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Afghan women and the United States' policy in Afghanistan

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Afghan women and the United States' policy in Afghanistan
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Women -- Social conditions -- Afghanistan ( lcsh )
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Women -- Social conditions ( fast )
Foreign relations -- United States -- Afghanistan ( lcsh )
Afghanistan ( fast )
United States ( fast )
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This thesis examines whether or not the United States has been effective in successfully implementing women's rights in Afghanistan. While U.S. policy has been partially effective in specific areas such as providing greater educational and health access for women in the cities, development in the educational and health sectors in rural areas is extremely marginal and some in cases does not even exist. Additionally, the most noticeable accomplishment in the post-Taliban Afghanistan is the Ministry of Women's Affairs, which is highly ineffective in advancing women's rights. This thesis argues that an Islamic approach may offer a better alternative for obtaining equality and freedom for Afghan women and that such an Islamic-inspired solution would constitute a possible resolution to women's rights violations that occur in Afghanistan. In other words, policy makers in Afghanistan could use the teachings of Islam as a means of advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. To support this argument, the thesis reviews the literature on Islam, democracy, and women's rights and makes the case for the potential of Islam to advance women's rights in Afghanistan.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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by Reeta Yelda Mohmand.

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AFGHAN WOMEN AND THE UNITED STATES POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN
by
Reeta Yelda Mohmand
B.A., International Relations, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2006
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Political Science
2012


2012 by Reeta Mohmand
All rights reserved


This thesis for the Master of Political Science Degree by
Reeta Yelda Mohmand
has been approved for
Political Science
by
Dr. Jana Everett, Chair
Dr. Amin Kazak, Advisor
Dr. Glenn Morris, Advisor
May 02, 2012


Mohmand, Reeta Yelda (M.A. Political Science)
Afghan Women and the United States Policy in Afghanistan
Thesis directed by Jana Everett
ABSTRACT
This thesis examines whether or not the United States has been effective in
successfully implementing womens rights in Afghanistan. While U.S. policy has been
partially effective in specific areas such as providing greater educational and health
access for women in the cities, development in the educational and health sectors in rural
areas is extremely marginal and some in cases does not even exist. Additionally, the
most noticeable accomplishment in the post -Taliban Afghanistan is the Ministry of
Womens Affairs, which is highly ineffective in advancing womens rights. This thesis
argues that an Islamic approach may offer a better alternative for obtaining equality and
freedom for Afghan women and that such an Islamic-inspired solution would constitute a
possible resolution to womens rights violations that occur in Afghanistan. In other
words, policy makers in Afghanistan could use the teachings of Islam as a means of
advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. To support this argument,
the thesis reviews the literature on Islam, democracy, and womens rights and makes the
case for the potential of Islam to advance womens rights in Afghanistan.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Jana Everett
IV


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I am grateful to my thesis advisor, Professor Jana Everett, and my committee members,
Professors Amin Kazak and Glenn Morris for their patience and guidance in constructing
my thesis. I could not have written this thesis without the precious guidance, support, and
contributions of my entire committee. Thank you for all your help througthout this
process.
v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTERS
1. INTRODUCTION.......................................................1
Literature Review............................................2
Methodology...................................................8
Results, Value & Limitations................................. 9
2. THE COMPATIBILITY BETWEEN ISLAM & DEMOCRACY AND IN TURN
WOMEN AND ISLAM.......................................................11
Defining Islam & Democracy...................................11
Scholarly Discussion of Compatibility & Incompatibility between Islam and
Democracy....................................................13
Women in Islam...............................................20
Islam in Afghanistan.........................................22
3. A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN...................26
Afghanistans Legal System...................................27
History of Islam in Afghanistan..............................29
The Soviet Invasion..........................................34
The Mujahidin-Occupied Afghanistan...........................35
The TalibanOccupied Afghanistan.............................37
4. THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN SINCE 2001...................42
The U.S.-Occupied Afghanistan................................43
Ministry of Womens Affairs..................................45
vi


National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan...............50
Continuing Threat of the Taliban & Negotiations..............56
5. CONCLUSION & POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO WOMENS
RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN................................................60
Indonesia & Malayasia........................................61
Understanding the Qur an....................................64
Current Situation in Afghanistan.............................66
REFERENCES...........................................................73
vii


GLOSSARY
Baya A mutual pledge that holds the ruler responsible for assuring the supremacy of
Gods law and justice, securing human dignity, serving the public interest, and fulfilling
the entire duties of the rulership position. Additionally, it holds the people responsible
for supporting the ruler, obeying his decisions that comply with Gods law, and fulfilling
their obligations
Burqa All-enveloping veil, which covers a woman from head to foot with only a
small lace to look through
Hadhari A new progressive Islamic program in Malayasia aimed at obtaining general
ethical principles
Hadith Explanations of the Qur 'an by the Prophet
Hakimiyyat Allah Sovereignty of God
Hazaras Shia Muslims who live in Afghanistan and speak Farsi
Ijma The idea that the community decides consesuality who is to be its ruler
Ijtihad Guidance provided by religious scholar to the Muslim Communityon adapting to
new trends so as to ensure self-progress as well as communal progress
Imam An individual who leads prayer at mosques and guides or inspires the Muslim
community
Jirga Traditional informal, ad hoc, local/tribal council consisting of male elders of
all lineages/and or extended families of a village or tribal group
Khalifahs (Caliphs) Arabic word literally meaning "one who replaces someone else who
left or died" (English: caliph). In the context of Islam, however, the word acquires a
narrower meaning. The Muslim Khalifa is the successor (in a line of successors) to
Prophet Muhammad's position as the political, military, and administrative leader of the
Muslims
Madrasa Institution where Islamic sciences are taught, i.e. religious school
Mujahidin An opposition group formed in Afghanistan in response to the Soviet invasion
Mullah An individual who oversees the daily functions at a local mosque and ultimately
controls the religious activity in that specific locality
Namus An exclusively cultural concept that references the sexual integrity of family
members
vm


Pushtu One of Afghanistans official languages
Pashtun The largest ethno-linguistic group in Afghanistan, living primarily in eastern
and southern Afghanistan
Pashtunwali Customary laws based on tribal law
Purdah Urdu for veil, refers to the boundary between men and womens physical space
Quran The Islamic holy book
Sharia Islamic code of law that literally translates to consultation
Sunni The largest denomination of Islam, which is based on the belief that Prophet
Mohammad died without appointing a successor to lead the Muslim community
Sunna Description of how Prophet Mohammad lived his life
Surah A chapter of the Our an
Taliban Plural for the word Talib, an Arabic word meaning someone who is seeking
religious knowledge.
Tajik The second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan
Ummah The Muslim community
Ulema A class of individuals with knowledge in Sunni Islam who have been trained in
the religious sciences
IX


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
This thesis addresses the following central question: Given the United States promise to
improve womens rights when the United States invaded Afghanistan, how effective have been
plans forwarded by both the United States and Afghan governments to promote womens rights
in Afghanistan; if not effective, what needs to be done to further womens rights? This thesis
argues that an Islamic approach for attempting to obtain equality and freedom for Afghan women
would be an effective strategy to deal with womens rights violations that occur in Afghanistan.
In other words, policy makers in Afghanistan should use the teachings of Islam as a means of
advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. This thesis presents five central
points. First, the thesis analyzes the situation of Afghan women in the pre-Taliban and Taliban
eras. Second, the thesis evaluates the United States policy in Afghanistan and its influence on
Afghan women, arguing that when examined in depth, the United States has not made a
significant difference pertaining to womens rights issues in Afghanistan. Third, the thesis
argues that some governance reforms such as ministries created to address womens issues in the
post -Taliban era have limited influence on Afghan women due to the United States deviating
from its policy in Afghanistan. Fourth, the thesis argues that the United States policy in
Afghanistan has drifted away from its initial promises for Afghan women; rather, the United
States is going through the motions of securing womens rights to achieve satisfaction of
feminists around the globe and the international media, and these policies amount to mere
rhetoric and not substance. Fifth, to support this argument, the thesis presents data on the
continuities and changes that occur in the social and political roles of Afghan women under the
American occupation, namely from 2001 to the present.
1


Given the lack of plan and program efficiency, the thesis addresses how to fulfill the
initial promises of achieving womens emancipation. First, stabilizing the country is an
important factor in addressing both womens rights and policies so as to advance such a cause.
An option for this stabilization, which has recently been much debated, is negotiating with the
Taliban. While this negotiation and the consequential changes would be detrimental to the
democratic and social values that United States policy makers claim they are interested in
implementing as part of the U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan, some scholars have argued it
may be the only means for the United States to succeed in Afghanistan.1 An alternative is to
utilize an Islamic approach for attempting to obtain equality and freedom for Afghan women. In
other words, policy makers may potentially use the teachings of Islam as a means of advocating
and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. To support this argument, the thesis reviews the
literature on Islam, democracy, and womens rights and makes the case for the potential of Islam
to advance womens rights in Afghanistan.
This chapter presents a literature review of scholarship pertaining to women in
Afghanistan and United States policy and employs the work of authors Alletta Brenner, Michele
Ferguson, Margaret A. Mills and Salley L. Kitch, as well as Niaz A. Shah. This is followed by a
presentation of the methodology used in the thesis, as well as the expected results, and the value
of the thesis. Finally, this chapter presents an overview of the topics of the subsequent chapters.
Literature Review
Although womens rights issues were used as one of the primary rationales for
intervention in Afghanistan, many scholars argue the United States covert policy for
1Cowper-Coles, Sherard. "Talking to the Taliban: The only route to lasting peace." Newsweek. May 29, 2011.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/05/29/why-talking-to-the-taliban-is-the-only-option.html
2


Afghanistan may have been otherwise from the start. Therefore, limited efforts have been made
since the 2001 invasion to address womens rights, which have not brought about grassroots
innovations for Afghan women. Today, developments for womens health, political power,
education, and social status in Afghanistan are some of the major concerns that must be
addressed in discussing the reconstruction of the country. While some scholars argue that
significant change has been accomplished since the 2001 invasion, others argue that the changes
are merely a showcase to portray the United States success in bringing democracy to
Afghanistan and that these changes do not represent real quantifiable improvements for women.
The central aspect of this literature involves analyzing discourses surrounding womens
rights violations in Afghanistan. In the article Gender and Politics in U.S. Foreign Policy
Discourse, 2001-2004, Alletta Brenner argues that the claims initially made by the Bush
Administration in drafting its foreign policy in Afghanistan were often based on mistaken
assumptions, which undermined women in Afghanistan.2 In other words, the Bush
Administration sowed the seeds for a flawed foreign policy pertaining to womens rights, which
the Obama Administration is still currently following. Brenner argues that the type of liberation
advocated for by the Bush Administration was often presented in a moral framework and that the
actual actions of the Bush Administration did not reflect such a framework.3 Thus, in total, the
arguments presented by Brenner suggest that the Bush Administration used womens rights and
the emancipation of women as one of the prioritized justifications for invading Afghanistan;
however, very little was done for the women in Afghanistan.
2Brenner, Alletta. "Speaking of 'Respect for Women': Gender and Politics in U.S. Foreign Policy Discourse, 2001-
2004." Journal of International Women's Studies. (March 2009). Vol. 10 No. 3 pp. 18-32
3lbid.
3


In its approach to womens rights in Afghanistan, the United States utilizes the concept of
the dynamic of difference to justify its presence in Afghanistan. The dynamic of difference,
conceptualized by the 16th century Spanish theorist Francisco de Vitoria, forwarded norms that
the West continues to follow today, setting universal standards for treatment of non-Europeans
throughout the world, and in this case Afghanistan.4 This international legal construct is a
source of ongoing dispossession of Afghans based on the idea that Afghans are barbaric and
backward and that Afghans crave to be civilized by the United States.
In the article W Stands for Women: Feminism and Security Rhetoric in the Post 9/11
Bush Administration, Michele Ferguson argues that the United States uses the dynamic of
difference in determining its foreign policy in Afghanistan. Ferguson argues that in the
aftermath of 9/11, issues of culture, religion, and political rights became the focus of a perceived
ideological clash between civilization and barbarism, resulting in part in renewed attention for
women's rights.5 In other words, the concept of freedom in the United States, which included
the emancipation of women, became the explanation for why they hated the United States.
Fergusons argument resonates with the overarching argument presented by Professor Edward
Said in Orientalism.6 By arguing that Afghanistan is backward, U.S. policy makers facilitate
U.S. interests, irrespective of the interests of Afghan people, and utilize the political, social, and
economic structures of the country to the United States advantage. This in itself has created a
country with multiple complex issues surrounding political, economic, and social differences.
Collectively, this array of problems has caused historical struggles that jeopardize the security of
4Anghie, Antony. Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law. (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2004). pp. 20 & 21.
5Ferguson, Michele. ""W" Stands for Women: Feminism and Security Rhetoric in the Post 9/11 Bush
Administration'." Politics & Gender. (2005). Vol. 9 No. 1 p. 38.
6Said, W. Edward. Orientalism. (Vintage Books: A Division of Random House, 1978). p. 12.
4


Afghanistan, and because of Afghanistans geo-strategic position, its security is essential to the
United States.
In analyzing a 2004 conference of Afghan women activists and academics, authors
Margaret A. Mills and Salley L. Kitch argue that while actions are taken in the name of women,
these actions exploit the very women the activists and academics claim to be representing,
particularly since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.7 Mills and Kitch acknowledge that while some
nominal changes have occurred for Afghan women, these changes have not brought about the
democracy promised by the United States. One example of such a change outlined by Mills and
Kitch is the increased number of women in the traditional Afghan jirgas, which are tribal
assemblies of elders that make decisions by consensus. While there are more women in the
jirgas, these women often serve as puppets for the dominating male members. In other words,
the purpose of having an increased female presence in the jirgas does not guarantee that women
have a distinct voice in implementing policy and that women do not continue to be exploited.
Mills and Kitch also present an overview of the projects that are currently active
throughout Afghanistan. According to Mills and Kirch, these projects do not spend time
assessing the actual needs of Afghan women. Rather, these projects assume the needs of the
women and act accordingly. Often this occurs due to the competitive nature of the capital, and
the correlating profits, associated with funding earmarked for these projects. In other words, as
individuals obtain funding for projects, they tend to allocate funds in the least effective manner
so that opportunities for additional funding can be realized. In this cycle, the Afghan women and
their immediate needs are consistently overlooked.
7Salley L. Kitch & Margaret A. Mills. Afghan Women Leaders Speak: An Academic Activist Conference. Mershon
Center for International Security Studies, Ohio State University. (November 17-19, 2005)
5


Scholar Niaz A. Shah formulates an argument that this thesis develops further.8 In the
article The Constitution of Afghanistan and Womens Rights, Shah argues that while
advancing womens rights are vital to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, continued violations of
womens rights occur in Afghanistan. Shah illustrates that although the level and severity of the
violations may have varied throughout different periods of history, in general womens rights
violations have occurred throughout Afghanistans history, ranging from the pre-Soviet invasion
period to the present. However, the severity of the violations have fluctuated based on the
regime controlling the country.
One of the primary steps in attempting to address the reconstruction of Afghanistan was
the formation of the 2004 Afghan constitution, which closely addresses womens rights. While
the current constitution emerged under international standards related to human and womens
rights, there are still many womens rights provisions in the constitution that will not be enforced
because they are in conflict with Afghan cultural and religious practices. In other words, there
are certain aspects of the current constitution that are in conflict with the uniquely Afghan
interpretations of Islam: these aspects cannot be effective in Afghanistan unless equilibrium is
achieved between the actual teachings of Islam, international standards, and the unique Afghan
interpretations of Islam.
According to Shah, there are three types of provisions in the current constitution that deal
with womens rights: neutral, protective, and discriminatory. Each type of provision consists of
articles that address everyday issues for Afghan women. While the neutral provisions are
applicable to both men and women in Afghanistan, the protective provisions are designed to
8Shah, Niaz A. "The Constitution of Afghanistan and Women's Rights." Feminist Legal Studies. (January 2005).
Vol. 13. No. 2 pp. 239-258
6


protect womens rights. Finally, the discriminatory provisions may directly or indirectly go
against womens rights. Even with such provisions and the Afghan governments commitment
to addressing human rights violations, the country struggles to address womens and human
rights. As stated previously, a major obstacle to the success of these rights is related to the
narrow and uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam that the male-dominated society in
Afghanistan has decided to accept and implement. The ultimate goal of attempting to obtain
womens rights in Afghanistan must be realized through a deconstruction of the discourse of
Islam associated with the male-dominated society in Afghanistan.
Shah argues that regardless of the commitments made by the United States and the pro-
U.S. Afghan government, the best method of bringing about emancipation of Afghan women
should occur via a process that calls for achieving a stable ground between human rights and the
princples of Islamic law.9 In other words, some level of agreement must be achieved pertaining
to issues between uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam and international human rights
standards, in which there is often disagreement. As is evident from Afghanistans history, no
system of government has survived in the country without incorporating Islamic values;
therefore, achieving a common ground between religion and governance is important. Achieving
and maintaining political stability in Afghanistan is a prerequisite to reconciling the differences
between international standards for human and womens rights and the uniquely Afghan
interpretations of Islamic law principles that directly impact womens rights issues in
Afghanistan.
The above literature review attempts to provide insight into varying views on the issue of
womens rights in Afghanistan. In summary, the literature reviewed argues that the United
9Shah, Niaz A. p. 247
7


States has not fulfilled its initial promises to emancipate Afghan women. Consequently, there
have been limited improvements for womens rights in Afghanistan. Shah claims that a
particular process is required to bring about womens emancipation in Afghanistan. This thesis
seeks to make the case that an Islamic foundation provides a viable approach to womens rights
in Afghanistan. Finally, the thesis attempts to demonstrate that in order to forward and
substantiate womens rights in Afghanistan, it is extremely important to include the teachings of
Islam.
Methodology
This thesis employs a case study methodology. The purpose of this case study is to
identify the obstacles to womens rights in Afghanistan. I will use a case study to identify the
obstacles and make recommendations for improving womens rights in Afghanistan. While the
field of Political Science has no single definition of a case study, generally a case study is
exploratory, informed by interpretive presuppositions.10 What this means is that the present case
study is an in-depth analysis of viewing the different factors pertaining to women, Islam, and
democracy. The thesis will employ the scholarly literature and reports by government bodies
and non-governmental organizations in order to build a case study that addresses both womens
rights issues in Afghanistan as well as addresses how to overcome the obstacles faced by women
in Afghanistan. These qualitative elements will help develop an understanding of what questions
need be addressed. Also, this research has emancipatory value, and the main purpose is to
benefit the women in Afghanistan.
10Yanow, D., Schwartz-Shea P. & Freitas, M. J. (2008). Case Study Research in Political Science. In A.J. Mills, G.
Durepos & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Case Study Research Sage Publications, pp. 1-12
http://cesrt.hszuvd.nl/files/NEWS/Case%20Studv%20Research%20in%20Political%20Science%20Yanow%20Schwa
rtz Shea%20Freitas%20final.pdf
8


Results, Value & Limitations
The expected result of the research for this thesis is that it will add value to the
assessments of approaches taken by United States policy makers and their policies in
Afghanistan. In other words, the information from this research will help frame the issues
pertaining to womens rights in light of Islam. While other countries have attempted to obtain
womens rights, this has yet to occur in Afghanistan. Consequently, the result expected from this
research is that it would open a new avenue for womens rights to exist in Afghanistan in tandem
with a version of Islam that is compatible with democracy and, in turn, women and human rights.
Similarly, it must be acknowledged that there are limitations associated with the thesis.
Specifically, in conducting the research associated with this thesis, I was not able to travel to
Afghanistan to obtain first hand material and was not to observe the condition of Afghan women
directly.
In the cases of Indonesia and Malaysia, Islamic values and womens rights have managed
to co-exist.11 As modern Islamic countries, both Indonesia and Malaysia are relatively
democratic societies that attempt to practice gender equality and aim to prioritize womens
rights. Thus, these cases can serve as inpirations for Afghanistan. The value of this thesis is that
it will create a place for scholars and policy advisors to review the topic. Additionally, it will
help advance policies pertaining to emancipation of women in Afghanistan. One issue that arose
in completing this research was the limited amount of objective scholarly material relating to
womens rights. While womens rights are gaining prominence in Afghanistan, the topic in
general is a fairly new one, and oftentimes, obtaining unbiased information is difficult.
Schilling, Markus. "Islam and the Struggle for Democratic Transition in Malaysia." Taiwan Journal of Southeast
Asian Studies. Vol. 8. No. 1. pp 101-126 (2011) http://www.cseas.ncnu.edu.tw/journal/v08_nol/4.pp.101-
126TJSEAS8(l).pdf
9


Chapter two of this thesis addresses the compatibility between Islam and democracy,
followed by an analysis of Islam and womens rights. Chapter three presents an overview of the
historical and sociological background of women in Afghanistan until the United States 2001
invasion. Chapter four examines the situation of women in Afghanistan since the United States
invasion. This is followed by chapter five, which provides a conclusion of the thesis pertaining
to options for addressing womens rights issues in Afghanistan and policy recommendations to
advance womens rights. Chapter five also argues as to why Islam offers greater potential than
the United States current policy toward women in Afghanistan.
10


CHAPTER II
THE COMPATIBILITY BETWEEN ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY AND IN TURN
WOMEN AND ISLAM
This chapter presents brief evaluations of Islam and democracy and the contending views
that exist in addressing the compatibility between the two. The first section defines Islam and
democracy. Section two discusses three particular arguments, specifically on the supposed lack
of compatibility, then partial compatibility, and finally outright compatibility between Islam and
democracy. The chapter continues to focus on the importance of religion in Afghanistan.
Additionally, this chapter provides an overview of the relationship between Islam and women,
and argues that Islam advocates for womens rights. Finally, this chapter examines the
relationship between Islam and democracy in the framework of the current situation in
Afghanistan. The central argument is that Islam is compatible with democracy and that Islam is
also crucial for Afghans; however, the way Islam is understood in Afghanistan is primarily based
on tribal customs which are authoritarian and patriarchal.
Defining Islam and Democracy
Although in the last decade the West has associated Islam with terrorists and mass
destruction, in actuality, Islam is a broad and complex body of philosophical, legal, and political
thought whose norms and ideals emphasize the equality of people. Dr. Fathi Osman argues that
Islam not only has a vision of a just society, but also presents general principles of a whole way
of life for the individual, the family, the society, the state, and the world relations in order to
secure balance and justice in the whole human sphere. However, the Islamic holy book, the 12
12Osman, Fathi. "Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura." Center for Muslim-Christian
Understanding Occasional Paper Series, p. 8
11


Qur an, provides recommendations pertaining to governance about which Islamic scholars over
the centuries haven given numerous interpretations. As Omid Safi, Professor of Religious
Studies at the University of North Carolina, asserts, The Qur an is clearly not a political
constitution as we understand the term today. Nonetheless, it envisions a society devoted to
justice for all and to aiding the oppressed in light of a collective responsibility before God.13
Regardless of the envisioned society described, Islamic scholars often have varying
interpretations of the Qur an, which results in various forms of religious practice.
While this thesis argues that Islam and democracy are compatible, it acknowledges that
there are variants of Islam that have been and still are associated with authoritarian rule, such as
Iran.14 The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most despotic regimes in the world, arguably
due to the extreme version of Islam implemented in the country. On the other hand, more
moderate and democratic countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia practice a more liberal
version of Islam. Thus, examples of both despotic regimes and democratic regimes with Islam
as the majority religion exist.
This thesis utilizes the definition of democracy developed by Robert A. Dahl in
Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition.15 Dahl notes that the minimal requirements for a
democracy to exist are as follows: freedom to form and join organizations; freedom of
expression; the right to vote; eligibility for public office; the right of political leaders to compete
for support and vote; alternative sources of information; free and fair elections. An analysis of
http://www. usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/private/cmje/issues/more_issues/lslam_in_a_Modern_State_Democrac
y_ an d_Sh ura. pdf
13Safi, Omid. "Islam and Democracy." Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. February 3, 2011
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/by-topic/middle-east/islam-and-democracy/8069/
14Yusuf, Imtiyaz. "Overcoming authoritarian regimes in the Muslim world." The Nation March 04, 2011.
http://www.nationmultimedia.eom/2011/03/04/opinion/Overcoming-authoritarian-regimes-in-the-Muslim-wor-
30150046.html
15Dahl, Robert. A. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971) pp. 1 & 3
12


