, it’s worth pointing out the elements of that in the rhetoric about trying to troop presence Afghanistan into being more gender equal. Not only is this a stretch of logic, but it’s hardly an accurate representation of any actual commitment by the international community to supporting positive gender role-related change. One only has to look at the vague, unsubstantiated encouragements toward handed down by this past December’s Bonn Conference to see that actual commitment to preserving and increasing women’s agency both politically and socially is a secondary, or tertiary even, concern. Women’s rights are used as a rallying cry and then tossed aside.
Malalai Joya, one Afghanistan’s most outspoken critics of Karzai and the West, and a prominent women’s rights activists, challenges the narrative on helping Afghan women, saying “the real struggle is between progressive Afghan women and men, and a phalanx of regressive forces.” Assuming the false dilemma of a choice between our decade of occupation and the utter helplessness of Afghan women at the hands of the Taliban is wrong. I support the idea of everybody working on social and economic and political strategies that support Afghan women in the peace transition, but that’s hardly what the US and the broader international community has done or attempted to do. The peace transition is favoring warlords over women’s rights. Unsurprisingly, we did not use our decade of war over there to build a system designed to give women the voice and power for which they are fighting. No white savior trophies being handed out today.
I’m going to yield to quoting Teju Cole to end this blog post, because I don’t think anyone can say it better: “there is much more to doing good work than “making a difference.” There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.”
Photo of Afghan women demonstrating in support of a female lawmaker in Kabul. Oct. 2012. Via HRW.
Bobby Rush Gets Kicked Off House Floor For Wearing Hoodie For Trayvon (by aseitzwald)
Should he go?
The man’s been a dick…granted. But should he be blamed for the poor woman who suffered severe burns from an accident while decanting petrol? Personally I don’t think so…but he’s still been a dick. Should the poor woman be used as a political pawn? No.