Dahls concept suggests that the values of democracy are constantly adapting and changing with
time.
Additionally, author Fareed Zakaria argues democracy has gone from being a form of
government to a way of life.16 This implies that democracy has various meanings based on
which culture or style of life it is applied to. Consequently, various strains of democracy exist
because people from different cultures and regions of the world have given the concept a unique
definition. For example, to the average American, democracy means free will; however, to a
person in Afghanistan, the word may mean freedom of speech. As a result of this, there is no
monolithic practice of democracy.
Taking the variation that exists in both democracy and Islam, the compatibility between
the two is often very complicated and requires significant analysis. While some scholars (both
Islamic and non-Islamic) argue that Islam and democracy are incompatible because of the nature
of Islam and its core teachings, others assert that they are compatible based on shared universal
values. In an attempt to formulate an Islamic response to democracy, scholars have established
several distinct perspectives, which have been identified by Hugh Goddard and Richard Bulliet,
including complete compatibility between Islam and democracy, partial compatibility between
Islam and democracy and complete incompatibility between the two.17
Scholarly Discussion of Compatibility & Incompatibility between Islam and Democracy
Islamic concepts of legitimate governance are not as monolithic as outsiders may assume.
While the Our an and the hadith (which are explanations of the Our an by the Prophet) form the
basis of Islamic beliefs, there is a wide range of interpretation by Islamic scholars. Scholarly
16Zakaria, Fareed, "Islam, Democracy and Constitutional Liberalism." The Political Quarterly. (Spring, 2004). Vol.
119. No. 1, p.13
17Goddard, Hugh. "Islam and Democracy," The Political Quarterly (December, 2002).Vol. 73, No. 1, p.7.
13


opinions have formed the principal sources for how Islam is supposed to view and respond to
questions of what is permissible and what is forbidden. As a result, bodies of Islamic scholars
have formed legal schools of thought in Islam, and different regions adhere to different schools.
Thus, one countrys religious Islamic understanding may favor one legal school of thought while
another countrys may favor another. Therefore, there is not as much conformity of opinions in
Islam as an outsider might think. Islamic scholars interpretations on all aspects of the religion
and also on understanding Islams compatibility with democracy vary.
This section reviews literature on the subject of compatibility between Islam and
democracy. According to Goddard, generally, scholarship has fallen into three general
categories. The first category constitutes arguments that Islam and democracy are not
compatible. In claiming that there is an incompatibility between Islam and democracy, some
scholars reference the concept of Hakimiyyat Allah, which means the sovereignty of God.18
Goddard identifies this perspective with Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb. Qutb argues that Islam
when practiced in its orthodox sense, clashes with democracy. This clash stems from the fact
that democracy advocates popular sovereignty, while Islam advocates the concept of Hakimiyyat
Allah. It has to be noted that during the time of the Qur an, the concept of popular sovereignty
did not exist. Since that time, the concept of popular sovereignty has developed and an argument
can be made that popular sovereignty can be a mechanism for forwarding the authority of God.
Khaled Abou El Fadl discusses the concept of Gods sovereignty noting that . .it cannot
substitute popular sovereignty for divine sovereignty, but must instead show how popular
18lbid, p. 4.
14


sovereigntywith its idea that citizens have rights and a correlative responsibility to pursue
justice with mercyexpresses Gods authority, properly understood.19
Political Scientist Samuel P. Huntington also argues that Islam and democracy are
incompatible. He argues that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source
of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Consequently, Huntington argues conflict will be based
on interaction of Western arrogance and Islamic intolerance.20 In other words, Huntingtons
argument is that because Islam and democracy are both homogenous and mutually exclusive,
they are not compatible. Huntingtons argument fails to take into account the variations that
exist in both Islam and democracy.
A second perspective asserts the incompatibility of Islam and democracy in light of the
relationship between Islam and the West. Scholars have pointed to a deep separation that exists
between Islam and the West, which is then viewed in light of animosity that exists toward the
West. In addressing the above argument, author Brian Handwerk, quoting Columbia University
Professor Richard Bulliet, points out that most of the presumptions regarding the incompatibility
of Islam and democracy are grounded in anti-U.S. and anti-West sentiment.21 In other words,
those who argue that democracy is at odds with Islam in actuality argue that the word
democracy (presented in international discourse supporting Western values) is incompatible
with Islam. The main reason for this incompatibility, according to Bulliet, appears to stem from
19EI Fadl, Khaled Abou. "Islam and the challenge of Democracy." http://bostonreview.net/BR28.2/abou.html
20Huntington, Samuel P. 'The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs (Summer 1991). Vol. 72 No. 3
http://ikesharpless.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/25214087/Samuel%20Huntington,%20The%20Clash%20of%20Civili
zations.pdf. It is interesting to note that in contrast to Huntington's argument, former Indonesian President,
Abdurrahman Wahid has argued that the "clash of civilizations" simply shows that although there are differences
between the West and Islam, this does not mean such differences eventuate in "enmity and clashes."20 Wahid's
argument is valid on the basis that there are many countries throughout the world that do not function in
accordance with Western democratic rule and are yet co-operative with democratic countries in the West.
21Handwerk, Brian. "Can Islam and Democracy Coexist? National Geographic News. (October 24, 2003).
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1021_031021_islamicdemocracy.html
15


the idea that the word democracy is often associated with the idea that the Wests culturally
imperialistic values which are at odds with Islam.
A third perspective asserts that Islam and democracy are compatible. Some scholars
reference Prophet Mohammads hadith as a source for freedom of speech and diversity of
thought. In discussing this perspective, Goddard references the work of Egyptian intellectual
Abbas A1 Aqqad, who argues that Islamic concepts such as ijma and bay a described below,
provide a firm foundation for democracy.22 In other words, ijma and bay a are concepts that
may form a balanced society that is both Islamic and democratic.
A1 Aqqad argues that ijma is in core agreement with democracy. Ijma, the idea that the
community should decide who is to be its ruler, advocates to directly place authority in the hands
of the public. A1 Aqqad further argues that the effectiveness of ijma depends on how the ulema
(a class of individuals with knowledge in Sunni Islam who have been trained in the religious
sciences) interpret it. This leads to determining the permissible behaviors for society, as opposed
to being a tool for political leadership.23 For instance, after the death of Prophet Mohammad, the
successors (the khalifahs or Caliphs) to Prophet Mohammads position were elected by majority
consensus, which is ijma. However, this practice became less prevalent as the traditions of the
tribal Arabs regained prominence. As such, ijma, a core value of Islam with clear historical
precedent, is not practiced in the 21st century as it was in early Islam. In The Islamic Way of
Life, Abu al-Ala Mawdudi states The authority of the caliphate is bestowed on the entire group
of people, the community as a whole. . Such a society carries the responsibility of the
22Goddard, p. 7.
23Gibreel Gibreel 'The Ulema: Middle Eastern Power Brokers." Middle East Quarterly. (Fall 2001). Vol. 8, No. 4,
pp. 15-23
16


caliphate as a whole and each one of its individuals] shares the Divine Caliphate.24 Mawdudi
makes the argument that individuals in Islamic society have the same rights as that of the
caliphate of God, which in turn implies that all individuals are considered equal. The above
referenced implication of equality is in line with the concept of democracy.
The concept of bay a, as described by scholar Abu Yala Mohammad ibn al-Husayn al-
Farra, refers to a mutual pledge that holds the ruler responsible for assuring the supremacy of
Gods law and justice, securing human dignity, serving the public interest, and fulfilling the
entire duties of the position, while it holds the people responsible for supporting the ruler,
obeying his decisions that comply with Gods law, and fulfilling their obligations.25 The
concept of bay a references a mutual relationship between the ruler and the ruled and the
responsibility that each share toward one another. In this way, bay a constitutes the concept of
public service. These two terms in tandem mean that the community has to choose a leader by
consensus and that leader in turn has responsibilities back to the community.
Islam and democracy share central values (e.g. justice and equality) that may be
considered as strong historical precedence for supporting the compatibility between Islam and
democracy; however, in attempting to address compatibility between the two, it is important to
understand the interpretation of Islam that is being utilized. A1 Aqqads interpretation of ijma
presented above is compatible with Dahls minimal requirements for democracy, which calls for
freedom to form and join organizations, freedom of expression, and the right to vote. In short,
ijma meets Dahls minimal requirement as rulers must be chosen by the community.
24Mawdudi, Abu al-Ala. The Islamic Way of Life (Kazi Pubns Inc. 17 edition, 1999). p.10
25Abu Ya'la, Mohammad ibn al-Husayn al-Farra, [d. 458 H/1065 C.E.], al-Mu'tamadfi Usui al-Din, a chapter
published in Yusuf Ibish, Nusus al-Fikr al-Siyasi al-lslami (Beirut: Dar al-Tali'a, 1966) p. 224.
17


Additionally, the concept of bay a conforms with Dahls argument that political leaders must
continue to serve the desires of the community.
In considering the positive values associated with democracy, Hamza Yusuf, director of
the Zaytouna Institute in California, argues that most of what Western society claims as its own
highest ideals (e.g. justice and equality) are deeply rooted in Islamic tradition.26 Based on the
argument presented by Yusuf, the roots of the values associated with democracy are shared
values of justice and equality that stem from the three Abrahamic religions; they are not
exclusively from the West. Similarly, in addressing the compatibility between Islam and
democracy, Louay Safi, a member of the board of directors of the Washington, D.C.-based
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) argues, Islam lays the ground for the
values of freedom, justice, and equality that are essential to democracy, more so than any other
religion.27 Therefore, numerous scholars like Safi argue that Islam promotes the very values
(including freedom, justice, and equality) that are essential to the flourishing of democracy. In
brief, Islam and democracy promote the same foundation pertaining to equality, freedom and
justice, thus giving support to the argument that Islam is compatible with democracy.
The Qur an promotes the concepts of liberty, justice and equality, which are similar to
the values promoted by democracy. There has been recognition of the compatibility of Islam
and democracy by American leaders. For example, Director of the State Departments policy-
planning staff, Richard Haass, in a 2003 article indicated, Many prominent Islamic intellectuals
and groups, however, argue that Islam and democracy are compatible.28 Additionally, there are
26Yusuf, Hamza. "Islam has a progressive tradition too," The Guardian (June 2002).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jun/19/religion.septemberlll
27Handwerk.
28Esposito, L John & Voll, O. John. "Islam and Democracy." Humanities, (November/December 2001). Vol. 22, No.
6 www.neh.gov/news/humanities/2001-ll/islam.html
18


no universal teachings of Islam that conflict with democracy, which further supports democracy
and Islam are compatible.
While there are different interpretations of Islam (causing Islam to have a variety of
manifestations), the core teachings of Islam are compatible with democracy. For example, while
the Qur an explicitly states that The command rests with none but Allah. He declares the truth,
and He is the best of judges, the Quran directs the ummah (Muslim community) to construct
legal and political structures that subordinate individuals to the will of society.29 Additionally,
the shar ia is a set of unchanging beliefs and principles that order life in accordance with God's
will.30 The shar ia is derived from two main sources, namely the Qur an and the sunna, which
describes how Prophet Mohammad lived his life. The shar ia presents guidelines that may be
referenced when attempting to address social problems. This concept is illustrated in the
Qur anic verse And we have sent down to you the book as an exposition of everything, a
guidance, a mercy and glad tidings to those who have submitted themselves to Allah.31 Islamic
scholars have interpreted this to mean that public policies must be in conformity with the
shar ia.32 But it can be argued that the shar ia, which literally translates to consultation, is
itself in agreement with democracy. In other words, the Qur an states that those who believe
should conduct their (public) affairs by mutual consultation.33 Simultaneously, the sha ria
argues that a systematic role for consultation with public representatives should occur.34 In other
29The Qur'an, Surah 6, verse 57. http://www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran/6-cattle.php
30Feldman, Noah. "Does Shariah mean the rule of law?" The New York Times (Sunday March 16, 2008)
http://www.nvtimes.com/2008/03/16/news/16iht-16shariaht.llll9704.html?pagewanted=all
31The Qur'an, Surah 16 Verse 89. http://www.islaml01.com/quran/yusufAli/index.htm
32Feldman.
33Goddard, p.7.
34Haass, Richard N. 'Towards Greater Democracy in the Muslim World" Council on Foreign Relations (December 4,
2002). http://www.twq.com/03summer/doc/03summer_hass.pdf
19


words, consensus on a given issue is reached by consulting the public figures, which then
becomes legally binding on all Muslims.
Recognizing the dynamics of compatibility between Islam and democracy and, in turn,
women and Islam is essential to understanding the present day situation in Afghanistan. With
the Wests involvement, it is clear that Afghanistans future is contingent on its ability to
understand relations between Islam and democracy and to find junctions between the two so that
Afghanistan can adapt a version of democracy compatible with Islam, as it is inconceivable that
Islam would not play a major role in the government of Afghanistan. In other words, because
Islam and democracy are both here to stay, a common ground based on shared values of each
must be reached.
The above discussion has shown that a case can be made that democracy and Islam are
compatible; however, it is unreasonable to assume that Afghanistan can transition quickly to a
democracy. Afghanistan must gradually adapt a version of democracy that the countrys policy
makers deem appropriate within the context of Afghanistans culture and way of life.
Afghanistan must be given the opportunity to adapt to democracy, and if the United States
imposes democracy, it would imply domination as opposed to democracy.
Women and Islam
One point of argument for those who claim Islam and democracy are irreconcilable is
Islams attitude toward women. These individuals present a weak argument on the basis that
Islam treats women as second-class citizens. However, Islam was able to discuss equality of
race, gender, and social status during a time period when equality was not even considered an
accepted norm. The Qur an provided a vast improvement pertaining to womens rights in
comparison to the situation of women in Arabia prior to the arrival of Islam. For example, many
20


scholars would argue that Prophet Mohammad may be considered the first feminist of his time,
as many radical changes pertaining to womens rights occurred during his time.35 With the
Prophets leadership, women gained many new rights, including the right to possess and
implement full control over their wealth and the right to inherit property. Additionally, strict
limits were placed on polygamy under the prophets guidance.36 However, after the Prophet's
death the treatment of women and womens rights in Islam began to decline and revert back to
pre-Islamic norms.37 The decline in womens rights was simply the result of reverting to tribal
norms that were in effect in Arabia prior to the arrival of Islam.
While Islam and, in turn, the Qur an advocates equality between men and women on
many grounds; however, the focus of the thesis will be specifically on the areas of creation,
religious obligations and education. First and foremost, the Qur an states that men and women
are equally created. There are various surahs that address the equality in creation between men
and women. Specifically, surah 16, verse 72 notes, And Allah has made for you mates (and
Companions) of your own nature. 38 This verse confirms that the Qur an advocates equality
between men and women. Additionally, surah 42, verse 11 notes that (He is) the Creator of
Heaven and the Earth: He has made for you a pair from among yourselves. ,39 This verse
further confirms that the Qur an advocates for equality in the creation of men and women. Also,
the Qur an advocates equality between men and women in terms of spiritual status as men. For
example in the Qurans surah 4, verse 124, it is noted that If any do deeds of righteousness-be
they male or female and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be
35Wolfe, Michael. Muhammad- Legacy of a Prophet (PBS, 2002).
http://www.pbs.org/muhammad/muhammadand.shtml
36Young, Kathrine. Women in World Religion (State University of New York Press, 1987)
37AI-Faruqi, Lamya.' "Islamic Traditions and the Feminist Movement: Confrontation or Cooperation."
www.iannah.org
38The Qur'an, Surah 16, Verse 72. www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran/16-bee.php
39The Qur'an, Surah 42, Verse 11. http://www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran/42-counsel.php
21


done to them,40 and surah 74, verse 38 states, Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its
deeds.41 The aforementioned verses confirm that both men and women have the same religious
obligations, which supports the argument that Islam advocates equality between men and
women. It has to be noted that in some cases, Islam favors women and offers women
exemptions from religious obligations based on their gender. For example, a woman is exempt
from fasting and praying five times a day during her menstrual period. In the field of education,
Islam also advocates for equality between men and women. Over the centuries, Muslim scholars
have come to agree to that the word Muslim is made in reference to both men and women.
Consequently, Prophet Mohammad references in the hadith that Muslims have a duty to seek
knowledge. Thus, Islam advocates educational equality between men and women. As is evident
from the hadith Islam requires that women and men acquire knowledge and education. This
implies that Islam advocates for the education of women and encourages women to expand their
knowledge.
Islam in Afghanistan
Today Afghanistan faces the challenge of deciding to embrace democracy while
simultaneously maintaining the values of Islam. The history of Afghanistans foundation and
development is synonymous with a history of struggle and of varying Afghan interpretations of
Islam. While the West is less religiously-oriented in the post-Westphalian international order,
the case of Afghanistan is different, as Islam is deeply rooted in the countrys political and social
structures. In the post-Westphalian international order, Western scholars are often misled to
believe that religion has departed from the political sphere across the globe. The intertwined
relationship of Islam and politics in Afghanistan has a deep historical precedent and,
40The Qur'an, Surah 4, Verse 124. http://www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran/4-women.php
41The Qur'an, Surah 74, Verse 38. http://www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran/74-cloaked-one.php
22


consequently, they continue to operate hand-in-hand. The case of Afghanistan does not fit into
the post-Westphalian concept of the role of religion in society and government; rather, in
contrast to Western secularism, Islam is and will remain an essential element in Afghanistan.
Throughout Afghanistans history, the influence of Islam on society and politics has been
significant. Historically, both religion and culture collectively shaped Afghanistans government
systems. Consequently, Afghan politicians and Islamic legal thinkers, both past and present,
have associated the concept of legitimacy with Islam; in other words, political legitimacy
requires Islam. It is incorrect to view Islams presence in Afghanistan monolithically; there have
been various manifestations of Islam in Afghanistan that policy makers must understand in order
to accurately analyze the different categorizes and interpretations of Islam in the country. Life in
Afghanistan is saturated by Islam, as Islam provides a system of norms and basis for social
morality throughout the country. Because Afghanistan is almost entirely composed of Muslims,
this system of norms has become the way of life in the country. The Islam that functions in
Afghanistan is largely influenced by different tribal codes and traditions. These tribal codes
have shaped a uniquely Afghan variant of Islam that is extremely regressive. This means that
Afghan Islamic scholars have interpreted the Our an and the hadith in ways that are compatible
with Afghan culture. These interpretations are a stark contradiction to other countries
interpretations of Islam.
With respect to the discussion above, it is important to discuss the concept of popular
Islam, which refers to the way in which the religion structures everyday life functions in
Afghanistan, specifically, in that Islam has different interpretations and applications given the
cultural background of the various regions in Afghanistan.42 Thus, for each region in
420livier Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 31.
23


Afghanistan, there are popular interpretations of Islam that are heavily dependent upon a melding
of Islam as shared by general Islamic principles and of local traditions. The result is that popular
Islam provides an understanding of Islam that serves as a system that enjoins good and a belief
that obedience to certain rules ensures economic and social justice. Further, Afghan popular
Islam also operates in light of a mullah, an individual who oversees the daily functions at the
mosque and ultimately controls the religious activity in that specific locality.43 The mullah has
substantial influence on the way Islam is practiced because the mullahs' interpretations are often
regarded as the ultimate teachings of Islam. According to the National Risk and Vulnerability
Report completed by the UNICEF in 2008, the estimated national adult literacy rate in
Afghanistan is approximately 26 per cent 12 per cent for women and 39 per cent for men.44
The mullah is ultimately the interpreter of Islam for the largely illiterate population in
Afghanistan. As a result, the mullahs have an important political role and this role further
legitimizes the strict and uniquely Afghan Islamic interpretations that are used for the daily
functions of life in the country.
The problem becomes that Afghans entertain the regressive interpretations of Islam.45
While Islam is practiced throughout Afghanistan, the various tribes, although within the realm of
their unique interpretations of Islam, also have significant influence in the country. The largest
ethnic group, the Pashtuns, are the most influential group. Tribes in Afghanistan are formulated
through patrilineal descent, and the notional ancestor of all Pashtuns is Qays, who, it is said,
received Islam directly from the Prophet Muhammad. As a result, Pashtuns deny having any
pre-Islamic past or experience of conversion. Being Muslim is thus inseparable from their
43Roy. p. 32.
44Ayari, Farida. "Afghan Female Literacy Centres bring knowledge and new priorities." UNICEF (October 11, 2010).
http://www.unicef.org/mdg/afghanistan_56403.html
45Zakaria. p. 7.
24


Pashtun tribal heritage.46 This connection leads to an overlap of Islamic and tribal norms on
many issues, which has created a way of life based on tribal norms and uniquely Afghan
interpretations of Islam. Islam is frequently interpreted in such a way so as to accommodate the
tribal and paternalistic structures of Afghan society. In other words, in order to satisfy tribal
objectives, Afghans often use Islam as a justification for their actions.
As discussed above, Islam continues to permeate the cultural political and economic
dimensions of the life of Afghan people. This chapter has attempted to make a multi-tiered and
complex argument pertaining to Islam and democracy and the role of Islam in Afghanistan.
First, this chapter has discussed the contending views pertaining to the compatibility of Islam
and democracy. Next, the chapter has attempted to argue that Islam is very important in
Afghanistan and that government legitimacy in Afghanistan is based on Islam. Third, this
chapter has attempted to argue that Islam is not monolithic since at the societal level, the Islam
that is practiced in Afghanistan is largely shaped by tribal norms, which in turn leads to a
regressive interpretation of Islam. Consequently, attempting to democratize a society
characterized by paternalistic rule and tribal order that is also directly influenced by a uniquely
Afghan version of Islam, will take a significant amount of time and effort. Finally, this chapter
has attempted to argue that Islam advocates for womens rights and the repressive measures
taken against women in Afghanistan are not due to the teachings of Islam, but rather due to the
influence of tribal norms associated with a uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam.
46Anderson, Jon. "How Afghans Define Themselves in Relation to Islam," in Revolutions and Rebellions in
Afghanistan, eds. M. Nazif Shahrani and Robert L Canfield (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 274.
25


CHAPTER HI
A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN
This chapter focuses on the history of women in Afghanistan, as it is extremely important
to understand this history in order to analyze the present-day situation of women in Afghanistan.
Additionally, this history is important to analyze and understand because it provides direction on
how womens rights issues should be handled in the present. Although the Taliban came to
power in 1996 and began violations towards women in Afghanistan shortly thereafter, it was not
until the early 2000s that the situation of women came to the forefront of Western media
attention. The barbaric treatment of these women by the Taliban came to symbolize to Western
military powers a justification for war in the name of emancipation of Afghan women.
However, the situation of Afghan women is not unique to the Taliban regime, as there is a
history of oppression of women in Afghanistan. For that reason, this chapter does not merely
analyze the history of women in Afghanistan through an ideological formulation of the situation
of women before and after the Taliban. Rather, the chapter presents an overview of the situation
of Afghan women through a larger historical context and in the context of the Afghan culture.
Women in Afghanistan have been marginalized based on values promoted by the male-
dominated Afghan culture, which at its core treats women as secondary citizens. The cultural
restrictions imposed upon Afghan women are controlled by the Afghan patriarchy. In the
context of the Afghan culture, every aspect of a womans life, including the right to an
education, marriage and style of dress, is controlled by an immediate male member of her family.
While this individual is most commonly an immediate family member, such as a brother, son,
father or husband, there are many distant family members, such as uncles and male cousins who
have equivalent authority over the life of the woman. While these values of the Afghan culture
26


have been an active part of womens lives throughout Afghanistans history, the severity of their
application has varied based on the involvement of Islam in the government.
Some scholars argue that Islam is the basis for the second-tier status of women in
Afghanistan. In doing so they reference surah 2, verse 228, which states that And women shall
have rights similar to rights against them, according to what is equitable. But men have a degree
(of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.47 This verse of the Qur an is
to some degree controversial as it has been interpreted differently by scholars. While some
scholars interpreted this verse to reference the inequality between men and women, others argue
it implies that men are legally obligated to take responsibility for women and does not indicate
that men are superior to women. Additionally, Islam was able to discuss equality of race,
gender, and social status during a time period when equality was not even considered an
accepted norm. A thousand years ago, Islam granted women legal rights to domestic help at the
expense of their husbands.48
Afghanistans Legal System
In attempting to address womens rights in context of the Afghan cultural norms, it is
important to understand the variation and composition of the countrys legal system. As scholar
Thomas Barfield notes, In Afghanistan the legal system has been composed of three competing
parts: the state legal codes, Islamic religious law (shar ia) and local customary law.49 In
attempting to balance societal functions, oftentimes a combination of all three law types have
been utilized; however, the problem is that in the process of attempting to balance the various
types of law, the uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islamic religious law and customary law have
A7The Qur'an. Surah 2, Verse 228. http://www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran/2-cow.php
48Yusuf.
49Barfield, Thomas. Afghan Customary Law and Its Relationship to Formal Judicial Institutions." United States
Institute for Peace, Washington, DC. June 26, 2003. p. 1 http://www.usip.org/files/file/barfield2.pdf
27


somehow managed to become one in the same. In other words, customary law is often
incorrectly assumed to be the same as the shar ia. As Barfield argues, Rural Afghans often
ignore the gap between shar ia law and local custom because they often assume (incorrectly)
that there were none. Surely their own local traditions must be in accord with Islamic law
because they themselves were such good Muslims.50 51 According to Barfield, due to the high
illiteracy rate in Afghanistan, there is widespread misunderstanding of the shar 'ia.
Consequently, there is often confusion in differentiating between what is customary law and
shar ia. In order to understand the problem pertaining to womens rights issues, it is important
to attempt to present a general overview of Afghan customary law.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries colonial powers throughout most of Asia were
able to successfully establish central governments; however, there was no direct colonial rule in
Afghanistan. As a result, local autonomy maintained its legitimacy in Afghanistan more so than
other countries in the region and consequently the government in Kabul was not able to enforce
central authority throughout Afghanistan. Barfield argues that ultimately the weakness of the
central government and the need to preserve order led to the empowerment of customary law in
rural Afghanistan.31 In order words, the legitimacy of customary law was increased as a
response to avoiding anarchy and maintaining order in rural Afghanistan.
Of the various customary laws, Pashtumvali, which is based on Pashtun tribal law codes
that constitute customary law in Afghanistan is the most influential. 52 While there are other
ethnic groups throughout Afghanistan, such as the Hazaras and Tajiks that have customary law
codes to which they are obligated to conform, the dominance of Pashtumvali generally takes
50lbid, p. 28
51lbid, p. 3
52Haring, Ellen. "Mobilizing Identity in the Pashtun Tribal Belt." Small Wars Journal (2010). p. 2
http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/mobilizing-identity-in-the-pashtun-tribal-belt
28


precedence over those of the other ethnic groups, as the Pashtuns are the most influential ethnic
group in Afghanistan. Pashtunwali specifies norms such as honor, hospitality, gender
boundaries, and the institution of jirga, which is & Pashto (One of Afghanistans official
languages) term for a decision-making assembly of male elders and is essential to satisfying
these tribal codes.53 While the Pashtuns consider being Pashtun and practicing Pashtunwali to
be equivalent to being Muslim and adhering to Islamic law, religious scholars often beg to differ.
As the Islamic law to which Pashtun claim to adhere to is a uniquely Afghan interpretation of
Islam, instead of the actual teaching of the religion.
One essential factor of Pashtunwali that is relevant to the discussion on womens rights is
the issue of gender boundaries. Specifically, the concept of purdah, Urdu for veil, refers to the
boundary between men and womens physical space. While Pashtunwali in conformity with its
interpretation of Islam recommends that both men and women conceptually apply purdah,
Pashtuns use purdah to control women and impose a gender segregated order of society
directly against women. Through the concept of namus which makes defense of the honor of
women, Pashtuns often impose further restrictions.54 The central problem with imposing these
restrictions is that Pashtuns claim the restrictions are in accordance with the teachings of Islam,
but in actuality they are a uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam.
History of Islam in Afghanistan
Islam was initially introduced in Afghanistan in the seventh century CE by Muslim
Arabs. These Arabs introduced their religion and cultural influence throughout Afghanistan. In
this process, the Afghan society while observing some values of Islam also observed many of the
patriarchal and restrictive values of the Arab tribal system. While Islam spread throughout
53lbid, p.3
54Barfield. p. 5
29


Afghan society, the understanding of Islamic law was very shallow. Consequently, Afghan tribal
values already in place combined with a version of Arab tribal laws predominated over those of
Islam. Following the introduction of Islam, Afghanistan went from conqueror to conqueror over
the next few centuries. Afghan culture in the 16th and 17th centuries was a mixture of Mughal
influence from India and Safavid influence from Persia. These influences shaped the culture of
Afghan people, who historically were loyal to tribal leaders. Tribal divisions were to some
degree suppressed by an Afghan leader, Ahmad Shah Durrani (1747-1772). Fitzgerald and
Gould note that Ahmad Shah Durrani united the nation of Afghanistan for the first time in
modern history while proceeding to extend Afghan control from Mahshad in northeastern Iran to
Kashmir and Delhi in India.53 In an attempt to unify the divergent tribes throughout
Afghanistan, Durrani set the foundation for what many future kings in Afghanistan attempted to
establish. From Durranis death in 1772 until the late 1890s, Afghanistan lay in the midst of
The Great Game, which is a term used for the strategic wars that took place between Britain
and Russia in attempt to gain control of central Asia.55 56 During this time, womens rights
movements in the United States and European countries were developing, while womens rights
issues in Afghanistan were not discussed.
The 1890s represented the first time that a ruler, Abdur Rahman Khan (1880-1901),
attempted to promulgate Islamic law in Afghan society. Dr. Homa Ahmed-Ghosh notes, Abdur
Rahman tried to change some of the customary laws that were detrimental to womens status.
For instance, he abolished the custom of forcing a woman to marry her deceased husbands next
of kin, raised the age for marriage and gave women the right to divorce in specific
55Fitzgerald, Paul. & Gould, Elizabeth. Afghanistan's Untold Story. (City Lights Books, 2009). p. 29
56Curtis, Mark. "The Great Game: The Reality of Britain's War in Afghanistan" Secret Affairs February 12, 2011.
http://markcurtis.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/the-great-game-the-reality-of-britains-war-in-afghanistan/
30


circumstances.57 The Afghan governments decree indicated that laws must comply with
Islamic law and thus elevated the shar ia. As is evident from the improvements during Abdur
Rahman Khans rule, the implementation of shar ia allowed womens rights issues to be set
forth and discussed. Women in Afghanistan were, for the first time, judged based on the
teachings of Islam, as opposed to those of the Afghan culture. This empowered women with an
opportunity to demand their rights. For example, during this time some of the first schools for
girls were opened in Afghanistan and women began emerging to obtain elementary and
secondary education. Because Islam is much more tolerant of equality and womens rights than
the Afghan culture, these specific values of Islamic rule were not well received by the Afghan
male-dominated society.
After Abdur Rahman Khan, Habibullah Khan came to power and also implemented many
liberal policies pertaining to women. During his rule, Habibullah allowed the return of exiles.
Most importantly, he allowed Mahmud Beg Tarzi to return from exile. As the founder and editor
of an Afghan national newspaper, Tarzi heavily influenced Habibullahs policies pertaining to
women. Ahmed-Ghosh notes, Tarzi was strongly influenced by modem interpretations of
Islamic jurisprudence.58 As a product, Ahmed-Ghosh further notes Tarzi viewed women as
people who deserved full citizenship; he claimed that educated women were an asset to future
generations and concluded that Islam did not deny them equal rights. Opposition to these
reforms by the tribal leaders led to Habibullah Khans assassination in 1919.
King Amanullah's ten year- reign (1919-1929) initiated a period of dramatic change in
Afghanistan in both foreign and domestic politics; however, his secular policies were at odds
57Ahmed-Ghosh, Homa. "A History of Women in Afghanistan: Lessons Learnt for the Future." Journal of
International Women's Studies (May 2003). Vol. 4 No. 3. p. 3
58lbid. p. 3
31


with the Pan Islamic movement embraced by Muslim leaders in South Asia and the Arab Middle
East. After returning from a tour of the Middle East and Europe, Amanullah initiated secular
reforms throughout the country.59 This new momentum toward secularization resulted in a
backlash against womens rights by conservative social forces. For example, Amanullah drew
up a written constitution, and attempted to create, a secular framework within which the
monarch and government could operate, and to define the relationship between religion and the
state.60 Amanullahs attempt to separate the state from religion was very unpopular.
Specifically, the mullahs as a very influential sector of society aggressively opposed the reforms.
Amanullah was overthrown when he attempted to address the extremely sensitive topic of
womens rights by discouraging the veil and the oppression of women, and abolishing slavery
and forced labor and introducing secular education as well as education for girls and nomads.61
After implementing these reforms, Amanullah was forced out of Kabul by the mullahs, who
deemed his ways contradictory to Islam.62 This determination was based on the mullahs
interpretations of Islam and not of the actual teachings of the religion.
It took another 30 years before Mohammad Daoud as Prime Minister of Afghanistan
(1973 to 1978) officially encouraged gradual reforms for women in Afghanistan.63 In an attempt
to maintain a balance between secularism and Islam, the government of Afghanistan went
through a series of constitutional updates and reforms relating to women's rights in the 1960s and
1970s; however, their effect was largely limited to women in urban areas of Afghanistan. It is
interesting to note that in 1965, the government of Afghanistan submitted a document to the
59lbid. p. 5
60Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: A New History. (Cruzon Press, 2001). p. 93
61Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 62
62Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 6
63Cordovez, Diego. & Flarrison, Selig, S. Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal. (Oxford
University Press, 1995). p. 19
32


Commission on the Status of Women addressing the issue of a UN Declaration on Eliminating
Discrimination against Women. The document specifically stated that eliminating
discrimination required "combating of traditions, customs, and usages which thwart the
advancement of women,"64 and went on to advocate the use of affirmative action policies to aid
women in overcoming the discrimination they faced. One such policy was the 1977
Constitution, which declared Islam the religion of Afghanistan.65 The 1977 Constitution was
aimed at attempting to re-implement Islam in the system of governance. When Islams role in
the constitution of Afghanistan reemerged, so did some policies pertaining womens rights in the
country.
Similar to the changing role of Islam in the Afghan government, women in Afghanistan
were experiencing social changes as well. These reforms were mainly the result of Amanullahs
experience gained during his tour of Europe and the Middle East. In the 1920s upper class urban
women appeared in French style attire on the streets, which was followed by the next decades
prohibition on appearing unveiled. Again within three decades, in the 1950s, appearing unveiled
became a choice for upper class urban women in Afghanistan.66 It was during this period that
education in Afghanistan became co-educational and schools enrolling both boys and girls were
started. It is important to understand that the social changes pertaining to women in Afghanistan
were limited to the upper and middle class Afghan women in the cities and did not affect rural
women.
64lsby, David, G. War in a Distant Country, Afghanistan: Invasion and Resistance. (London: Arm and Armour Press,
1989). p. 39
65Cordovez & Harrison, p. 17
Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 97
33


The Soviet Invasion
The most drastic change occurred with the December 1979 Soviet invasion, which
permanently changed the course of Afghanistans history. When the Communist regime in
Kabul took control, they almost immediately questioned the authority of Islam based on their
communist beliefs, which dismissed the concept of God and religion. Simultaneously, the new
regime questioned the authority of the cultural norms that existed in Afghanistan. In other
words, the Soviet Union essentially challenged the entire infrastructure of Afghan society, which
was balanced to some degree on tribal norms and an Afghan version of Islam. During this time,
some social changes came about for Afghan women; however, there was very limited change at
the infrastructure level. The 1978-88 decade is often referred to as the decade of change.67 For
example, during this period some urban women socialized in dances clubs, some worked in
factories and dowry was outlawed. While these changes were incorporated, the changes stripped
Afghan people of the two most fundamental aspects of their lives, Islam and culture.
Although the Soviet Union had established ties with Afghanistan since the 1920s, it was
not able to establish a supportive government in the country until the late 1970s.68 In 1978, a
pro-Soviet President Nur M. Taraki came to power through a violent military coup. Although
Taraki announced liberal programs to reconstruct the entire social structure of Afghanistan, his
regime did not have popular support. The communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
obtained control of Afghanistan and attempted to institute radical reforms affecting the rights and
status of women.69 These reforms included the prohibition of a number of cultural practices with
regard to marriage and family law that were widely considered and claimed to be "Islamic"
67Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 107
68Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 122
69Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 130
34


within Afghan society. These practices were merely the uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam
in the context of the patriarchal Afghan culture that was being imposed on women. However, in
order justify their presence in Afghanistan and gain support for the Communist ideology, the
Soviet Union constructed policy to present Islam as a repressive religion that had to be
undermined in order to free the people of Afghanistan. This policy by the Soviet Union was not
well received, as Islam is inseparable from Afghan society.
In 1979 when the Soviet Union formally invaded Afghanistan, it did so in the wake of
extreme public opposition, creating great challenges for the Soviet Union in maintaining its
legitimacy in Afghanistan. During this time, the Soviet Union and the United States were
engaged in the Cold War. The ultimate competition of the Cold War was based on a global
desire for expanding each superpowers ideological influence. Thus, the United States was
deeply interested in ensuring Soviet failure in Afghanistan. In an attempt to encourage this
failure, the United States began various covert operations aimed at undermining the Soviet
Union.
The Mujahidin-Occupied Afghanistan
In response to the Soviet invasion, a resistance group, the Mujahidin (Islamic fighters)
formed.70 Although the Mujahidin divided into several factions, they rallied around a central
Islamic theme. The Mujahidin were the main recipients of foreign aid, specifically U.S. aid, as
the superpower attempted to undermine the Soviet Union. As the Soviet-U.S. rivalry was fought
in then communist-controlled Afghanistan, some urban Afghan women were quickly adapting to
Western ways, but simply in terms of appearance. In other words, while women in Afghanistan
70Arbabzadah, Nushin. "The 1980s Mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad." The Guardian. Thursday
April 28, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/28/afghanistan-muiahideen-taliban
35


were adapting a Western style of clothing and other such simple things they were simultaneously
constant targets of abuse by the male dominated society in Afghanistan.
Throughout the 1980s the main focus domestically and internationally was the
communist-anticommunist division in Afghanistan. Women who were associated with the
communist sector were portrayed in context of the values of western ideology. In other words,
the women living in Afghanistan were showcased as samples of freedom brought about by the
Soviet invasion and demolishment of Islamic values and Afghan culture. On the other hand, the
\)ro-Mujahidin women were simply that, women who supported the cause of the Mujahidin.
Afghan women during this period were merely used as symbols by each side, with neither
focusing on the individual woman as a human being. In both cases, Afghan women during this
period worked as teachers, nurses, doctors and also served in many service-based positions.
Based on the above discussion, it can be argued that both Islamic and Western values supported
womens active participation in society during the Afghan-Soviet conflict. However, it has to be
noted that regardless of satisfying these need-based positions, little attention was given to the
actual rights of Afghan women who continued to be marginalized at all levels of society.
With the support of foreign aid the Mujahidin were ultimately successful in driving out
the Soviets in 1989, but not in their attempts to construct a political alternative to govern
Afghanistan after their victory.71 Consequently, civil war quickly broke out between the
different factions of the Mujahidin. The newly established Mujahidin government gradually
failed to maintain its legitimacy in the wake of dissipating foreign aid. Since 1979, foreign aid
mainly from Saudi Arabia and the United States sustained the Mujahidin movement; however,
71Arbabzadah.
36


when this aid gradually began to decrease so did the Mujahidins ability to remain in power. 72
As a 1999 Amnesty International report asserts, During the conflict and civil war in the 1980s
and 1990s, particularly between 1992 and 1995, armed factions turned the traditional norms of
honor and shame into weapons of war, engaging in rape and sexual assault against women of
opposing groups as an ultimate means of dishonoring entire communities and reducing people's
capacities to resist military advances.73 Throughout Afghanistan people experienced extortion,
kidnapping, burglary, and acts of dishonoring women. The Mujahidin had forfeited the trust they
once enjoyed. For example, armed guards engaged in rape and sexual assault against women as
an ultimate means of dishonoring entire communities and reducing people's capacity to resist
military advances. In short, the Mujahidin rejected the reforms instituted by Islam and even the
communist government and demanded a return of women to their traditional roles, arguing that
this restricted role for women was part of Islam. In reality, this restricted role was part of the
Mujahidins ideology and not in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
The Taliban- Occupied Afghanistan
A combination of civil war and economic distress allowed for a more radical group, the
Taliban, to officially come to power in 1996.74 The Taliban may be classified as the most
horrific chapter in the history of Afghanistan. The Taliban implemented a unique version of
Islamic teachings to satisfy their selfish and fundamentalist interests, as they attempted to
preserve the classical period of Islam that existed after the death of Prophet Mohammed. This is
a misinterpretation of Islam because Islam, as a religion, advocates for adapting with society and
accepting change; rather than going back in time. The concept of ijtihad, which guides Muslims
72Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 213
73Amnesty International, 1999, Women in Afghanistan: Pawns in Men's Power Struggles, Al Index: ASA November
01,1999. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASAll/011/1999
74Gasper, Phil. "Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban" International Socialist Review, November-
December 2001. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Afghanistan/Afghanistan_CIA_Taliban.html
37


to adapt to new trends so as to ensure self-progress as well as communal progress, confirms that
Islam advocates change to accommodate oneself and society.75 The main cause for preserving
the notion of classical Islam was due to the lack of general education among the Taliban, who
were mainly orphans of displaced Afghan Pashtun tribal groups living in refugee camps in the
North-West Frontier Province in the summer of 1994.76 These orphans received education in
religious madrassas that taught an extremely strict version of Islam fundamentalism.
Consequently, the Taliban quickly manipulated the teachings of Islam to implement laws for
their own benefit. As scholar Ahmed Rashid asserts, The Taliban represented nobody but
themselves and they recognized no Islam except their own.77 In other words, the Taliban
attempted to rule based on an extremely fundamentalist version of what they interpreted as the
teachings of Islam. In reality the Talibans version of Islam was completely contradictory to the
actual values of the religion.
The Taliban imposed a brutal and oppressive rule on the people of Afghanistan, and the
women suffered most traumatically. While initially, the disgraceful crimes committed by the
Mujahidin had made even the Taliban a welcomed regime in Afghanistan, it was soon realized
that the practices of the Taliban were simply inhumane. The only positive aspect of the Taliban
regime was their ability to restore security throughout the country.78 They decreased crime and
corruption and made the streets a safer place to be and in return wanted Afghans to make a big
sacrifice: submission of the heart, body and mind. Although the Taliban claimed to base their
ruling on the teachings of Islam, every act practiced by them was in stark contradiction to Islam.
75Khan, M. A. Muqtedar. "Common Ground: Two theories of ijtihad." March 22, 2006
http://www.upi.com/Business News/Securitv-lndustrv/2006/03/22/Common-Ground-Two-theories-of-
iitihad/U PI-47791143060954/
76Fitzgerald & Gould, p. 223
77Rashid, Ahmed. 2000. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. (Yale University Press,
2000). pp. 88 & 113
78Gasper.
38


Steven Oftinoski notes, As Islamic extremists, the Talibans interpretation of Islamic law was
rigid and unyielding.79 While in reality, Islam is a religion that yields to circumstances and
takes into consideration the situation at hand.
Even though women in Afghanistan have been oppressed for centuries according to
Western standards, they hardly knew true oppression until the atrocious Taliban regime. The
lives of Afghan women were shattered in the human rights catastrophe that devastated
Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. The regime was not hesitant in restricting the rights and
public roles of women. Quickly, policy was implemented which abolished womens rights,
including the rights to association, freedom of expression and employment.80 For example, they
outlawed the public appearance of women and prohibited them from participation in every aspect
of public life. While Islam does not advocate what the Taliban were implementing in
Afghanistan, internationally, the Taliban quickly became known as representatives of Islam.
The atrocities brought forward by the Taliban were publicized by Western media, which
included forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes
unless accompanied by a husband, father, brother or son.81 Further, women were obligated to be
covered from head to toe in the traditional burqa, an enveloping outer garment. One of the most
inept policies implemented by the Taliban was to segregate men and women into separate
hospitals.82 This policy contradicted itself in that the medical workers in these hospitals were
males, because female medical workers were banned from working. In other words, women
were completely denied health care. Taliban policies that restricted women's rights and denied
basic needs were often brutally and arbitrary enforced by the "religious police" usually in the
79Oftinoski, Steven. Nations in Transition: Afghanistan. (Facts On File Inc., 2004), p. 32
so-
Gasper.
81Gasper.
82Rashid, p. 113
39


form of public beatings. These actions taken by the Taliban were self-servingly associated with
the teachings of Islam, which is simply a fabrication.
The previous historical overview has demonstrated that the womens rights violations in
Afghanistan were not the result of Islam as is often portrayed by the West. Rather, the womens
rights violations in Afghanistan contradict the teachings of Islam and stem from a uniquely
Afghan interpretation of Islam that is heavily influenced by the male-dominated society in
Afghanistan. The situation of Afghan women is often presented in light of Islam. In other
words, the West claims that the womens rights abuses that exist in Afghanistan stem from
Islam. In reality, the treatment of women under the Taliban was simply the result of a
fundamentalist group that did not even understand the true values of Islam.
Along with the rest of the Afghan population, Afghan women also continued to suffer
throughout the regime of the Taliban. As author Jonathan Steele asserts, Finally, in October
2001, the United States responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and cracked down on the regime,
not for their catastrophic actions toward Afghan women, which had been going on for five years,
but for providing a bases of operation for Osama bin Laden.83 However, the rhetoric used by
the United States prior to its invasion of Afghanistan brought a new hope for Afghan women.
The main rationale that the United States put forward was eliminating A1 Qaeda. According to
Oftenoski the relief felt throughout Afghanistan was immediate and infectious. The terrible rule
of the Taliban had been lifted and the populace rejoiced in its newfound freedom. It was time to
begin rebuilding a devastated country after more than two decades of harsh rule, war and
displacement.84 Although the rebuilding began quickly, it failed to address the core issues of
83Steele, Jonathan. "Osama bin Laden: the legacy for Afghanistan" The Guardian. May 02, 2011.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mav/02/osama-bin-laden-afghanistan
84Oftinoski, p. 38
40


the country. Afghanistans history in the period after the Unites States invasion will be
discussed in the following chapter.
41


CHAPTER IV
THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN SINCE 2001
This chapter analyzes the situation of women in Afghanistan in the post-Taliban period in
context of the following issues. First, and most importantly, this chapter discusses the role of the
United States relating to womens rights in Afghanistan and argues that the United States has not
fulfilled the initial promises made for Afghan women. In doing so, the chapter focuses on the
minimal achievements of the United States in the field of womens rights. Additionally, this
chapter provides an overview of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan
(NAPWA). Next, the chapter presents an overview of womens rights under the Karzai
government, which discusses Karzais alternating policies pertaining to womens rights, the
ineffectiveness of the Ministry of Womens Affairs, and the lack of a uniform legal system in
Afghanistan. The latter part of the chapter focuses on the continuing threat of the Taliban in
Afghan society and the recent negotiations with the Taliban.
Under the Taliban regime, the United Nations and its most influential member, the
United States, showed a general willingness to tolerate the violations that were occurring against
women in Afghanistan as the United States was not taking any action against the Taliban or the
repressive regimes that were in power before the Taliban. For example, the United States was
providing aid to the mujhideen, who, as discussed in Chapter three, committed mass violations
against women in Afghanistan. While women's rights advocates were using the term "Gender
Apartheid" to convey the message that the rights violations experienced by Afghan women
were in substance no different than those experienced by blacks in Apartheid South Africa,85
85Verdirame, Guglielmo. "Testing the Effectiveness of International Norms, UN Humanitarian Assistance and
Sexual Apartheid in Afghanistan." Human Rights Quarterly, (August 2001) Vol. 23 No.3 pp. 733-768.
42


Afghan women continued to be ignored. It took five years and the retaliation associated with the
9/11 attacks for the United States to seriously consider the issue of womens rights in
Afghanistan as an urgent problem that required immediate attention.
The U.S.-Occupied Afghanistan
In 2001, the United States used womens rights violations as one of the primary
rationales and justifications for intervention in Afghanistan. In a November 2001 radio address,
First Lady Laura Bush claimed that the intervention in Afghanistan led to emancipation of
Afghan women. She noted, a world-wide effort to focus on the brutality against women and
children by the al-Qaida terrorist network and the regime it supports in Afghanistan, the Taliban.
. .the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.86 Laura Bushs
speech shows that the United States was using womens emancipation as one of main
justifications for invading Afghanistan. At the same time, Afghanistan, with encouragement
from the West, began addressing the violations of womens rights that Afghan women were
experiencing. However, since that time, both Afghanistan and the United States have had
limited accomplishments pertaining to womens rights in the country. Specifically, the following
mechanisms were employed to address womens rights issues, at least on paper: the
establishment of the Ministry of Womens Affairs (MOWA) and implementation of the quota
system that called for 27 % quota of reserved seats in the lower house of parliament and 17 %
quota of reserved seats in the upper house of parliament, as well as the right of women to vote in
elections.87 In addition, development in the areas of education for women, health, and
86Radio Address by Laura Bush to the Nation (November 17 2001) http://avalon.law.vale.edu/septll/fl 001.asp
87Dalherup, Drude & Nordlund, Anja. "Gender Quotas- a key to equality?" A Case Study of Iraq & Afghanistan.
European Political Science (2004). Vol. 3. No. 3. pp. 91-98
43


socioeconomic status were on the agenda of the National Action Plan for the Women of
Afghanistan (NAPWA).
As a result of the 2001 Bonn Agreement, an interim government was appointed to handle
Afghanistans affairs; through the jirga the pro-U.S., Hamid Karzai was announced as interim
president in 2002. The results of the election was announced through a United Nations count
that .of the 1,555 votes cast, 1,295 were for Hamid Karzai.88 While the media constantly
debated the nature of the voting system and issue of buying votes, it was announced that Karzai
was elected president by an overwhelming majority.89 Shortly after, aid from the United States
and its allies began flowing into Afghanistan; however, most of this aid was only partially being
used for the intended purpose. As historian Steven Oftinoski stated, Even with millions of
dollars in aid, there are few government resources to relieve widespread hunger, disease, and
poverty.90 Regardless of billions of dollars in aid monies flowing into the country, Afghanistan
continues to suffer from poverty, a fragile educational system, and lack of human and womens
rights.
Women in Afghanistan are largely subject to serious violations of their rights, which
challenge their development as human beings. In referencing the situation of women in
Afghanistan, NAPWA notes, their situation is particularly poor in the areas of health,
deprivation of rights, protection against violence, economic productivity, education and literacy,
and public participation.91 This description of the situation of Afghan women shows that they
88Mills, Nick. B, Karzai: The failing American Intervention and the Struggle for Afghanistan. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,
2007). p. 188
ssGall, Carlotta. "Election of Karzai Is Declared Official" New York Times November 4, 2004.
http://www.nvtimes.com/2004/ll/04/international/asia/04afghan.html
90Oftinoski, p. 39
91National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan. The Government's Main Vehicle for Implementing Policies and
Commitments to Advance the Status of Women. 2007-2017 p. 11
44


continue to suffer since the decade long U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. As noted by Gideon
Rachman, Even under the current government, the situation of Afghan women is pretty grim.
Last week Human Rights Watch released a report highlighting the hundreds of women who are
currently jailed in Afghanistan for moral crimes, such as resisting a forced marriage, or even
complaining about rape.92 While these women in most cases have simply demanded their rights
as humans, under the Karzai government (and despite the guaranteed constitutional equality),
this has been translated to be considered a moral crime.
Ministry of Womens Affairs
As an initial step in addressing womens rights, the Bonn Agreement called for
establishment of the Ministry of Womens Affairs (MOW A), which is dedicated to womens
affairs and advancement. While MOWA was initiated as part of the program to improve
womens situation in Afghanistan, the aid money provided by the West was not allocated to
MOWA, which had to rely on funds from a Canadian NGO, Rights and Democracy in 2002.93
As Suzanne Goldenberg outlines, Dr. Sima Samar, who was the Minister of Women's Affairs at
that time, complained about not receiving aid or even an office from which to operate.94 At the
same time, former Afghan Mujahidin were receiving millions of dollars in aid money.95 The
initial failure to fund MOWA casts doubt on the sincerity of the United States desire to help
Afghan women. As referenced in the November 2001 radio address, Laura Bush noted,
because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned
http://sgdatabase.unwomen.org/uploads/National%20Action%20Plan%20for%20the%20Women%20of%20Afghan
istan%202007%20to%202017.pdf
92Rachman, Gideon. 'The west has lost in Afghanistan." Columnists. March 26, 2012.
http://www.ft.eom/intl/cms/s/0/ael3198c-74el-llel-ab8b-00144feab49a.html#axzzlqpZ4BQIb
93Rights and Democracy. "Afghanistan: Support for ministry of women's affairs" http://www.ichrdd.ca February
23,2002
94Goldenberg, Suzanne. "Cash not compassion is what women need" The Guardian January 16, 2002.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/ian/17/afghanistan.suzannegoldenberg
95Gasper.
45


in their homes.96 As is evident from this statement by Laura Bush, despite very minimal
achievements, the United States was not hesitant in issuing official statements claiming that the
women of Afghanistan were quickly liberated through the military advancement of the United
States in Afghanistan.
After its establishment, despite advocating for womens rights, MOWA has been
criticized for its motives and for its ability to genuinely help Afghan women. Since 2002, the
ministry has witnessed four ministers. Also, similarly to the parliamentarians who will be
discussed later in the chapter, ministers of the Ministry of Womens Affairs are considered
subjects rather than participants in the political process, and often associated with warlords who
hinder womens rights. Often MOWA is associated with being part of the central government
and while it is included in the discussions/processes, it has little influence on having a
perspective on reconstruction of Afghanistan. Additionally, MOWA is often criticized as an
extension of the corrupt Karzai government that simply advances the same polices as the Karzai
government. Consequently, in a recent case regarding control over womens shelters in
Afghanistan, concern regarding MOWAs genuine motives was voiced. A recent report noted,
The women who run the shelters rightly see the MoWA legislation as an insulting provision that
will re-victimise women.97 This shows that there is little confidence in this supposed body of
government dedicated to advancement and equality of Afghan women.
One major accomplishment in the field of womens rights was the signing of the
Declaration of Essential Rights of Afghan Women in March of 2003. As Jan Goodwin notes,
this emancipation document guarantees equality between men and women, equal protection
96Radio Address by Laura Bush.
97Mosadiq, Horia. Amnesty International's Afghanistan Researcher. February 14, 2011 http://www.wluml.org/zh-
hans/node/6965
46


under the law, equal right to education in all disciplines, freedom of movement, freedom of
speech and political participation, and freedom to wear or not wear the burqa or any form of
head covering.98 As a signatory of this emancipation documentation, Afghanistan, at least in
theory, is obligated to guarantee equality between men and women. While signing the document
was a positive step in the right direction, achieving advances in womens rights in Afghanistans
patriarchal society is often very difficult. Moreover, Afghanistan has entered into numerous
treaties and ratified various Conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.99 This in
turn implies that Afghanistan has an international obligation to protect Afghan women.
Regardless, the central problem pertaining to womens rights, which is attempting to
decode the structure of Afghan society, has yet to be addressed. As discussed in Chapter two,
understanding Islams compatibility with democracy, and Islams centrality to Afghans, is
important; however, the way Islam is understood in Afghanistan is for the most part actually
based on tribal customs, which are authoritarian and patriarchal. Therefore, decoding these tribal
customs and authoritarian traditions is essential for bringing about emancipation of Afghan
women.
Afghanistan also has a constitution that advocates gender equality. According to Dr. Lau,
the Constitution of Afghanistan, passed by the Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2003 and ratified by
Karzai in 2004, proclaims that 'any kind of discrimination and privilege among the citizens of
Afghanistan is prohibited (Article 22), and the citizens of Afghanistan have equal rights and
98Goodwin, Jan. "An Uneasy Peace" The Nation April 29, 2002. http://www.thenation.com/article/uneasy-peace
"Rights and Democracy.
47


duties before the law (Article 23).100 This is by default taken to indicate constitutionally
guaranteed equality of men and women in the country. Although constitutionally-guaranteed,
the rights of Afghan women are jeopardized due to the cultural norms of the country and
uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam.
Another major factor in addressing the current situation of women in Afghanistan
pertains to the countrys legal system. According to research conducted by the International
Commission of Jurists and a report presented by Dr. Martin Lau, Afghanistan does not have a
uniform legal system.101 With lack of a uniform legal system, it is virtually impossible for
change pertaining to womens rights to be imposed from above. Consequently, as citizens,
Afghan women face constitutional equality but legal inequality. As discussed in the previous
chapter, it is difficult to have these constitutional provisions implemented because of the
weakness of the central government, which has historically been a factor in Afghanistan.
The United States has been partially successful in enacting some different legislation for
the women in Afghanistan. First, the United States compelled quota legislation for women in the
Afghan Constitution, which resulted in an increased number of women in the Afghan political
sphere. Prior to completing the quota legislation, the pro-U.S. Karzai also took steps toward
emancipation of women. The direction of Afghanistans future was partially headed in the right
direction in the early years following the U.S. Invasion, as clear-cut policies were being initiated,
at least on paper.
To cite improvements to womens rights United States officials often refer to the 2004
Constitution of Afghanistan, which in total accomplished three different things: gave women the
100 Lau, Martin. "Afghanistan's Legal System and its Compatibility with International Human Rights Standards"
International Commission of Jurists, p. 6
101lbid. p. 8
48


right to vote in elections, serve in the government, and be elected to the parliament. In
incorporating electoral gender quota policies to mandate participation of women in the new
political system, the constitution obtained one of the main achievements in the field of womens
rights. Specifically, 27 % of the seats in the lower house of parliament andl7 % of seats for
women in the upper house are reserved for women. 102 Krook, OBrien, and Swip point out that
To fill the former, the Electoral Commission allocated reserved seats to each province based on
the size of its population until the total number of female representatives mirrored the
constitutional mandate.103 As a result of this policy, women form 27 % of members of
parliament in Afghanistan. While the United States references this percentage of women
parliamentarians as a sign of the freedom of women in Afghanistan and consequently the United
States success in the country, in reality these women are not full participants in the process.
The women parliamentarians in Afghanistan are largely subjects rather than participants
in the political process, as they are virtually absent as participants. Scholars David Cortright and
Sarah Smiles Persinger argue that many women parliamentarians are aligned with warlords and
vote according to their sectarian and factional interests, rather than in support of womens rights
issues.104 Although on occasion women act as spokespersons and hold press conferences, they
ultimately simply reiterate Karzais policies and do not have a distinct voice. Rather, the women
parliamentarians simply affirm the conclusions dictated by the men in charge, with the exception
of at least one, Malalai Joya. As Tom Coghlan notes, She has made her name as a woman's
102Dalherup & Nordlund.
103Krook, Mona L. O'Brien, Diana Z. &Swip, Krista M. "Military Invasion and Women's Political
RepresentationInternational Feminist Journal of Politics. (2010). Vol. 12. No. 1. pp. 66-79
104Cortright, David, and Sarah Smiles Persinger. Afghan Women Speak: Enhancing Security and Human Rights in
Afghanistan. October 2010. http://www.peacewomen.org/portal_resources_resource.php?id=1462
49


rights activist who has attacked Afghanistan's most powerful institution, the mujhideen. 105 Joya
has been openly critical of the injustices committed by members of Karzais government. In
2007, the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament voted to suspend Joya for comments she made
during a television interview the previous day.106 Joyas critical openness caused her suspension
from the Parliament. Additionally, it has to be noted that these women in the parliament do not
constitute more than a few hundred women out of Afghanistans entire population. Even still,
they are show-figures and have no actual say in the ultimate decision making process, as the
decisions and policies for the Afghan government, including womens rights issues, are
administered by Karzai and his male-dominated government.
National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan
In 2006, Afghanistan, under the guidance of the international community, signed the
Afghan Compact, a commitment to begin the national rebuilding process through an agenda
focused on security, governance, rule of law, and human rights, as well as economic and social
development for women in Afghanistan. 107 In an attempt to fulfilled this commitment, the
Afghan National Development Strategy was established, which later led to the development of
the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). As outlined in NAPWA, both
the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) reiterate
a commitment to implement the Constitutional guarantees of non-discrimination and equality of
women and men in rights and duties.108 The ultimate goal of NAPWA was to ensure the three
main themes of the United Nations Decade for Women peace, development, and equality,
105Coghlan, Tom. "Afghan MP says she will not be silenced" BBC News. January 27, 2006.
http://news.bbc.co.Uk/2/hi/south_asia/4606174.stm
106RAWA. "Afghanistan: Member of Parliament, Malalai Joya, suspended for 'criticizing colleagues'" May 2007.
http://www.wluml.org/zh-hans/node/3727
107National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan.
108lbid, p. 12
50


through the promotion of institutions and individuals to be responsible implementers of
womens empowerment and gender equality.109 According to NAPWA, this would be
accomplished through participation, support, and partnership between and among women and
men.110 NAPWA focuses on six sectors that are necessary for increasing the improvement of
womens status in Afghanistan. The sectors are as follows: security, legal protection and human
rights, leadership and political participation, economy, work and poverty, health and education.
In the field of security, the government of Afghanistan asserted that security is a
prerequisite to womens rights. Through the NAPWA, the government of Afghanistan seeks to
create a secure environment for women to ensure their empowerment. Despite these goals,
Afghan women have not obtained any level of increased security. While as result of the quota
system and other such programs there has been an increase in the contribution and participation
of women in the public sphere, this has simultaneously led to the vulnerability of Afghan women
to attacks, harassment, and aggression. According to NAPWA, Laws and protective measures
have not yet been developed in this regard, and women have to endure living in fear and anxiety
in the course of fulfilling their civic obligations and contributing to nation building.111 In a
recent article, Sam Zarifi, Director of Amnesty International, referenced the drive-by shooting of
Provincial Council member, Nida Khyani, as another causality of the systematic violent
targeting of women in public life in Afghanistan.112 This is indicative of the fact that while
NAPWA claimed security as one of its pillars for Afghanistan, it has failed to adequately protect
women in the public sphere. Additionally, although Afghanistan is a signatory of the UN
Declaration of Elimination of Violence Against Women, it has failed to comply with the
109lbid, p. 13
110lbid, p. 14
mlbid, p. 27
112Amnesty International. "Afghanistan: Attack on female politician highlights growing risk to women." April 09,
2010. http://www.wluml.org/node/6165
51


requirements of this document. This also confirms that the Afghan government has failed to
provide legal protection and human rights for women in Afghanistan. However, it has to be
noted that one aspect of NAPWAs security sector is the affirmative action policy. NAPWA
states that in accordance with the governments commitment to empower women, the Ministries
of Interior and Defense will devise a strategy to attain a minimum 20 percent increase over a
period of 10 years in the current level of women's representation in their respective
ministries.113 By increasing the number of women in the Interior and Defense Ministries, the
direct involvement in enforcement of policies may assist in furthering womens rights. While
there has been a gradual increase in the number of women in the Ministries of Interior and
Defense, there is a high level of discrimination against women participating in these sectors.
Other sectors that NAPWA deems important for empowerment of womens rights and
requires improvement of include the following: leadership and political participation, economy,
health and education for women. As outlined in the preceding paragraphs, there has some been
an increased number of women in the Afghan government; however, the effectiveness and
improvement of womens political participation is subject to debate as many argue that these
women are simply showcased for advancement of justice for women in Afghanistan but do not
have any substantial roles.
As for educational improvement, an in-depth analysis of the improvement of education in
Afghanistan shows that while there has been improvement in the education system, the
improvement is limited to a small sector of the urban society. In showcasing its success in
Afghanistan, the United States often times references the improved educational system of the
country. The United States has helped facilitate the enrollment of students and an increased
113National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan.
52


number of schools in Afghanistan. While there has been a significant increase in enrollment
since 2001, there are serious constraints pertaining to womens education. Specifically, girls
access to schools is limited due to the lack of school facilities, in particular girls schools and
girls secondary schools, lack of female teachers, and insecurity. According to a World Bank
Report, Afghanistan: National Reconstruction and Poverty Reduction the Role of Women in
Afghanistan's Future, prepared using information from Central Office of Statistics & UNICEF,
2004, Afghanistan saw the highest school enrollment rates in its history, with more than 4.3
million children enrolled in primary and secondary school in 2003, of which one-third were girls.
In the age group 7-12 years, 67% of boys and 40.5% of girls were enrolled.114 One important
factor to be noted is that there are significant disparities both on a rural-urban basis, as well as on
a regional level. As the World Bank report notes, the spurt in enrollment still represents only a
little more than half of school-age children and 40% of the girls. Moreover, these figures hide
dramatic regional and urban-rural disparities, with girls representing less than 15% of total
enrollment in nine provinces in the east and south.115
In analyzing the health improvements for women in Afghanistan as part of NAPWAs
womens empowerment strategy, it is important to understand the magnitude of the problem
surrounding womens health in Afghanistan. As NAPWA outlines, Afghan women are among
the worst off women in the world as measured by high fertility, low relative and absolute life
expectancy, extremely high Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR), malnutrition, and other
indicators. 116With this dire condition of health care in the country, NAPWA set forth a plan for
betterment of medical services and infrastructure throughout the country and (most importantly)
114World Bank. "Afghanistan: National Reconstruction and Poverty Reduction the Role of Women in
Afghanistan's Future." (March 2005). p. 34
115lbid. p. 33
116lbid. p. 72
53


for women in the rural parts of Afghanistan. It is important to note that the accessibility of
health care facilities has historically been a concern for Afghanistan. Additionally, the report
advises that people, and (most importantly) women in rural areas, do not have access to health
care facilities as much as women in Kabul do. Referencing information gathered from UNICEF
and CDC, 2002 reports, In 2002 there was one female nurse per 58,988 of population in Balkh
Province, while there was one female nurse per 470,500 populations in Ghor Province. . In
Nimroz, Paktika and Khost Provinces, there was not a single basic health facility providing
delivery care services with a female physician, doctor's assistant, nurse or midwife.117
Additionally, NAPWA, in referencing Article 54 of the Afghan Constitution, notes the
State will adopt necessary measures to ensure physical and psychological well-being of the
family, especially of child and mother. Despite this commitment, the Afghan government does
not dedicate a generous budget to the countrys health care program. According to a recent news
article from Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAW A), Afghanistan's
government and foreign donors spend barely $10 a person on health.118 This is inductive that
while the NAPWA aimed at medical facility improvements for women in Afghanistan, the
government is not allocating sufficient funds for the health care sector.
Despite being a signatory on different emancipatory documents, Karzais policies have
lacked support for womens rights. In 2009, Karzai signed the Shi a Family Law, which had a
controversial provision that many womens rights advocates argued legalized marital rape. 119
While the law was intended to regulate family life inside Afghanistan's Shiite community, which
makes up about 20 % of this country of 30 million people, in actuality it undermined
117lbid p. 24
llsTaylor, Rob. "Impoverished Afghans shouldering burden of health care." April 17, 2011.
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2011/04/17/impoverished-afghans-shouldering-burden-of-health-care.html
119Starkey, Jerome. Afghanistan: Karzai accused of bid to 'legalise rape.'" The Independent. March 31, 2009
54


constitutional and human rights of women in Afghanistan. Jerome Starkey references a quote
from a women parliamentarian, Shinkai Karokhail, who vigorously campaigned against the
legislation, "It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."120
This law drew wide criticism from the West, who also referenced its concern for womens rights
in Afghanistan. Despite opposition from international and Afghan womens rights activists, the
bill was signed to law. It required a tremendous amount of pressure from womens activist
groups for Karzai to revise the law to some degree; the revised version of the law, in contrast to
the original version, does not require a woman to submit to sex with her husband.
Although the United States has failed to improve living conditions for women, U.S.
policy makers are hesitant to accept their failure. Moreover, while the Karzai Administration
occasionally claims to support womens rights, it is also not hesitant to introduce legislation that
is deliberately discriminatory towards women. For example, the Karzai administration, under
the guidance of the United States, is currently attempting to reinforce some of the same policies
pertaining to womens rights that were in effect under the Taliban. For example, on March 06,
2012, President Karzai endorsed a code of conduct recently issued by the Ulema Council in
Afghanistan.121 While the Ulema Councils statement addressed several issues, the most
relevant for this thesis pertains to how women should be treated and should conduct themselves.
Specifically, as Heather Barr notes, the statement referenced that women should not travel
without a male chaperone. Women should not mix with men while studying, or working, or in
public. Women must wear the Islamic hijab. Women are secondary to men.122 While this code
of conduct is claimed to be in accordance with Islamic law, in reality it is a direct implication of
Vogt, Heidi. "Afghan president backs strict guidelines for women." Associated Press. March 06, 2012.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/03/06/international/i073316S04.DTL
122Barr, Heather. "Are Afghan Women better off after a decade of war?" CNN March 8, 2012.
http://www.hrw.org/news/list/41
55


the uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam, which, as stated previously, is highly biased on the
basis of influence from Afghanistans patriarchal culture. As outlined in a recent Associated
Press article, womens rights advocates are concerned that Karzais endorsement means that
existing or planned laws aimed at protecting womens rights may be sacrificed for peace
negotiations.123
Today, development for womens health, political power, education, and social status in
Afghanistan are some of the major concerns that must be addressed in discussing the
reconstruction of the country; however, the United States is not even addressing these issues in a
rhetorical sense. In a recent article, scholars Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl argue that
You have to go back 10 months to find any sustained rhetoric from President Barack Obama
about the importance of assuring the security of women in Afghanistan.124 Regardless of the
United States policy, the Afghan government currently faces a country with a number of
difficult decisions and challenges, including the ability to secure womens rights. While the
government claims to give women an important place, enforcing such causes continues to be an
ongoing challenge.
Continuing Threat of the Taliban & Negotiations
The people of Afghanistan await a genuine challenge: addressing womens rights. The
United States occupation of Afghanistan has not improved the standard of living for Afghan
women, and the Taliban continue to be an imminent threat to women in Afghanistan. There are
many incidents in which the Taliban have asserted their importance and activity in Afghanistan.
For example, in August 2008, militant gunmen murdered three teacher trainees who had just
123Vogt.
124Hudson, M. Valerie & Leidl,Patricia. "Betrayed." Foreign Policy May 10, 2010.
http://www.foreignpolicv.com/articles/2010/05/Q7/the us is abandoning afghanistan s women
56


returned from helping to organize a project in eastern Afghanistan to aid disabled children.125 In
addressing the condition of women in Afghanistan, Samira Hamidi, director of the Afghan
Women's Network, stated, the insurgents still kill children, they still put poison in the food of
school girls, they throw acid in the face of school girls, and they bum schools. They still
exist.126 Incidents such as this one are very commonplace through Afghanistan, which implies
that the United States continues to struggle an attempt to maintain control in Afghanistan.
Consequently, U.S. policy makers have not delivered on the promises they made to Afghanistan
and mostly to the women in Afghanistan.
Regardless of the increased violence against women, recently there have been ongoing
efforts to secure a political deal with the Taliban in order to bring some level of security in
Afghanistan. Al Jazeeras Robert Grenier argues that in attempt to negotiate with the Taliban,
Karzais government has requested the Taliban to formally cut ties with al-Qaeda, to accept the
elected Afghan government, and to agree to bargain in good faith.127 This statement indicates
that the Karzai government is actively attempting to negotiate with the Taliban. Additionally,
these are assessments about the Taliban accepting the optimistic demands presented by the
Karzai government are considered unrealistic by critics. One major negotiation factor, which the
West is highly interested in, pertains to womens education. Recently, Minister of Education
Farooq Wardak, who has actively worked to bring the Taliban to peace talks, noted the Taliban
125Cramer, Christopher. & Goodhand, Jonathan, "Try Again, Fail Again, Fail Better? War, the State, and the 'Post-
Conflict' Challenge in Afghanistan." December 16, 2002 p. 889 http://relooney.fatcow.com/SI_Expeditionary/Post-
Conflict-Economic-Development_28.pdf
126Khaleeli, Floma. "Afghan Women Fear for the Future." The Guardian. February 04, 2011.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/04/afghan-women-fears-for-future
127Grenier, Robert. "Jump-start1 to nowhere." Al Jazeera. January 09, 2012.
http://www.aljazeera.com/category/person/robert-l.-grenier
57


leadership is prepared to drop its ban on girls schools.128 Further, the article includes a
statement from Alex Strick Van Linschoten, a leading analyst of the Taliban, who said that the
attitude of the Taliban towards womens education has always been far more ambivalent than
popularly understood.129 In an attempt to reach some level of peace in Afghanistan, statements
basically indicating that the Taliban are probably not so bad are being issued.
A major concern pertaining to the negotiations with the Taliban is that the fragile gains in
womens rights that have been accomplished over the last decade may be jeopardized. As Indira
A.R. Lakshmanan notes, in addressing negotiations with the Taliban, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton stated, a peace agreement excluding more than half of the population is no peace at all.
Its a figment that will not last.130 While the West is adamant that any peace deal with the
Taliban cannot exclude Afghan women, their actions are indicating ulterior motives. In other
words, official statements regarding the United States concern for womens rights are being
issued; however, the United States is still willing to negotiate with the enemy that a decade ago
were described as the savages popular for their harsh treatment and subjugation of women.
In conclusion, it has to be noted that the situation of women in Afghanistan is a disastrous
failure from every angle and that there is brisk hope. As shown in this chapter, womens rights
were addressed in the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan, but very little
improvement was accomplished. Additionally, the issue of the United States negotiating with
the Taliban, whom they are optimistically requesting to accept what the Taliban have been
actively opposing for over a decade, shows that the Karzai government is becoming more
128Boone, Jon. 'Taliban ready to lift ban on girls' schools, says minister." The Guardian. January 13, 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/13/taliban-lift-ban-girls-schools
129,.. .
Ibid.
130Lakshmanan, Indira A.R. "Clinton Opposes Any Afghan Peace That Shortchanges Women." Bloomberg. March 21,
2012. http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-21/clinton-opposes-any-afghan-peace-that-shortchanges-
women
58


regressive. As Richard Weitz noted regarding the intentions of the Taliban, it is possible they
are simply professing to accept a compromise settlement in order to secure military
withdrawal.131 In other words, the Taliban may simply show interest in compromising with the
West in an effort to secure the Wests military withdrawal; once this occurs, the Taliban may
retreat to the policies in place prior to 2001. Women in Afghanistan have been tom by decades
of war, economic hardship, social unrest, and political chaos. In addition, as described by the
West they have suffered from six years of brutal and inhumane Taliban rule. The question then
arises, why is the United States willing to negotiate with such a fundamentalist group?
131Weitz, Richard "Global Insights: Negotiating With the Taliban" World Politics Review February 14, 2012.
http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/11467/global-insights-negotiating-with-the-taliban
59


CHAPTER V
CONCLUSION & POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO WOMENS
RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN
The focus of this chapter is to provide options for addressing womens rights issues in
Afghanistan and policy recommendations to fulfill this cause. This chapter references the
arguments presented in chapter two, claiming that there is potential for compatibly between
Islam and democracy. With this compatibility in place, this chapter first argues that as outlined
in previous chapters, the central problem leading to womens rights issues in Afghanistan is the
uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam. In attempt to address this problem, the chapter argues
that a reform movement focused on understanding the actual teachings of Islam must be
initiated. Because the compatibility of democracy with principles of Islam and, in turn, Islams
view on womens rights is a matter of interpretation, Afghanistan should accept a more moderate
version of Islam in order to allow religion to serve as a better alternative than the United States
current policy toward achieving womens rights in Afghanistan. With the initiation of this
program, an Islamic approach should be utilized in attempting to obtain equality and freedom for
Afghan women. In other words, policy makers must use the actual teachings of Islam as a means
of advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. Specifically, this chapter argues
that Islam offers greater potential than the United States current policy with regard to treatment
of women in Afghanistan not only because Islam is compatible with democracy and advocates
for womens rights, but because Islam is the way of life in Afghanistan. Finally, this chapter
discusses potential policy recommendations to assist in implementing a change in Afghan society
60


through an Islamic approach thereby furthering womens rights, using Muslim-majority states,
Malaysia and Indonesia that offer instructive examples as a reference.
As discussed in previous chapters, the central problem surrounding womens rights issues
in Afghanistan is the uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam. To address this, it is important
that the Afghan government establish programs throughout the country that advocate for the
actual teachings of the religion and the various interpretations that exist in the Islamic world. A
possibility for such programs would be to establish government-funded workshops throughout
Afghanistan. These government-funded programs may be difficult to implement as the lack of
authority from the central government is a historical problem in Afghanistan, which cannot be
ignored.
Indonesia & Malaysia
The Muslim-majority states of Indonesia and Malaysia offer enlightening examples of
creating a balance between Islam, democracy and, consequently, womens rights. Both
Indonesia and Malaysia have managed to maintain their equilibrium between Islam and
democracy and, in turn, womens rights in Afghanistan could potentially follow these models.
As Joshua Kurlantzick notes, After decades of military dictatorship, and the threat of Islamism
in the late 1990s, Indonesia is today ruled by a coalition that mixes secular and moderate Islamic
parties and protects minority rights.132 In an attempt to fully understand Indonesias current
situation, it is important to understand how Indonesia has accomplished this balance, while many
other Muslim countries such as Afghanistan continue to struggle. Specifically, three aspects of
the Indonesian regime may be useful in attempting to understand its success. First, Indonesian
leaders have clearly emphasized that the state of Indonesia does not have preference toward any
132Kurlantzick, Joshua. "A Muslim Model: What Indonesia Can Teach the World." The Boston Globe. September 13,
2009. http://www.cfr.org/indonesia/muslim-model-indonesia-can-teach-world/p20199
61


particular sector of Islam.133 This reinforces the fact that Indonesian leaders do not use Islam to
legitimize their political status. In direct contrast, religion is required for political legitimacy in
Afghanistan and has been consequently used by political leaders historically and by Karzai in
present day Afghanistan. Second, the Indonesian model embraces universal values of human
rights, including the much contested civil and political rights, both on paper and in everyday life.
While Afghanistan, unlike Indonesia is a signatory to documents embracing womens rights, in
actuality Karzais government does little to reinforce these commitments. Third, Indonesia has
managed a radical decentralization policy to ensure more equitable relations between the central
government and the different regions of the country. While, as discussed in previous chapters,
there is no effective centralized government in Afghanistan, the relationships between Kabul and
the other regions of the country are fairly limited.
In light of the aforementioned Indonesian model, Afghanistan may accomplish three
similar rules. First, Afghanistan should attempt to minimize the role of religion for political
legitimacy. While religion has historically been used in this way and continues to be used in
present day Afghanistan, it is important to understand that enforcing polices to advance womens
rights in Afghanistan will to some degree demand that the uniquely Afghan interpretations of
Islam be altered based on more universal understandings. Second, Afghanistan should actually
begin acting on the policies it has committed itself to as a signatory and should begin
maintaining compliance with the obligations associated with these emancipatory documents.
Third, the relationship of Afghanistans central government with rural Afghanistan is a major
factor in understanding the obstacles to advancing of womens rights in Afghanistan. Due to the
lack of influence of the central government, addressing womens rights issues throughout the
133
Ibid.
62


entire country may be a complicated process. In addition to implementing the aforementioned
policies based on the Indonesian model, Afghanistan should work on relation-building between
the central government in Kabul and the rural areas throughout the country. This would be a step
in the right direction for Afghanistan in attempt to address the womens rights issues present in
the country.
Additionally, Afghanistan may reference the Malaysian model of coexistence between
Islam and democracy and Islams progressive view towards womens rights. In Malaysia, the
Badawi-led coalition, which attempts to implement Hadhari, a new progressive Islamic program
aimed at obtaining general ethical principles that the entire country must accept, has gained
momentum.134 Malaysia has utilized Hadhari as a means to establishing a society based on
humanitarian norms level of womens rights. While Malaysia allows several of its states to
apply shar ia to many issues of family law and other civil cases a system that can alienate non-
Muslim minorities, undermining the principle that democracy protects minority rights, it still
manages to maintain equilibrium between Islam and democracy and, in turn, womens rights.135
The issue of womens rights in Malaysia is mainly addressed through the Sisters in Islam
Movement, whose ultimate goal is to promote the development of Islam in Malaysia that
upholds the principles of equality, justice and democracy.136 With this goal, Malaysia focuses
on pursuing womens rights within Islam and within the framework of a country that is quickly
modernizing and relatively democratic.
The cases of Indonesia and Malaysia show that Islam and democracy have potential for
coexistence, provided the leaders of the country are willing to take the necessary steps. The
134Schilling..
135Kurlantzick.
136Noor, Farish A., 'The Globalization of Islamic Discourse and its Impact in Malaysia and Beyond," Institute for
Islamwissenschaft, Freie Universitat of Berlin, (20 November 2000). p. 13
63


central problem in Afghanistan is that the norms of society are based on authoritarian and
patriarchal codes, as opposed to the actual teachings of Islam. It is also important to address the
concept of accountability that Islam understands to exist among human beings and, in turn,
between human beings and God. This relationship of accountability essentially claims that
human beings are accountable to one another because they are ultimately accountable to God.137
In order to measure the accountability among human beings and the accountability between
human beings and God, it is necessary to understand how Islam ought to be understood, which
leads to how the Qur an is interpreted. As is evident from the arguments presented in previous
chapters, while there are various interpretations of the Qur an, Afghans have chosen, due to the
patriarchal and tribal influences in Afghan society, not only a repressive version of Islam, but
also a uniquely Afghan one based on these societal influences. Therefore, it is difficult for
Afghans who are pre-occupied with tribal and patriarchal influences to understand the logic of
Islams view on women, as there are interpretations of Islam, unlike Afghan tribal norms,
advances womens rights. The problem in the context of Afghanistan is then the way Islam has
historically been understood.
Understanding the Quran
In understanding the various interpretations of the Qur an, it is important to follow the
general rule that the meaning of words and phrases in Islam are context-sensitive and that in
order to understand the actual meaning of the teachings of the Qur an, different approaches must
be pursued. One approach is the linguistic strategy, which according to a recent report issued by
PeachBuild of Canada, argues that words may have more than one meaning and when one
meaning has taken precedence over the rest. This leads to a situation where the meaning that
137Ahmed, Faiz. "Shari'a Custom, and Statutory Law: Comparing State Approaches to Islamic Jurisprudence, Tribal
Autonomy, and Legal Development in Afghanistan and Pakistan." Global Jurist. Vol. 7, No. 1, Article 5 p. 12
64


has gained precedence transforms to become the sole meaning of a given word.138 Oftentimes in
patriarchal and tribal societies such as Afghanistan, the sole meaning of any given word is one
that is repressive and supportive of the advancements of tribal norms. In an attempt to alter this
misconception, it is important to conduct a scholarly analysis of the various meanings of a
particular word and then determine a meaning to be accepted widely. Even still, there should be
room for further scholarly analysis based on the situation and circumstances under which the
word is being used. The implication of this strategy in advancing womens rights in Afghanistan
is that the meaning of certain words that are used in a negative context to enforce repressive
polices toward women should be re-examined and replaced by a more progressive interpretation
of the word.
Another strategy to understand the various interpretations of the Qur 'an that may be used
is the historical strategy, which argues that the same word or phrase may have different
meanings in different historical contexts.139 Therefore, it is important to understand Qur 'anic
verses in their relevant historical contexts. The report by PeaceBuild references the example of
polygamy to analyze the historical strategy. The report states, On the surface, it seems that
Qur 'an has approved this practice. .under such circumstances, polygamy was a response to a
social need.140 The implication of this strategy for advancing womens rights in Afghanistan is
that certain aspects of the Qur 'an must be analyzed in historical context. Because the same set
of circumstances does not exist in the modern world, specifically, because civil institutions can
provide protection for women and children that was previously required of men in society,
polygamy is not only old-fashioned but also an unjustified occurrence.
138PeaceBuild. "Islam and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in Afghanistan." Meeting Report.
March 2008. http://www.readysetglobal.com/pdf/UNSCR%201325%20and%20lslam%20in%20Afghanistan.pdf
139....
Ibid.
140Peacebuild
65


Current Situation in Afghanistan
In analyzing the current situation of Afghanistan most observers, both internal and
external, agree that there has been some level of increased freedoms for people in Afghanistan, at
least in comparison to the countrys repression under the Taliban. These observers agree that
despite these freedoms, there has not been significant improvement in Afghan womens rights
since the 2001 U.S. invasion. Moreover, as discussed in the previous chapters, the United States
has failed to deliver on the promises it made initially regarding womens rights. Karzais
government is generally considered far less repressive of women than that of the Taliban;
however, as discussed in chapter four, it has to be noted that the treatment of women under the
Karzai government varies considerably throughout the different regions of the country. In other
words, even the minimal rights and freedoms that the women in the urban regions enjoy are not
available to the vast population of women who live in the rural regions of Afghanistan. For
example, opportunities in different fields, including education, access to health care and health
information and employment are scarce in rural regions in comparison to urban regions of
Afghanistan.
While these differences exist, all women in both urban and rural regions of Afghanistan
are able to learn and understand Islam and the teachings of the religion in some capacity. For
example, while the average woman in Kabul may have the opportunity to learn about Islam and
its teachings by attending school and watching religious programs on television, the average
woman in rural regions has a similar opportunity to learn about Islam and its teachings through
the local mullahs. Regardless of the difference in the method of how religious knowledge is
obtained, it can be argued that all women in Afghanistan have the opportunity to learn and
understand Islam and its teachings. As discussed in previous chapters, most Afghans have an
66


ultimate respect for religion and conduct their daily lives in accordance with Islam.
Consequently, a potential approach to achieve betterment of women rights throughout the
country is to do so through the teachings of Islam.
The central problem Afghanistan faces today is that while some surface-level programs
have been initiated, no grassroots movements have occurred for women. In the case of
Afghanistan, the country faces a difficult situation that demands policy solutions. In order for
these policy changes to occur, it is first necessary for small changes at local levels that lead to
substantial transformation policies that are sustainable at national levels. One recommendation
for policy makers is to initiate a program through the countrys ulema council dedicated to
conveying the actual teachings of Islam independent of tribal and patriarchal influences. While
differences exist across the regions of the country, the focal point of all the regions is Islam.
Although the different regions of Afghanistan practice and understand some aspects of Islam
differently; generally, most Afghans have an overarching commitment to Islam. Therefore,
reinforcing the role of Islam in an attempt to improve womens rights in Afghanistan is
important. In doing so, one approach would be to increase the role of the ulema in reanalyzing
the Our an, to separate Islam from the tribal influences and to accept a more moderate
understanding of Islam when addressing womens rights issues. In other words, engaging the
ulema in the process of improving women's rights would have greater impact than limiting the
process to women's rights advocates.
In an attempt to convey the correct message of Islam in Afghanistan, it is best to do so
through the ulema. Basically, as the report by PeaceBuild asserts, the Our an consists of Gods
essential messages to human beings, which is trans-historical and trans-cultural. But to convey
this message to human beings, God had to employ a language known to the immediate recipients
67


of the revelation at the time, i.e., Arabic.141 The ulema, as experts of the Our an and controllers
of its interpretation, are in charge of conveying the knowledge of Islam to the general public.
Additionally, the ulema as an independent class of religious individuals whose influence and
authority stem from Islamic law, are highly valued by all Muslims and by all of Afghanistans
diverse ethnic groups.142 The ulema also assert that their interpretation of Islam is essentially the
only legitimate interpretation that is accepted and implemented. The role of the ulema is
extremely important in attempting to bring about change in any capacity in Islamic countries and
also in Afghanistan. However, the problem with Afghanistans current ulema council is that it
consists mainly of Pashtun tribal leaders who are highly influenced by patriarchal and tribal
norms. Therefore, the reform process must be initiated by encouraging more liberal, western-
educated Afghans into the ulema council. Additionally, a process to reanalyze the actual
teachings of Islam and incorporating those teaching into everyday life in the country must also
be initiated. The role of the ulema in Afghan social life is extremely important as they are
considered the custodians of Islamic law. However, the ulema are also influenced by the
multiple layers of indigenous law in Afghanistan, and in most cases the ulema are well versed in
both the teachings of Islam and the local tribal laws. In this way, the ulema have the capability
to balance the teachings of Islam and the patriarchal culture of Afghanistan.
Most importantly, the lack of central authority in Afghanistan does not permit a top-down
structure for implementing policies for advancement of womens rights. Time and time again, in
many countries ground-up movements have succeeded. One example of such a case is the
female genital mutilation in Egypt, which was debated on religious grounds, arguing that Islam
141Peacebuild.
142Nawid, Senzil, K. Religious Response to Social Change in Afghanistan 1919-1929: King Aman-Allah and the
Afghan Ulama. (Mazda Publishers, 1999).
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demanded circumcision. While bans on this practice from the central government have existed
since the 1990s, the practice was widely common until the religious sector in Egypt became
involved in this situation. Because religion is powerful in changing attitudes, involvement from
religious scholars proved beneficial in slowing the frequency of this practice. In 2007, a
campaign to stop the practice was initiated and it has become one of the most powerful social
movements in Egypt in decades, uniting an unlikely alliance of government forces, official
religious leaders and street-level activists.143 In addition to this movement, involvement from
influential religious sectors further helped the cause. For example, the Ministry of Religious
Affairs also issued a booklet explaining why the practice is not called for in Islam; Egypt's Grand
Mufti, Ali Gomaa, declared it haram, or prohibited by Islam.144 With these factors in place, the
practice has become less and less common over the years. As this example portrays, the role of
religious scholars in implementing policy from the ground up is highly influential in Islamic
societies. Similar to the case of female gentile mutilation in Egypt, Afghanistan can utilize
changes in other sectors of society pertaining to womens rights in the same manner that Egypt
has.
As a result of the high level of Islamic influence in Afghanistan, it is clear that a secular
approach would not succeed in the country. As outlined in chapter three, Afghan rulers who
have attempted to advance womens rights at the cost of marginalizing religious power have
failed. Younus Qanooni, an Afghan Parliamentarian, makes the argument that a secular model
of governance in Islam, which excludes Islam, will not work in Afghanistan. Qanooni noted in
an exclusive September 2005 interview that Afghans will never agree on any secular or liberal
143Stackman, Michael. "Female circumcision focus of ferocious debate in Egypt." The New York Times. September
19, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/world/africa/19iht-egypt.5.7572375.html?pagewanted=all
144,.
Ibid.
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system. Islam is the model system and Afghanistans future is tied with Islam.145 Qanooni
makes the argument Afghanistans future cannot model a Western liberal democracy without the
inclusion of Islam; however, it is possible to attempt to implement democracy through an Islamic
approach and reach equilibrium between Islam and democracy. However, it has to be noted that
the version of Islam desperately needed in Afghanistan is not one in accordance with the
repressive tribal version of the religion; rather, a more moderate version of Islam is required in
Afghanistan. Utilizing an Islamic approach to advance womens rights in Afghanistan will be a
long and complicated process. Fortunately, the seeds for development in this field have already
been sown. For example, Jamila Afghani runs Noor Educational Center has started some of the
first gender training programs that train imams, individuals who lead prayer at mosques and
guides or inspires the Muslim community, in Afghanistan utilize an Islamic perspective.146
Specifically, as Daisy Khan & Fazeela Siddiqui discussed the Imam Training Program,
indicating that Through ITP, we trained 50 of the most respected imams in Jalalabad and Kabul
on the five absolute rights provided to women in Islam: Education, Inheritance, Marriage,
Property Ownership and Social Participation. We decided to train imams since Afghan
communities deeply trust and respect them.147 While utilizing an Islamic approach to advance
womens rights in Afghanistan will be a long and complicated process, it still offers more chance
of success than any top-down, foreign-imposed process.
145Shahzad, Syed Saleem. "Afghan Vote: No Future Without Islam, Says Qanooni" September 20, 2005.
Http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/Aki/English
146Afghani, Jamila. (2008). https://www.tanenbaum.org/programs/peace/peacemaker-awardees/iamila-afghani-
afghanistan
147Khan, Daisy. & Siddiqui Fazeela. 'Training Afghani Imams to End Violence Against Women." March 21, 2012.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daisv-khan/afghanistan-imams-end-violence-against-muslim-
women b 1287885.html
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As outlined in chapter four, the most notable development in post-Taliban Afghanistan
has been the establishment of a Ministry of Womens Affairs, which for the most part has been
ineffective in its attempts to improve womens rights in Afghanistan. While historically
ineffective and highly influenced by the male-dominated Karzai government, MOWA should
initiate the process of bringing about social change through the ulema. In other words, MOWA
should initiate conferences where the ulema present the actual interpretations of the Qur an free
from the Pashtun tribal influence, which oftentimes, favor womens rights and active
participation of women in national and economic affairs. This would improve MOWAs
legitimacy in Afghanistan, which would allow it to further its goals pertaining to womens rights.
To some degree the 2004 minister of MOWA, Habiba Sorabi, attempted to initiate this process
while she was in office. In an interview with feminist scholar Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Sorabi
noted Islam is here to stay and women want rights within the Islamic framework. Sorabi
continued that Islam gave women rights to education and employment and that her Ministry was
working within that framework.148
As stated previously there are some Muslim-majority states that offer instructive
examples of balancing Islam and democracy that Afghanistan can follow. In discussing the
Malaysian model, one policy of the Malaysian government that may be helpful in Afghanistan is
the policy to pursue poverty eradication. As Markus Schillings argues, poverty and income
disparities are considered as one of the main spurs for modern terrorism in many other Islamic
parts of the world.149 In this context the author argues that the economic policy further reduces
tensions between different groups in Malaysia. Similarly, in Afghanistan, a positive economic
Ahmed-Ghosh. p. 32.
149Schilling. p. 13
71


development may lead to some level of security throughout the country, which would allow for
betterment of womens rights.
In conclusion, the role of Islam in Afghanistan is highly significant, but at the same time
it is a tribal and patriarchal version of Islam that causes the religion to be distorted in many ways.
Though Islam itself does not seem to be one of the major reasons for the inability of Afghanistan
to secure democracy and, in turn, womens rights, it illustrates how unique the Afghan
interpretation of Islam is. Although it is unlikely that Afghanistan will adopt a version of
democracy identical to any Western counterpart; it is possible that Afghanistan would take a
form with specific characteristics that are determined by cultural values of the Afghan society. It
is important to understand that utilizing an Islamic approach to advance womens rights in
Afghanistan will be a long and complicated process, but that the policy recommendations
presented in this thesis offers a greater chance of success than any top-down, foreign-imposed
process.
72


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AFGHAN WOMEN AND THE UNITED ST ATES POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN by Reeta Yelda Mohmand B.A., International Relations, Univ ersity of Colorado, Boulder, 2006 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Political Science 2012

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2012 by Reeta Mohm and All rights reserved

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This thes is for the Master of Political Science Degree by Reeta Yelda Mohmand has been approved for Political Science by Dr. Jana Everett, Chair Dr. Amin Kazak, Advisor Dr. Glenn Morris, Advisor May 02, 2012 iii

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Mohm and, Reeta Yelda (M.A. Political Science) Afghan Women and the United Stat es Policy in Afghanistan Thesis directed by Jana Everett ABSTRACT This thesis examines whether or not the United States has been effective in successfully implementing womens rights in Afghanistan. While U.S. policy has been partially effective in specific areas such as providing greater e ducational and health access for women in the cities, development in the educational and hea lth sectors in rural areas is extremely marginal and some in cas es does not even exist. Additionally, the most noticeable accomplishment in the postTaliban Afghanistan is the Ministry of Womens Affairs, which is highl y ineffective in advancing wo mens rights. This thesis argues that an Islamic approach may offer a better alternative for obt aining equality and freedom for Afghan women and that such an Is lamic-inspired solution would constitute a possible resolution to womens rights violations that occu r in Afghanistan. In other words, policy makers in Afghanistan could use the teachings of Islam as a means of advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. To support this argument, the thesis reviews the literature on Islam, democracy, and womens rights and makes the case for the potential of Islam to a dvance womens rights in Afghanistan. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Jana Everett iv

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v ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am grateful to my thesis advisor, Profe ssor Jana Everett, and my committee members, Professors Amin Kazak and Glenn Morris for their patience and guidance in constructing my thesis. I could not have written this thes is without the precious guidance, support, and contributions of my entire committee. Th ank you for all your help througthout this process.

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vi TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTERS 1. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................1 Literature Review..............................................................................................2 Methodology.....................................................................................................8 Results, Value & Limitations........................................................................... 9 2. THE COMPATIBILITY BETWEEN ISLAM & DEMOCRACY AND IN TURN WOMEN AND ISLAM.11 Defining Islam & Democracy ........................................................................11 Scholarly Discussion of Compatibility & Inco mpatibility between Islam and Democracy...13 Women in Islam Islam in Afghanistan.22 3. A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN.. Afghanistans Legal System.27 History of Islam in Afghanistan...29 The Soviet Invasion..34 The Mujahidin -Occupied Afghanistan.35 The Taliban--Occupied Afghanistan 4. THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN SINCE 2001.............42 The U.S.-Occupied Afghanistan...43 Ministry of Womens Affairs...45

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vii Nationa l Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan.....50 Continuing Threat of the Taliban & Negotiations .56 5. CONCLUSION & POLICY RECOMMEN DATIONS PERTAINING TO WOMENS RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN..60 Indonesia & Malayasia...61 Understanding the Quran ..64 Current Situation in Afghanistan REFERENCES......73

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viii GLOSSARY Baya A mutual pledge that holds the ruler responsible for assuri ng the supremacy of Gods law and justice, securing human dignity, serving the public interest, and fulfilling the entire duties of the rulership position. Additionally, it holds the people responsible for supporting the ruler, obeying his decisions that comply with Gods law, and fulfilling their obligations Burqa All-enveloping veil, which covers a wo man from head to foot with only a small lace to look through Hadhari A new progressive Islamic program in Malayasia aimed at obtaining general ethical principles Hadith Explanations of the Quran by the Prophet Hakimiyyat Allah Sovereignty of God Hazaras Shia Muslims who live in Afghanistan and speak Farsi Ijma The idea that the community decides c onsesuality who is to be its ruler Ijtihad Guidance provided by religious scholar to the Muslim Communityon adapting to new trends so as to ensure self-progress as well as communal progress Imam An individual who leads prayer at mos ques and guides or inspires the Muslim community Jirga Traditional informal, ad hoc, local/triba l council consisting of male elders of all lineages/and or extended families of a village or tribal group Khalifahs (Caliphs) Arabic word literally meaning "one who replaces someone else who left or died" (English: caliph). In the context of Islam, however, the word acquires a narrower meaning. The Muslim Khalifa is the successor (in a line of successors) to Prophet Muhammad's position as the political, military, and administrative leader of the Muslims Madrasa Institution where Islamic sciences are taught, i.e. religious school Mujahidin An opposition group formed in Afghanistan in response to the Soviet invasion Mullah An individual who oversees the daily f unctions at a local mosque and ultimately controls the religious activity in that specific locality Namus An exclusively cultural concept that references the sexual integrity of family members

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ix Pashtu One of Afghanistans official languages Pashtun The largest ethno-linguistic group in Af ghanistan, living primarily in eastern and southern Afghanistan Pashtunwali Customary laws based on tribal law Purdah Urdu for veil, refers to the boundary between men and womens physical space Quran The Islamic holy book Sharia Islamic code of law that litera lly translates to consultation Sunni The largest denomination of Islam, wh ich is based on the belief that Prophet Mohammad died without appointing a su ccessor to lead the Muslim community Sunna Description of how Prophet Mohammad lived his life Surah A chapter of the Quran Taliban Plural for the word Talib an Arabic word meaning someone who is seeking religious knowledge. Tajik The second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan Ummah The Muslim community Ulema A class of individuals with knowledge in Sunni Islam who have been trained in the religious sciences

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CHAPTE R I INTRODUCTION This thesis addresses the following central que stion: Given the United States promise to improve womens rights when the United States invaded Afghanistan, how effective have been plans forwarded by both the United States and Afghan governments to promote womens rights in Afghanistan; if not effective, what needs to be done to furthe r womens rights? This thesis argues that an Islamic approach for attempting to obtain equality and freedom for Afghan women would be an effective strategy to deal with women s rights violations that occur in Afghanistan. In other words, policy makers in Afghanistan should use the teachings of Islam as a means of advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afgh anistan. This thesis presents five central points. First, the thesis analyzes th e situation of Afghan women in the preTaliban and Taliban eras. Second, the thesis evaluates the United St ates policy in Afghanist an and its influence on Afghan women, arguing that when examined in depth, the United States has not made a significant difference pertaining to womens rights issues in Af ghanistan. Third, the thesis argues that some governance reforms such as ministries created to address womens issues in the post-Taliban era have limited influence on Afghan wo men due to the United States deviating from its policy in Afghanistan. Fourth, the th esis argues that the United States policy in Afghanistan has drifted away fr om its initial promises for Afghan women; rather, the United States is going through the motions of securi ng womens rights to ach ieve satisfaction of feminists around the globe and the internationa l media, and these policies amount to mere rhetoric and not substance. Fifth, to support th is argument, the thesis presents data on the continuities and changes that occur in the soci al and political roles of Afghan women under the American occupation, namely from 2001 to the present. 1

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Given the la ck of plan and program efficiency, the thesis addresses how to fulfill the initial promises of achieving womens emancipa tion. First, stabilizing the country is an important factor in addressing bot h womens rights and policies so as to advance such a cause. An option for this stabilization, which has recent ly been much debated, is negotiating with the Taliban While this negotiation and the consequen tial changes would be detrimental to the democratic and social values that United States policy makers claim they are interested in implementing as part of the U.S. foreign polic y in Afghanistan, some scholars have argued it may be the only means for the United States to succeed in Afghanistan.1 An alternative is to utilize an Islamic approach for attempting to ob tain equality and freedom for Afghan women. In other words, policy makers may potentially use th e teachings of Islam as a means of advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. To support this ar gument, the thesis reviews the literature on Islam, democracy, and womens rights and makes the case for the potential of Islam to advance womens rights in Afghanistan. This chapter presents a literature review of scholarship pertaining to women in Afghanistan and United States pol icy and employs the work of au thors Alletta Brenner, Michele Ferguson, Margaret A. Mills and Salley L. Kitch, as well as Niaz A. Shah. This is followed by a presentation of the methodology used in the thesis, as well as the expected results, and the value of the thesis. Finally, this chapter presents an ove rview of the topics of the subsequent chapters. Literature Review Although womens rights issues were used as one of the primary rationales for intervention in Afghanistan, many scholars ar gue the United States covert policy for 2 1Cowper Coles, Sherard. Talking to the Taliban: The only route to lasting peace. Newsweek May 29, 2011. http://www.thedailybeast.co m/newsweek/2011/05/29/why talking to the taliban is the only option.html

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Afghanistan m ay have been otherwis e from the start. Therefore, limited efforts have been made since the 2001 invasion to addr ess womens rights, which have not brought about grassroots innovations for Afghan women. Today, developments for wome ns health, political power, education, and social status in Afghanistan are some of the major concerns that must be addressed in discussing the rec onstruction of the country. Wh ile some scholars argue that significant change has been accomplished since the 2001 invasion, others argue that the changes are merely a showcase to portray the Unite d States success in bringing democracy to Afghanistan and that these changes do not repr esent real quantifiable improvements for women. The central aspect of this literature involves analyzing discourses surrounding womens rights violations in Afghanistan. In the arti cle Gender and Politics in U.S. Foreign Policy Discourse, 2001-2004, Alletta Brenner argues th at the claims initially made by the Bush Administration in drafting its foreign policy in Afghanistan were often based on mistaken assumptions, which undermined women in Afghanistan.2 In other words, the Bush Administration sowed the seeds for a flawed fore ign policy pertaining to womens rights, which the Obama Administration is still currently following. Brenner argues that the type of liberation advocated for by the Bush Administration was ofte n presented in a moral framework and that the actual actions of the Bush Administration did not reflect such a framework.3 Thus, in total, the arguments presented by Brenner suggest that th e Bush Administration us ed womens rights and the emancipation of women as one of the priori tized justifications fo r invading Afghanistan; however, very little was done fo r the women in Afghanistan. 3 2Brenner, Alletta. Speaking of Respect for Women: Gender and Politics in U.S. Foreign Policy Discourse, 2001 2004. Journal of International Womens Studies ( March 2009). Vol. 10 No. 3 pp. 18 323Ibid.

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4 States. In its approach to wom ens rights in Afghanist an, the United States utilizes the concept of the dynamic of difference to justify its presence in Afghanistan. The dynamic of difference, conceptualized by the 16th century Spanish theori st Francisco de Vitoria, forwarded norms that the West continues to follow t oday, setting universal standards for treatment of non-Europeans throughout the world, and in this case Afghanistan.4 This international legal construct is a source of ongoing dispossession of Afghans based on the idea that Afghans are barbaric and backward and that Afghans crave to be civilized by the United In the article W Stands for Women: Femini sm and Security Rhetoric in the Post 9/11 Bush Administration, Michele Ferguson argues that the United States uses the dynamic of difference in determining its foreign policy in Afghanistan. Ferguson argues that in the aftermath of 9/11, issues of culture, religion, and political rights became the focus of a perceived ideological clash between civiliza tion and barbarism, resulting in part in renewed attention for womens rights.5 In other words, the concept of free dom in the United States, which included the emancipation of women, became the explanati on for why they hated the United States. Fergusons argument resonates with the overarc hing argument presented by Professor Edward Said in Orientalism .6 By arguing that Afghanistan is back ward, U.S. policy makers facilitate U.S. interests, irrespective of the interests of Af ghan people, and utilize the political, social, and economic structures of the country to the United St ates advantage. This in itself has created a country with multiple complex issues surroundin g political, economic, and social differences. Collectively, this array of problems has caused hist orical struggles that je opardize the security of 4Anghie, Antony. Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). pp. 20 & 21. 5Ferguson, Michele.W Stands for Women: Feminism and Security Rhetoric in the Post 9/11 Bush Administration. Politics & Gender. (2005). Vol. 9 No. 1 p. 38. 6Said, W. Edward.Orientalism. ( Vintage Books: A Division of Random House, 1978). p. 12.

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Afghanistan, and because of Afghani stans geo-stra tegic position, its security is essential to the United States. In analyzing a 2004 conference of Afghan women activists and academics, authors Margaret A. Mills and Salley L. Kitch argue that while actions ar e taken in the name of women these actions exploit the very women the activists and academics claim to be representing, particularly since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.7 Mills and Kitch acknowledge that while some nominal changes have occurred for Afghan women, these changes have not brought about the democracy promised by the United States. One ex ample of such a change outlined by Mills and Kitch is the increased number of women in the traditional Afghan jirgas which are tribal assemblies of elders that make decisions by c onsensus. While there are more women in the jirgas these women often serve as puppets for the dominating male members. In other words, the purpose of having an increased female presence in the jirgas does not guarantee that women have a distinct voice in implementing policy an d that women do not continue to be exploited. Mills and Kitch also presen t an overview of the project s that are currently active throughout Afghanistan. According to Mills and Kirch, these projects do not spend time assessing the actual needs of Af ghan women. Rather, these projec ts assume the needs of the women and act accordingly. Often this occurs due to the competitive nature of the capital and the correlating profits associated with funding earmarked for these projects. In other words, as individuals obtain funding for projects, they tend to allocate funds in the least effective manner so that opportunities for additional funding can be realize d. In this cycle, the Afghan women and their immediate needs are consistently overlooked. 5 7Salley L. Kitch & Margaret A. Mills. Afghan Women Leaders Speak: An Academic Activist Conference. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Ohio State University. (November 17 19, 2005)

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Scholar Niaz A. Shah for mulates an argument that this thesis develops further.8 In the article The Constitution of Afghanistan and Womens Rights, Shah argues that while advancing womens rights are vita l to the reconstruction of Afghani stan, continued violations of womens rights occur in Afghanistan. Shah illust rates that although the level and severity of the violations may have varied throughout different periods of history, in general womens rights violations have occurred throughout Afghanistans history, ranging from th e pre-Soviet invasion period to the present. However, the severity of the violations have fluctuated based on the regime controlling the country. One of the primary steps in attempting to a ddress the reconstructi on of Afghanistan was the formation of the 2004 Afghan constitution, whic h closely addresses womens rights. While the current constitution emerged under internatio nal standards related to human and womens rights, there are still many womens rights provisi ons in the constitution that will not be enforced because they are in conflict with Afghan cultural and religious pract ices. In other words, there are certain aspects of the current constitution that are in conflict with the uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam: these aspects cannot be effective in Af ghanistan unless equilibrium is achieved between the actual teachings of Islam, international standard s, and the unique Afghan interpretations of Islam. According to Shah, there are three types of pr ovisions in the current constitution that deal with womens rights: neutral, prot ective, and discriminatory. Each type of provision consists of articles that address everyday issues for Afghan women. While the neutral provisions are applicable to both men and wo men in Afghanistan, the protec tive provisions are designed to 6 8Shah, Niaz A. The Constitution of Afghanistan and Womens Rights. Feminist Legal St udies (January 2005). Vol. 13. No. 2 pp. 239 258

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protect womens rights. Finall y, the discrim inatory provisions may directly or indirectly go against womens rights. Even with such pr ovisions and the Afghan governments commitment to addressing human rights violations, the c ountry struggles to address womens and human rights. As stated previously, a major obstacle to the success of these rights is related to the narrow and uniquely Afghan interpretation of Is lam that the male-dominated society in Afghanistan has decided to accept and implement. The ultimate goal of attempting to obtain womens rights in Afghanistan must be reali zed through a deconstruction of the discourse of Islam associated with the male-dom inated society in Afghanistan. Shah argues that regardless of the commitmen ts made by the United States and the proU.S. Afghan government, the best method of bringing about emancipation of Afghan women should occur via a process that calls for achieving a stable gr ound between human rights and the princples of Islamic law.9 In other words, some level of agreement must be achieved pertaining to issues between uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam and international human rights standards, in which there is often disagreement. As is eviden t from Afghanistans history, no system of government has survived in the country without incorpor ating Islamic values; therefore, achieving a common ground between religion and govern ance is important. Achieving and maintaining political stability in Afghanistan is a prerequisite to reconciling the differences between international standards for human and womens rights and the uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islamic law principles that directly impact womens rights issues in Afghanistan. The above literature review attempts to provi de insight into varyi ng views on the issue of womens rights in Afghanistan. In summary, the literature reviewed argues that the United 7 9Shah, Niaz A. p. 247

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States h as not fulfilled its initial promises to emancipate Afghan women. Consequently, there have been limited improvements for womens righ ts in Afghanistan. Shah claims that a particular process is required to bring about womens emancipati on in Afghanistan. This thesis seeks to make the case that an Islamic foundatio n provides a viable approach to womens rights in Afghanistan. Finally, the thesis attempts to demonstrate that in order to forward and substantiate womens rights in Afghanistan, it is extremely importa nt to include the teachings of Islam. Methodology This thesis employs a case study methodology. The purpose of this case study is to identify the obstacles to women s rights in Afghanistan. I will use a case study to identify the obstacles and make recommendations for improvi ng womens rights in Afghanistan. While the field of Political Science has no single defini tion of a case study, gene rally a case study is exploratory, informed by interpretive presuppositions.10 What this means is that the present case study is an in-depth analysis of viewing the different factors pertaining to women, Islam, and democracy. The thesis will employ the schola rly literature and reports by government bodies and non-governmental organizations in order to bu ild a case study that addresses both womens rights issues in Afghanistan as well as addresses how to overc ome the obstacles faced by women in Afghanistan. These qualitative elements will help develop an understanding of what questions need be addressed. Also, this research has em ancipatory value, and the main purpose is to benefit the women in Afghanistan. 8 10Yanow, D., Schwartz Shea P. & Freitas, M. J. (2008). Case Study Research in Political Science. In A.J. Mills, G. Durepos & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Case Study Research Sage Publications. pp. 1 12 http://cesrt.hszuyd.nl/files/NEWS/Case%20Study%20Research%20in% 20Political%20Science%20Yanow%20Schwa rtz_Shea%20Freitas%20final.pdf

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Results, Value & Limitations The expected result of the research for th is thesis is that it will add value to the assessments of approaches taken by United St ates policy makers and their policies in Afghanistan. In other words, the information fr om this research will help frame the issues pertaining to womens rights in li ght of Islam. While other count ries have attempted to obtain womens rights, this has yet to occur in Afghanist an. Consequently, the result expected from this research is that it would open a new avenue for womens rights to exist in Afghanistan in tandem with a version of Islam that is compatible with democracy and, in turn, women and human rights. Similarly, it must be acknowledged that there are limitations associated with the thesis. Specifically, in conducting the research associated w ith this thesis, I was not able to travel to Afghanistan to obtain first hand material and was not to observe the condition of Afghan women directly. In the cases of Indonesia and Malaysia, Islami c values and womens rights have managed to co-exist.11 As modern Islamic countries, both Indonesia and Malays ia are relatively democratic societies that attempt to practice gender equality and aim to prioritize womens rights. Thus, these cases can serve as inpirations for Afghanistan. The value of this thesis is that it will create a place for scholars and policy advisors to review the topic. Additionally, it will help advance policies pertaining to emancipation of women in Afghanistan. One issue that arose in completing this research was the limited amount of objective scholarly material relating to womens rights. While womens rights are ga ining prominence in Afgha nistan, the topic in general is a fairly new one, and oftentimes, obtaining unbiased information is difficult. 9 11Schilling, Markus. Islam and the Struggle for Democratic Transition in Malaysia. Taiwan Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. Vol. 8. No. 1. pp 101 126 (2011) http://www.cseas.ncnu.edu.tw/journal/v08_no1/4.pp.101 126TJSEAS8(1).pdf

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Chapter two of this thesis addresses the compatibility between Islam and democracy, followed by an analysis of Islam and womens right s. Chapter three presents an overview of the historical and sociological background of women in Afghani stan until the United States 2001 invasion. Chapter four examines the situation of women in Afghanistan since the United States invasion. This is followed by chapter five, whic h provides a conclusion of the thesis pertaining to options for addressing womens rights issues in Afghanistan and policy recommendations to advance womens rights. Chapter five also argues as to why Islam offers greater potential than the United States current policy toward women in Afghanistan. 10

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CHAPTE R II THE COMPATIBILITY BETWEEN IS LAM AND DEMOCRACY AND IN TURN WOMEN AND ISLAM This chapter presents brief evaluations of Islam and democracy and the contending views that exist in addressing the compatibility betwee n the two. The first section defines Islam and democracy. Section two discusse s three particular arguments, sp ecifically on the supposed lack of compatibility, then partial compatibility, and finally outright compatibility between Islam and democracy. The chapter continues to focus on the importance of religion in Afghanistan. Additionally, this chapte r provides an overview of the rela tionship between Islam and women, and argues that Islam advocates for womens ri ghts. Finally, this chapter examines the relationship between Islam and democracy in the framework of the current situation in Afghanistan. The central argument is that Islam is compatible with democracy and that Islam is also crucial for Afghans; however, the way Islam is understood in Afghanistan is primarily based on tribal customs which are authoritarian and patriarchal. Defining Islam and Democracy Although in the last decade the West has a ssociated Islam with terrorists and mass destruction, in actuality, Islam is a broad and co mplex body of philosophical, legal, and political thought whose norms and ideals emphasize the equali ty of people. Dr. Fathi Osman argues that Islam not only has a vision of a ju st society, but also pr esents general principles of a whole way of life for the individual, the family, the society, the state, and the world relations in order to secure balance and justice in the whole human sphere.12 However, the Islamic holy book, the 11 12Osman, Fathi. Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura. Center for Muslim Christian Understanding Occasional Paper Series. p. 8

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Quran, provides recomm endations pertaining to governance about which Islamic scholars over the centuries haven given numerous interpretatio ns. As Omid Safi, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, asserts, The Quran is clearly not a political constitution as we understand the term today. N onetheless, it envisions a society devoted to justice for all and to aiding the oppressed in li ght of a collective res ponsibility before God.13 Regardless of the envisioned society descri bed, Islamic scholars often have varying interpretations of the Quran, which results in various forms of religious practice. While this thesis argues that Islam and demo cracy are compatible, it acknowledges that there are variants of Islam that ha ve been and still are associated with authoritarian rule, such as Iran.14 The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of th e most despotic regimes in the world, arguably due to the extreme version of Islam implemen ted in the country. On the other hand, more moderate and democratic countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia practice a more liberal version of Islam. Thus, exampl es of both despotic regimes and democratic regimes with Islam as the majority religion exist. This thesis utilizes the definition of de mocracy developed by Robert A. Dahl in Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition .15 Dahl notes that the minimal requirements for a democracy to exist are as follows: freedom to form and join organizations; freedom of expression; the right to vote; eligibility for public office; the right of political leaders to compete for support and vote; alternative s ources of information; free and fa ir elections. An analysis of 12 http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/private/cmje/issues/more_is sues/Islam_in_a_Modern_State__Democrac y_and_Shura.pdf 13Safi, Omid. Islam and Democracy. Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. February 3, 2011 http://www.pbs.org/wnet/re ligionandethics/episodes/by topic/middle east/islam and democracy/8069/ 14Yusuf, Imtiyaz. Overcoming authoritarian regimes in the Muslim world. The Nation March 04, 2011. http://www.nationmultimedia.com /2011/03/04/opinion/Overcoming authoritarian regimes in the Muslim wor 30150046.html 15Dahl, Robert. A. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971) pp. 1 & 3

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Dahls concept suggests that the values of de mocracy are consta ntly adapting and changing with time. Additionally, author Fareed Zakaria argues d emocracy has gone from being a form of government to a way of life.16 This implies that democracy has various meanings based on which culture or style of life it is applied to. Consequently, various stra ins of democracy exist because people from different cultures and region s of the world have given the concept a unique definition. For example, to the average Amer ican, democracy means free will; however, to a person in Afghanistan, the word ma y mean freedom of speech. As a result of this, there is no monolithic practice of democracy. Taking the variation that exists in both demo cracy and Islam, the compatibility between the two is often very complicated and requires si gnificant analysis. While some scholars (both Islamic and non-Islamic) argue that Islam and demo cracy are incompatible because of the nature of Islam and its core teachings, ot hers assert that they are comp atible based on shared universal values. In an attempt to formulate an Islamic response to democracy, scholars have established several distinct perspectives, which have been identified by Hugh Goddard and Richard Bulliet, including complete compatibility between Isla m and democracy, partial compatibility between Islam and democracy and complete incompatibility between the two.17 Scholarly Discussion of Comp atibility & Incompatibility between Islam and Democracy Islamic concepts of legitimate governance are not as monolithic as outsiders may assume. While the Quran and the hadith (which are explanations of the Quran by the Prophet) form the basis of Islamic beliefs, there is a wide range of interpretation by Islamic scholars. Scholarly 13 16Zakaria, Fareed, Islam, Democracy and Constitutional Liberalism. The Political Quarterly (Spring, 2004). Vol. 119. No. 1, p.13 17Goddard, Hugh. Islam and Democracy, The Political Quarterly (December, 2002).Vol. 73, No. 1, p.7.

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opinions have for med the principal sources for how Islam is supposed to view and respond to questions of what is permissibl e and what is forbidden. As a result, bodies of Islamic scholars have formed legal schools of thought in Islam, and different regions adhere to different schools. Thus, one countrys religious Islamic understand ing may favor one legal school of thought while another countrys may favor another. Therefore, there is not as much conformity of opinions in Islam as an outsider might think. Islamic scholar s interpretations on all aspects of the religion and also on understanding Islams co mpatibility with democracy vary. This section reviews literature on the s ubject of compatibility between Islam and democracy. According to Goddard, generally, scholarship has fallen into three general categories. The first category constitutes arguments that Islam and democracy are not compatible. In claiming that there is an in compatibility between Islam and democracy, some scholars reference the concept of Hakimiyyat Allah which means the sovereignty of God.18 Goddard identifies this perspectiv e with Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb. Qutb argues that Islam when practiced in its orthodox sense, clashes with democracy. This clash stems from the fact that democracy advocates popular sovereignt y, while Islam advocates the concept of Hakimiyyat Allah It has to be noted that during the time of the Quran, the concept of popular sovereignty did not exist. Since that time, the concept of popular sovereignty has developed and an argument can be made that popular sovereignty can be a mechanism for forwarding the authority of God. Khaled Abou El Fadl discusses the concept of Gods sovereignty noting that . .it cannot substitute popular sovereignty for divine sovereignty, but must instead show how popular 14 18Ibid, p. 4.

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sovereign tywith its idea that citizens have righ ts and a correlative responsibility to pursue justice with mercyexpresses G ods authority, properly understood.19 Political Scientist Samuel P. Huntington also argues that Islam and democracy are incompatible. He argues that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Consequently, Huntington argues conflict will be based on interaction of Western arrogance and Islamic intolerance.20 In other words, Huntingtons argument is that because Islam and democracy are both homogenous and mutually exclusive, they are not compatible. Huntingtons argument fa ils to take into account the variations that exist in both Islam and democracy. A second perspective asserts th e incompatibility of Islam and democracy in light of the relationship between Islam and the West. Scholars have pointed to a deep separation that exists between Islam and the West, which is then viewed in light of animosity that exists toward the West. In addressing the above argument, aut hor Brian Handwerk, quoting Columbia University Professor Richard Bulliet, points out that most of the presumptions regarding the incompatibility of Islam and democracy are grounded in anti-U.S. and anti-West sentiment.21 In other words, those who argue that democracy is at odds w ith Islam in actuality argue that the word democracy (presented in international discour se supporting Western values) is incompatible with Islam. The main reason for this incompatib ility, according to Bulliet, appears to stem from 15 19El Fadl, Khaled Abou. Islam and the challenge of Democracy. http://bostonreview.net/BR28.2/abou.html 20Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs (Summer 1991). Vol. 72 No. 3 http://ikesharpless.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/2521408 7/ Samuel%20Huntington,%20T he%20Clash%20of%20Civili zations.pdf It is interesting to note that in contrast to Huntingtons argument, former Indonesian President, Abdurrahman Wahid has argued that the clash of civilizations simply shows that although there are differences between the West and Islam, this does not mean such differences eventuate in enmity and clashes.20Wahids argument is valid on the basis that there are many countries throughout the world that do not function in accordance with Western democratic rule and are yet co operative with democratic countries in the West. 21Handwerk, Brian. Can Islam and Democracy Coexist? National Geographic News ( October 24, 2003). http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/ 2003/10/1021_031021_isla micdemocracy.html

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the idea that the word d emocracy is often asso ciated with the idea that the Wests culturally imperialistic values which ar e at odds with Islam. A third perspective asserts that Islam and democracy are compatible. Some scholars reference Prophet Mohammads hadith as a source for freedom of speech and diversity of thought. In discussing this perspective, Goddard references the work of Egyptian intellectual Abbas Al Aqqad, who argues that Islamic concepts such as ijma and baya described below, provide a firm foundation for democracy.22 In other words, ijma and baya are concepts that may form a balanced society that is both Islamic and democratic. Al Aqqad argues that ijma is in core agreement with democracy. Ijma the idea that the community should decide who is to be its ruler, a dvocates to directly plac e authority in the hands of the public. Al Aqqad further argues that the effectiveness of ijma depends on how the ulema (a class of individuals with know ledge in Sunni Islam who have been trained in the religious sciences) interpret it. This le ads to determining the permissibl e behaviors for society, as opposed to being a tool for political leadership.23 For instance, after the death of Prophet Mohammad, the successors (the khalifahs or Caliphs ) to Prophet Mohammads position were elected by majority consensus, which is ijma However, this practice became less prevalent as the traditions of the tribal Arabs regained prominence. As such, ijma a core value of Islam with clear historical precedent, is not practiced in the 21st century as it was in early Islam. In The Islamic Way of Life Abu al-Ala Mawdudi states The authority of the caliphate is bestowed on the entire group of people, the community as a whole. . Such a society carries the responsibility of the 16 22Goddard, p. 7. 23Gibreel Gibreel The Ulema: Middle Eastern Power Brokers. Middle East Quarterly (Fall 2001). Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 15 23

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caliph ate as a whole and each one of its in dividual[s] shares the Divine Caliphate.24 Mawdudi makes the argument that individu als in Islamic society have th e same rights as that of the caliphate of God, which in turn implies that al l individuals are considered equal. The above referenced implication of equality is in line with the concept of democracy. The concept of baya as described by scholar Abu Ya la Mohammad ibn al-Husayn alFarra, refers to a mutual pledge that holds th e ruler responsible for assuring the supremacy of Gods law and justice, securing human dignity, se rving the public interest, and fulfilling the entire duties of the position, while it holds th e people responsible for supporting the ruler, obeying his decisions that comply with Gods law, and fulfilling their obligations.25 The concept of baya references a mutual relationship between the ruler and the ruled and the responsibility that each share towa rd one another. In this way, baya constitutes the concept of public service. These two term s in tandem mean that the community has to choose a leader by consensus and that leader in turn has re sponsibilities back to the community. Islam and democracy share central values (e.g. justice and equa lity) that may be considered as strong historical precedence fo r supporting the compatibil ity between Islam and democracy; however, in attempting to address comp atibility between the tw o, it is important to understand the interpretati on of Islam that is being utilize d. Al Aqqads interpretation of ijma presented above is compatible with Dahls mi nimal requirements for democracy, which calls for freedom to form and join organizations, freedom of expression, and the right to vote. In short, ijma meets Dahls minimal requirement as rulers must be chosen by the community. 17 24Mawdudi, Abu al Ala. The Islamic Way of Life ( Kazi Pubns Inc. 17 edition, 1999). p.10 25Abu Yala, Mohammad ibn al Husayn al Farra, [d. 458 H/1065 C.E.], al Mutamadfi Usul al Din a chapter published in Yusuf Ibish, Nusus al Fikr al Siyasi al Islami (Beirut: Dar al Talia, 1966) p. 224.

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Additionally, the concept of baya confor ms with Dahls argument that political leaders must continue to serve the desi res of the community. In considering the positive values associated with democracy, Hamza Yusuf, director of the Zaytouna Institute in Californi a, argues that most of what Western society claims as its own highest ideals (e.g. justice and equality) are deeply rooted in Islamic tradition.26 Based on the argument presented by Yusuf, the roots of the va lues associated with democracy are shared values of justice and equality that stem fr om the three Abrahamic religions; they are not exclusively from the West. Similarly, in addressing the compatibility between Islam and democracy, Louay Safi, a member of the board of directors of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (C SID) argues, Islam lays the ground for the values of freedom, justice, and equality that are essential to democracy, more so than any other religion.27 Therefore, numerous scholars like Safi argue that Islam promotes the very values (including freedom, justice, and equality) that are essential to the flourishing of democracy. In brief, Islam and democracy promote the same foundation pertaining to equality, freedom and justice, thus giving support to the argument that Islam is compatible with democracy. The Quran promotes the concepts of liberty, jus tice and equality, which are similar to the values promoted by democracy. There has been recognition of the compatibility of Islam and democracy by American leaders. For exampl e, Director of the St ate Departments policyplanning staff, Richard Haass, in a 2003 article indicated, Many prominent Islamic intellectuals and groups, however, argue that Isla m and democracy are compatible.28 Additionally, there are 18 26Yusuf, Hamza. Islam has a progressive tradition too, The Guardian (June 2002). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2 002/jun/19/religion.september111 27Handwerk. 28Esposito, L. John & Voll, O. John. Islam and Democracy. Humanities (November/December 2001). Vol. 22, No. 6 www.neh.gov/news/humanities/2001 11/islam.html

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no universal teach ings of Islam that conflict w ith democracy, which further supports democracy and Islam are compatible. While there are different inte rpretations of Islam (causing Islam to have a variety of manifestations), the core teachings of Islam are compatible with democracy. For example, while the Quran explicitly states that The command rests w ith none but Allah. He declares the truth, and He is the best of judges, the Quran directs the ummah (Muslim community) to construct legal and political structures that subord inate individuals to the will of society.29 Additionally, the sharia is a set of unchanging beliefs and principl es that order life in accordance with God's will.30 The sharia is derived from two main sources, namely the Quran and the sunna, which describes how Prophet Mohammad lived his life. The sharia presents guidelines that may be referenced when attempting to address social problems. This concept is illustrated in the Quranic verse And we have sent down to you the book as an exposition of everything, a guidance, a mercy and glad tidings to thos e who have submitted themselves to Allah.31 Islamic scholars have interpreted this to mean that public policies must be in conformity with the s haria .32 But it can be argued that the s haria which literally translates to consultation, is itself in agreement with democracy. In other words, the Quran states that those who believe should conduct their (public) a ffairs by mutual consultation.33 Simultaneously, the sharia argues that a systematic role for consulta tion with public repres entatives should occur.34 In other 19 29The Quran Surah 6, verse 57. http://www.wright house.com/religions/islam/Quran/6 cattle.php 30Feldman, Noah. Does Shariah mean the rule of law? The New York Times (Sunday March 16, 2008) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/news/16iht 1 6shariaht.11119704.html?pagewanted=all 31The Quran Surah 16 Verse 89. http://www.islam101.com/quran/yusufAli/index.htm 32Feldman. 33Goddard, p.7. 34Haass, Richard N. Towards Greater Democracy in the Muslim World Council on Foreign Relations (December 4, 2002). http://www.twq.com/03summer/doc/03summer_hass.pdf

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words, consensus on a g iven issue is reached by consulting the public figures, which then becomes legally binding on all Muslims. Recognizing the dynamics of compatibility between Islam and democracy and, in turn, women and Islam is essential to understanding the pres ent day situation in Afghanistan. With the Wests involvement, it is clear that Afghanist ans future is contingent on its ability to understand relations between Islam and democracy a nd to find junctions between the two so that Afghanistan can adapt a version of democracy compa tible with Islam, as it is inconceivable that Islam would not play a major role in the governme nt of Afghanistan. In other words, because Islam and democracy are both here to stay, a common ground based on shared values of each must be reached. The above discussion has shown that a case ca n be made that democracy and Islam are compatible; however, it is unreasona ble to assume that Afghanistan can transition quickly to a democracy. Afghanistan must gradually adapt a version of democracy that the countrys policy makers deem appropriate within the context of Afghanistans cultur e and way of life. Afghanistan must be given the opportunity to adapt to democracy, and if the United States imposes democracy, it would imply domi nation as opposed to democracy. Women and Islam One point of argument for those who claim Islam and democracy are irreconcilable is Islams attitude toward women. These individuals present a weak argument on the basis that Islam treats women as second-class citizens. However, Islam was able to discuss equality of race, gender, and social status during a time period when equality was not even considered an accepted norm. The Quran provided a vast improvement pe rtaining to womens rights in comparison to the situation of women in Arabia prio r to the arrival of Islam. For example, many 20

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scholars would argue that Prophet Mohamm ad may be considered the first feminist of his time, as many radical changes pertaining to womens rights occurred during his time.35 With the Prophets leadership, women gained many new rights, including the right to possess and implement full control over their wealth and the right to inherit propert y. Additionally, strict limits were placed on polygamy under the prophets guidance.36 However, after the Prophet's death the treatment of women and womens rights in Islam began to decline and revert back to pre-Islamic norms.37 The decline in womens rights was simply the result of reverting to tribal norms that were in effect in Arabia pr ior to the arrival of Islam. While Islam and, in turn, the Quran advocates equality between men and women on many grounds; however, the focus of the thesis will be specifically on the areas of creation, religious obligations and educat ion. First and foremost, the Quran states that men and women are equally created. There are various surahs that address the equality in creation between men and women. Specifically, surah 16, verse 72 notes, And Allah has made for you mates (and Companions) of your own nature. .38 This verse confirms that the Quran advocates equality between men and women. Additionally, surah 42, verse 11 notes that (He is) the Creator of Heaven and the Earth: He has made fo r you a pair from among yourselves. .39 This verse further confirms that the Quran advocates for equality in the cr eation of men and women. Also, the Quran advocates equality between men and women in terms of spiritual status as men. For example in the Qur'ans surah 4, verse 124, it is noted that If any do deeds of righteousness-be they male or female and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be 21 35Wolfe, Michael. Muhammad Legacy of a Prophet (PBS, 2002). http://www.pbs.org/muhammad/muhammadand.shtml 36Young, Kathrine. Women in World Religion (State University of New York Press, 1987)37Al Faruqi, Lamya. Islamic Traditions and the Feminist Movement: Confrontation or Cooperation. www.jannah.org 38The Quran Surah 16, Verse 72. www.wright house.com /religions/islam/Quran/16 bee.php 39The Quran, Surah 42, Verse 11. http://www.wright house.com/religions /islam/Quran/42 counsel.php

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done to them,40 and surah 74, verse 38 states, Every soul wi ll be (held) in pledge for its deeds.41 The aforementioned verses confirm that both men and women have the same religious obligations, which supports the argument that Islam advocates equality between men and women. It has to be noted that in some cases, Islam favors women and offers women exemptions from religious obliga tions based on their gender. Fo r example, a woman is exempt from fasting and praying five times a day during her menstrual period. In the field of education, Islam also advocates for equali ty between men and women. Over the centuries, Muslim scholars have come to agree to that the word Muslim is made in reference to both men and women. Consequently, Prophet Mohammad references in the hadith that Muslims have a duty to seek knowledge. Thus, Islam advocates educational equa lity between men and women. As is evident from the hadith Islam requires that women and men ac quire knowledge and education. This implies that Islam advocates for the education of women and encourages women to expand their knowledge. Islam in Afghanistan Today Afghanistan faces the challenge of deciding to embrace democracy while simultaneously maintaining the va lues of Islam. The history of Afghanistans foundation and development is synonymous with a history of stru ggle and of varying Afghan interpretations of Islam. While the West is less religiously-oriented in the post-Westphalian international order, the case of Afghanistan is different, as Islam is d eeply rooted in the countrys political and social structures. In the post-Westphalian international order, Western scholars are often misled to believe that religion has departed from the political sphere acro ss the globe. The intertwined relationship of Islam and polit ics in Afghanistan has a deep historical precedent and, 22 40The Quran, Surah 4, Verse 124. http://www.wright house.com/religions /islam/Quran/4 women.php 41The Quran, Surah 74, Verse 38. http://www.wright house.com/religions /islam/Quran/74 cloaked one.php

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consequently, they continue to operate hand-in-ha nd. The case of Afgha nist an does not fit into the post-Westphalian concept of the role of religion in society and government; rather, in contrast to Western secularism, Is lam is and will remain an essential element in Afghanistan. Throughout Afghanistans history, the influence of Islam on so ciety and politics has been significant. Historically, both religion and culture co llectively shaped Afghanistans government systems. Consequently, Afghan politicians and Islamic legal thinkers, both past and present, have associated the concept of legitimacy with Islam; in ot her words, political legitimacy requires Islam. It is incorrect to view Islams presence in Afghanistan monolithically; there have been various manifestations of Islam in Afghani stan that policy makers must understand in order to accurately analyze the different categorizes and interpre tations of Islam in the country. Life in Afghanistan is saturated by Islam, as Islam pr ovides a system of norms and basis for social morality throughout the country. Because Afghanistan is almost entirely composed of Muslims, this system of norms has become the way of lif e in the country. The Islam that functions in Afghanistan is largely influenced by different tr ibal codes and traditions. These tribal codes have shaped a uniquely Afghan variant of Islam th at is extremely regressive. This means that Afghan Islamic scholars have interpreted the Quran and the hadith in ways that are compatible with Afghan culture. These in terpretations are a stark cont radiction to other countries interpretations of Islam. With respect to the discussion above, it is im portant to discuss the concept of popular Islam, which refers to the way in which the religion structures ever yday life functions in Afghanistan, specifically, in that Islam has differe nt interpretations and applications given the cultural background of the vari ous regions in Afghanistan.42 Thus, for each region in 42Olivier Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 31. 23

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Afghanistan, there are popular inte rpretations of Islam that are heavily dependent upon a melding of Islam as shared by general Islamic principles a nd of local traditions. The result is that popular Islam provides an understanding of Islam that serv es as a system that enjoins good and a belief that obedience to certain rules ensures economic and social justice. Further, Afghan popular Islam also operates in light of a mullah, an individual who oversees the daily functions at the mosque and ultimately controls the religi ous activity in that specific locality.43 The mullah has substantial influence on the way Islam is practiced because the mullahs interpretations are often regarded as the ultimate teachings of Islam. According to the National Risk and Vulnerability Report completed by the UNICEF in 2008, the estim ated national adult literacy rate in Afghanistan is approximately 26 per cent 12 per cent for women and 39 per cent for men.44 The mullah is ultimately the interpreter of Islam for the largely illite rate population in Afghanistan. As a result, the mullahs have an important political role and this role further legitimizes the strict and uniquely Afghan Islami c interpretations that are used for the daily functions of life in the country. The problem becomes that Afghans entertain the regressive interpretations of Islam.45 While Islam is practiced throughout Afghanistan, the various tribes, although within the realm of their unique interpretations of Islam, also have significant influe nce in the country. The largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns are the most influential group. Tribes in Afghanistan are formulated through patrilineal descent, and the notional ancestor of all Pashtuns is Qays, who, it is said, received Islam directly from th e Prophet Muhammad. As a result, Pashtuns deny having any pre-Islamic past or experience of conversion. Being Muslim is thus inseparable from their 24 43Roy. p. 32. 44Ayari, Farida. Afghan Female Literacy Centres bring knowledge and new priorities. UNICEF (October 11, 2010). http://www.unicef.org/mdg /afghanistan_56403.html 45Zakaria.p. 7.

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Pashtun tr ibal heritage.46 This connection leads to an overl ap of Islamic and tribal norms on many issues, which has created a way of life based on tribal norms and uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam. Islam is frequently interpreted in such a way so as to accommodate the tribal and paternalistic structures of Afghan society. In other words, in order to satisfy tribal objectives, Afghans often use Islam as a justification for their actions. As discussed above, Islam continues to pe rmeate the cultural political and economic dimensions of the life of Afghan people. This chapter has attempted to make a multi-tiered and complex argument pertaining to Islam and democr acy and the role of Is lam in Afghanistan. First, this chapter has discusse d the contending views pertaining to the compatibility of Islam and democracy. Next, the chapter has attempted to argue that Islam is very important in Afghanistan and that government legitimacy in Afghanistan is based on Islam. Third, this chapter has attempted to argue that Islam is not monolithic since at the societal level, the Islam that is practiced in Afghanistan is largely sh aped by tribal norms, which in turn leads to a regressive interpretation of Islam. Consequently, attempting to democratize a society characterized by paternalistic rule and tribal orde r that is also directly influenced by a uniquely Afghan version of Islam, will take a significant amount of time and effort. Finally, this chapter has attempted to argue that Islam advocates fo r womens rights and the repressive measures taken against women in Afghanistan are not due to the teachings of Islam, but rather due to the influence of tribal norms associated with a uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam. 25 46Anderson, Jon. How Afghans Define Themselves in Relation to Islam, in Revolutions and Rebellions in Afghanistan eds. M. Nazif Shahrani and Robert L. Canfield (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 274.

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CHAPTER III A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN This chapter focuses on the history of wom en in Afghanistan, as it is extremely important to understand this history in orde r to analyze the present-day situ ation of women in Afghanistan. Additionally, this history is important to anal yze and understand because it provides direction on how womens rights issues should be handled in the present. Although the Taliban came to power in 1996 and began violations towards wome n in Afghanistan shortly thereafter, it was not until the early 2000s that the si tuation of women came to the forefront of Western media attention. The barbaric treatment of these women by the Taliban came to symbolize to Western military powers a justification for war in the name of emancipation of Afghan women. However, the situation of Afgha n women is not unique to the Taliban regime, as there is a history of oppression of women in Afghanistan. For that reason, this chapte r does not merely analyze the history of women in Afghanistan thr ough an ideological formulation of the situation of women before and after the Taliban Rather, the chapter presents an overview of the situation of Afghan women through a larger historical context and in the c ontext of the Afghan culture. Women in Afghanistan have been marginaliz ed based on values promoted by the maledominated Afghan culture, which at its core treats women as s econdary citizens. The cultural restrictions imposed upon Afghan women are co ntrolled by the Afghan patriarchy. In the context of the Afghan culture, every aspect of a womans life, includ ing the right to an education, marriage and style of dress, is contro lled by an immediate male member of her family. While this individual is most commonly an immediate family member, such as a brother, son, father or husband, there are many distant family members, such as uncles and male cousins who have equivalent authority over th e life of the woman. While thes e values of the Afghan culture 26

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have been an active part of wom ens lives throug hout Afghanistans history, the severity of their application has varied based on the invol vement of Islam in the government. Some scholars argue that Islam is the basi s for the second-tier status of women in Afghanistan. In doing so they reference surah 2, verse 228, which states that And women shall have rights similar to rights against them, accordi ng to what is equitable. But men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.47 This verse of the Quran is to some degree controversial as it has been interpreted differen tly by scholars. While some scholars interpreted this verse to reference the inequality between men and women, others argue it implies that men are legally obligated to take re sponsibility for women and does not indicate that men are superior to women. Additionally, Islam was able to discuss equality of race, gender, and social status duri ng a time period when equality was not even considered an accepted norm. A thousand years ago, Islam granted women legal rights to domestic help at the expense of their husbands.48 Afghanistans Legal System 27 In attempting to address womens rights in context of the Afghan cultural norms, it is important to understand the variation and composition of the countrys legal system. As scholar Thomas Barfield notes, In Afghani stan the legal system has been composed of three competing parts: the state legal codes, Islamic religious law ( sharia ) and local customary law.49 In attempting to balance societal f unctions, oftentimes a combinati on of all three law types have been utilized; however, the problem is that in the process of attempting to balance the various types of law, the uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islamic religious law and customary law have 47The Quran. Surah 2, Verse 228. http://www.wright house.com/religions/islam/Quran/2 cow.php 48Yusuf. 49Barfield, Thomas. Afghan Customary Law and Its Relationship to Formal Judicial Institutions. United States Institute for Peace, Washington, DC. June 26, 2003. p. 1 http://www.usip.org/files/file/barfield2.pdf

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som ehow managed to become one in the same. In other words, customary law is often incorrectly assumed to be the same as the sharia. As Barfield argues, Rural Afghans often ignore the gap between sharia law and local custom because th ey often assume (incorrectly) that there were none. Surely their own local traditions must be in accord with Islamic law because they themselves were such good Muslims.50 According to Barfield, due to the high illiteracy rate in Afghani stan, there is widespread misunderstanding of the sharia Consequently, there is often c onfusion in differentia ting between what is customary law and sharia. In order to understand the problem pertaining to womens rights issues, it is important to attempt to present a general over view of Afghan customary law. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries colonial powers throughout most of Asia were able to successfully establish central governments; however, there was no di rect colonial rule in Afghanistan. As a result, local autonomy maintain ed its legitimacy in Afghanistan more so than other countries in the region and consequently the government in Kabul was not able to enforce central authority throug hout Afghanistan. Barfield argues that ultimately the weakness of the central government and the need to preserve orde r led to the empowerment of customary law in rural Afghanistan.51 In order words, the legitimacy of customary law was increased as a response to avoiding anarchy and mainta ining order in rura l Afghanistan. Of the various customary laws, Pashtunwali which is based on Pashtun tribal law codes that constitute customary law in Afghanistan is the most influential.52 While there are other ethnic groups throughout Afghanistan, such as the Hazaras and Tajiks that have customary law codes to which they are obligated to conform, the dominance of Pashtunwali generally takes 28 50Ibid, p. 2851Ibid, p. 3 52Haring, Ellen. Mobilizing Identity in the Pashtun Tribal Belt. Small Wars Journal (2010). p. 2 http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/mobilizing identity in the pashtun tribal belt

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preceden ce over those of the other ethnic groups, as the Pashtuns are the most influential ethnic group in Afghanistan. Pashtunwali specifies norms such as honor, hospitality, gender boundaries, and the institution of jirga, which is a Pashto (One of Afghanistans official languages) term for a decision-making assembly of male elders and is essential to satisfying these tribal codes.53 While the Pashtuns consider being Pashtun and practicing Pashtunwali to be equivalent to being Muslim and adhering to Isla mic law, religious scholars often beg to differ. As the Islamic law to which Pashtun claim to adhere to is a un iquely Afghan interpretation of Islam, instead of the actua l teaching of the religion. One essential factor of Pashtunwali that is relevant to the di scussion on womens rights is the issue of gender boundaries. Specifically, the concept of purdah, Urdu for veil, refers to the boundary between men and womens physical space. While Pashtunwali in conformity with its interpretation of Islam recommends that both men and women conceptually apply purdah, Pashtuns use purdah to control women and impose a gend er segregated order of society directly against women. Through the concept of namus , which makes defense of the honor of women, Pashtuns often impose further restrictions.54 The central problem with imposing these restrictions is that Pashtuns claim the restrictions are in accord ance with the teachings of Islam, but in actuality they are a uniquely Afghan interpre tation of Islam. History of Islam in Afghanistan Islam was initially introduced in Afghanist an in the seventh century CE by Muslim Arabs. These Arabs introduced their religion an d cultural influence throughout Afghanistan. In this process, the Afghan society while observing some values of Islam also observed many of the patriarchal and restrictive values of the Arab tribal sy stem. While Islam spread throughout 29 53Ibid, p.3 54Barfield. p. 5

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Afghan society, the understanding of Islam ic law wa s very shallow. Consequently, Afghan tribal values already in place combined with a version of Arab tribal la ws predominated over those of Islam. Following the introduction of Islam, Afgh anistan went from conqueror to conqueror over the next few centuries. Afghan culture in the 16th and 17th centuries was a mixture of Mughal influence from India and Safavid in fluence from Persia. These influences shaped the culture of Afghan people, who historically we re loyal to tribal leaders. Tribal divisions were to some degree suppressed by an Afghan leader, Ahmad Shah Durrani (1747-1772). Fitzgerald and Gould note that Ahmad Shah Durrani united th e nation of Afghanistan for the first time in modern history while proceeding to extend Afghan control from Ma hshad in northeastern Iran to Kashmir and Delhi in India.55 In an attempt to unify the divergent tribes throughout Afghanistan, Durrani set the foundation for what ma ny future kings in Afghanistan attempted to establish. From Durranis death in 1772 until th e late 1890s, Afghanistan lay in the midst of The Great Game, which is a term used for th e strategic wars that took place between Britain and Russia in attempt to gain control of central Asia.56 During this time, womens rights movements in the United States and European countries were developing, while womens rights issues in Afghanistan were not discussed. The 1890s represented the first time that a ruler, Abdur Rahman Khan (1880-1901), attempted to promulgate Islamic law in Afgha n society. Dr. Homa Ah med-Ghosh notes, Abdur Rahman tried to change some of the customary la ws that were detrimental to womens status. For instance, he abolished the custom of forcing a woman to marry her deceased husbands next of kin, raised the age for marriage and ga ve women the right to divorce in specific 30 55Fitzgerald, Paul. & Gould, Elizabeth. Afghanistans Untold Story. (City Lights Books, 2009). p. 29 56Curtis, Mark. The Great Game: The Reality of Britains War in Afghanistan Secret Affairs February 12, 2011. http://markcurtis.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/the great game the reality of britains war in afghanistan/

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circum stances.57 The Afghan governments decree indicat ed that laws must comply with Islamic law and thus elevated the sharia. As is evident from the improvements during Abdur Rahman Khans rule, the implementation of sharia allowed womens rights issues to be set forth and discussed. Women in Afghanistan were, for the first time, judged based on the teachings of Islam, as opposed to those of the Afghan culture. This empowered women with an opportunity to demand their rights. For example, during this time some of the first schools for girls were opened in Afghanistan and women began emerging to obtain elementary and secondary education. Because Islam is much more tolerant of equality and womens rights than the Afghan culture, these specific values of Is lamic rule were not we ll received by the Afghan male-dominated society. After Abdur Rahman Khan, Habibullah Khan came to power and also implemented many liberal policies pertaining to women. During his rule, Habibullah allowed the return of exiles. Most importantly, he allowed Mahmud Beg Tarzi to return from exile. As the founder and editor of an Afghan national newspaper, Tarzi heavily influenced Habibullahs policies pertaining to women. Ahmed-Ghosh notes, Tar zi was strongly influenced by modern interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence.58 As a product, Ahmed-Ghosh furthe r notes Tarzi viewed women as people who deserved full citizensh ip; he claimed that educated wo men were an asset to future generations and concluded that Islam did not deny them equal rights. Opposition to these reforms by the tribal leaders led to Ha bibullah Khans assassination in 1919. King Amanullah's ten yearreign (1919-1929) in itiated a period of dramatic change in Afghanistan in both foreign and domestic politic s; however, his secular policies were at odds 31 57Ahmed Ghosh, Homa. A History of Women in Afghanistan: Lessons Learnt for the Future. Journal of International Womens Studies (May 2003). Vol. 4 No. 3. p. 3 58Ibid. p. 3

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with the Pan Islamic movement embraced by Muslim leaders in South Asia and the Arab Middle East. After returning from a t our of the Middle East and Euro pe, Amanullah initiated secular reforms throughout the country.59 This new momentum toward secularization resulted in a backlash against womens rights by conservative social forces. For example, Amanullah drew up a written constitution, and attempted to cr eate, a secular framework within which the monarch and government could operate, and to de fine the relationship between religion and the state.60 Amanullahs attempt to separate the state from religion was very unpopular. Specifically, the mullahs as a very influential sector of soci ety aggressively opposed the reforms. Amanullah was overthrown when he attempted to address the extremely sensitive topic of womens rights by discouraging the veil and the oppression of women, and abolishing slavery and forced labor and introducing secular educati on as well as education for girls and nomads.61 After implementing these reforms, Amanullah was forced out of Kabul by the mullahs who deemed his ways contradictory to Islam.62 This determination was based on the mullahs interpretations of Islam and not of the actual teachings of the religion. It took another 30 years before Mohammad Daoud as Prime Minister of Afghanistan (1973 to 1978) officially encouraged gr adual reforms for women in Afghanistan.63 In an attempt to maintain a balance between secularism and Islam, the government of Afghanistan went through a series of constitutiona l updates and reforms relating to women's rights in the 1960s and 1970s; however, their effect was largely limited to women in urban areas of Afghanistan. It is interesting to note that in 1965, the government of Afghanistan submitted a document to the 32 59Ibid. p. 5 60Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: A New History (Cruzon Press, 2001). p. 9361Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 6262Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 6 63Cordovez, Diego. & Harrison, Selig, S. Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal (Oxford University Press, 1995). p. 19

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Comm ission on the Status of Wo men addressing the issue of a UN Declaration on Eliminating Discrimination against Women. The documen t specifically stated that eliminating discrimination required "combating of traditi ons, customs, and usages which thwart the advancement of women,"64 and went on to advocate the use of affirmative action policies to aid women in overcoming the discrimination they faced. One such policy was the 1977 Constitution, which declared Islam the religion of Afghanistan.65 The 1977 Constitution was aimed at attempting to re-implement Islam in the system of governance. When Islams role in the constitution of Afghanistan reemerged, so did some policies pertaining womens rights in the country. Similar to the changing role of Islam in the Afghan government, women in Afghanistan were experiencing social changes as well. These reforms were mainly the result of Amanullahs experience gained during his tour of Europe and the Middle East. In the 1920s upper class urban women appeared in French style attire on the st reets, which was followed by the next decades prohibition on appearing unveiled. Ag ain within three decades, in the 1950s, appearing unveiled became a choice for upper class urban women in Afghanistan.66 It was during this period that education in Afghanistan became co-educational and schools enrolling both boys and girls were started. It is important to understand that the social changes pertaining to women in Afghanistan were limited to the upper and middle class Afghan women in the cities and did not affect rural women. 33 64Isby, David, G. War in a Distant Country, Afghanistan: Invasion and Resistance (London: Arm and Armour Press, 1989). p. 39 65Cordovez & Harrison, p. 1766Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 97

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The Soviet Invasion The m ost drastic change occurred with the December 1979 Soviet invasion, which permanently changed the course of Afghanistan s history. When the Communist regime in Kabul took control, they almost immediately questioned the aut hority of Islam based on their communist beliefs, which dismissed the concept of God and religion. Simultaneously, the new regime questioned the authority of the cultural norms that existed in Afghanistan. In other words, the Soviet Union essentially challenged th e entire infrastructure of Afghan society, which was balanced to some degree on tribal norms and an Afghan version of Islam. During this time, some social changes came about for Afghan women; however, there was very limited change at the infrastructure level. The 1978-88 decade is often referred to as the decade of change.67 For example, during this period some urban women so cialized in dances clubs, some worked in factories and dowry was outlawed. While these changes were incorporated, the changes stripped Afghan people of the two most fundamental aspects of their lives Islam and culture. Although the Soviet Union had established ties with Afghani stan since the 1920s, it was not able to establish a supportive governm ent in the country until the late 1970s.68 In 1978, a pro-Soviet President Nur M. Taraki came to power through a violent military coup. Although Taraki announced liberal programs to reconstruct the entire social structure of Afghanistan, his regime did not have popular support. The comm unist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan obtained control of Afghanistan and attempted to in stitute radical reforms affecting the rights and status of women.69 These reforms included the prohibition of a number of cultural practices with regard to marriage and family law that were wi dely considered and claimed to be "Islamic" 34 67Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 10768Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 12269Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 130

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within Afghan society. These practices were m e rely the uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam in the context of the patriarchal Afghan culture that was being imposed on women. However, in order justify their pres ence in Afghanistan and gain suppor t for the Communist ideology, the Soviet Union constructed policy to present Islam as a repressi ve religion that had to be undermined in order to free the pe ople of Afghanistan. This policy by the Soviet Union was not well received, as Islam is insepa rable from Afghan society. In 1979 when the Soviet Union formally inva ded Afghanistan, it did so in the wake of extreme public opposition, creating great challenges for the Soviet Union in maintaining its legitimacy in Afghanistan. During this time, the Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in the Cold War. The ultimate competition of the Cold War was based on a global desire for expanding each superpow ers ideological influence. Thus, the United States was deeply interested in ensuring Soviet failure in Afghanistan. In an attempt to encourage this failure, the United States began various covert operations aimed at undermining the Soviet Union. The Mujahidin-Occupied Afghanistan In response to the Soviet invasion, a resistance group, the Mujahidin (Islamic fighters) formed.70 Although the Mujahidin divided into several factions they rallied around a central Islamic theme. The Mujahidin were the main recipients of foreign aid, specifically U.S. aid, as the superpower attempted to undermine the Soviet Union. As the Soviet-U.S. rivalry was fought in then communist-controlled Afghanistan, some urban Afghan women were quickly adapting to Western ways, but simply in terms of appearance In other words, while women in Afghanistan 35 70Arbabzadah, Nushin. The 1980s Mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad. The Guardian Thursday April 28, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comme ntisfree/ 2011/apr /28/afghanistan mujahideen taliban

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were adapting a W estern style of clothing and othe r such simple things they were simultaneously constant targets of abuse by the male dominated society in Afghanistan. Throughout the 1980s the main focus domes tically and internationally was the communist-anticommunist divisi on in Afghanistan. Women who were associated with the communist sector were portrayed in context of th e values of western ideology. In other words, the women living in Afghanistan were showcased as samples of freedom brought about by the Soviet invasion and demolishment of Islamic valu es and Afghan culture. On the other hand, the proMujahidin women were simply that, women who supported the cause of the Mujahidin Afghan women during this period were merely used as symbols by each side, with neither focusing on the individual woman as a human being. In both cases, Afghan women during this period worked as teachers, nurses, doctors and also served in many service-based positions. Based on the above discussion, it can be argued th at both Islamic and Western values supported womens active participation in so ciety during the AfghanSoviet conflict. However, it has to be noted that regardless of satisfying these need-b ased positions, little atte ntion was given to the actual rights of Afghan wo men who continued to be marginalized at all levels of society. With the support of foreign aid the Mujahidin were ultimately successful in driving out the Soviets in 1989, but not in their attempts to construct a political alternative to govern Afghanistan after their victory.71 Consequently, civil war quickly broke ou t between the different factions of the Mujahidin The newly established Mujahidin government gradually failed to maintain its legitimacy in the wake of dissipating foreign aid. Since 1979, foreign aid mainly from Saudi Arabia and the United States sustained the Mujahidin movement; however, 36 71Arbabzadah.

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when this aid gradually be gan to decrease so did the Mujahidins ab ility to remain in power. 72 As a 1999 Amnesty International report asserts, During the conflict and civil war in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly between 1992 and 1995, arme d factions turned th e traditional norms of honor and shame into weapons of war, engaging in rape and sexual assa ult against women of opposing groups as an ultimate means of dis honoring entire communities and reducing people's capacities to resist military advances.73 Throughout Afghanistan pe ople experienced extortion, kidnapping, burglary, and acts of dishonoring women. The Mujahidin had forfeited the trust they once enjoyed. For example, armed guards engaged in rape and sexual assault against women as an ultimate means of dishonoring entire communities and reducing people's capacity to resist military advances. In short, the Mujahidin rejected the reforms instituted by Islam and even the communist government and demanded a return of women to their traditional roles, arguing that this restricted role for women was part of Islam. In reality, this restricted role was part of the Mujahidins ideology and not in accordance with the teachings of Islam. The TalibanOccupied Afghanistan 37 A combination of civil war and economic di stress allowed for a more radical group, the Taliban to officially come to power in 1996.74 The Taliban may be classified as the most horrific chapter in the history of Afghanistan. The Taliban implemented a unique version of Islamic teachings to satisfy thei r selfish and fundamentalist interests, as they attempted to preserve the classical period of Islam that existed after the death of Prophet Mohammed. This is a misinterpretation of Islam because Islam, as a religion, advocates for adapting with society and accepting change; rather than going back in time. The concept of ijtihad, which guides Muslims 72Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 213 73Amnesty International, 1999, Women in Afghanistan: Pawns in Men's Power Struggles, AI Index: ASA November 01, 1999. http://www.amnesty.org/en/ library/info/ASA11/011/1999 74Gasper, Phil Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban International Socialist Review November December 2001. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Afghanistan/Afghanist an_CIA_Taliban.html

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to adapt to n ew trends so as to ensure self-pr ogress as well as communal progress, confirms that Islam advocates change to accommodate oneself and society.75 The main cause for preserving the notion of classical Islam was due to the lack of general education among the Taliban who were mainly orphans of displaced Afghan Pashtun tribal groups living in refugee camps in the North-West Frontier Provin ce in the summer of 1994.76 These orphans received education in religious madrassas that taught an extremel y strict version of Islam fundamentalism. Consequently, the Taliban quickly manipulated the teachings of Islam to implement laws for their own benefit. As scholar Ahmed Rashid asserts, The Taliban represented nobody but themselves and they recognized no Islam except their own.77 In other words, the Taliban attempted to rule based on an extremely fundamentalist version of what th ey interpreted as the teachings of Islam. In reality the Talibans version of Islam was completely contradictory to the actual values of the religion. The Taliban imposed a brutal and oppressive rule on the people of Afghanistan, and the women suffered most traumatically. While init ially, the disgraceful crimes committed by the Mujahidin had made even the Taliban a welcomed regime in Afghanistan, it was soon realized that the practices of the Taliban were simply inhumane. The only positive aspect of the Taliban regime was their ability to restor e security throughout the country.78 They decreased crime and corruption and made the streets a safer place to be and in return wanted Afghans to make a big sacrifice: submission of the he art, body and mind. Although the Taliban claimed to base their ruling on the teachings of Islam, ev ery act practiced by them was in stark contradiction to Islam. 38 75Khan, M. A. Muqtedar. Common Ground: Two theories of ijtihad. March 22, 2006 http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security Ind ustry/2006/03/22/Common Ground Two theories of ijtihad/UPI 47791143060954/ 76Fitzgerald & Gould. p. 22377Rashid, Ahmed. 2000. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale University Press, 2000). pp. 88 & 113 78Gasper.

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Steven Oftin oski notes, As Islamic extremists, the Talibans interpretation of Islamic law was rigid and unyielding.79 While in reality, Islam is a religi on that yields to circumstances and takes into consideration the situation at hand. Even though women in Afghanistan have b een oppressed for centuries according to Western standards, they hardly kne w true oppression until the atrocious Taliban regime. The lives of Afghan women were shattered in th e human rights catastrophe that devastated Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. The regime was not hesita nt in restricting the rights and public roles of women. Quickly, policy was im plemented which abolished womens rights, including the rights to association, freedom of e xpression and employment.80 For example, they outlawed the public appearance of women and prohibi ted them from participation in every aspect of public life. While Islam does not advocate what the Taliban were implementing in Afghanistan, internationally, the Taliban quickly became known as representatives of Islam. The atrocities brought forward by the Taliban were publicized by Western media, which included forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a husband, father, brother or son.81 Further, women were obligated to be covered from head to toe in the traditional burqa an enveloping outer garment. One of the most inept policies implemented by the Taliban was to segregate men and women into separate hospitals.82 This policy contradicted itself in that the medical workers in these hospitals were males, because female medical workers were banned from working. In other words, women were completely denied health care. Taliban policies that restricted women's rights and denied basic needs were often brutally and arbitrary enforced by the "rel igious police" usually in the 39 79Oftinoski, Steven. Nations in Transition: Afghanistan. (Facts On File Inc., 2004), p. 32 80Gasper.81Gasper.82Rashid, p. 113

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for m of public beatings. These actions taken by the Taliban were self-servingly associated with the teachings of Islam, which is simply a fabrication. The previous historical overview has demonstr ated that the womens rights violations in Afghanistan were not the result of Islam as is often portrayed by the West. Rather, the womens rights violations in Afghanistan contradict the teachings of Islam and stem from a uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam that is heavily influenced by the male-dominated society in Afghanistan. The situation of Afghan women is of ten presented in light of Islam. In other words, the West claims that the womens rights abuses that exist in Afghanistan stem from Islam. In reality, the treatment of women under the Taliban was simply the result of a fundamentalist group that did not even unders tand the true values of Islam. Along with the rest of the Afghan populati on, Afghan women also continued to suffer throughout the regime of the Taliban As author Jonathan Steele asserts, Finally, in October 2001, the United States responded to the 9/11 terro rist attacks and cracked down on the regime, not for their catastrophic actions toward Afghan women, which had been going on for five years, but for providing a bases of operation for Osama bin Laden.83 However, the rhetoric used by the United States prior to its invasion of Afghanistan brought a new hope for Afghan women. The main rationale that the United States put fo rward was eliminating Al Qaeda. According to Oftenoski the relief felt thr oughout Afghanistan was immediate and infectious. The terrible rule of the Taliban had been lifted and the populace rejoiced in its newfound freedom. It was time to begin rebuilding a devastated country after mo re than two decades of harsh rule, war and displacement.84 Although the rebuilding be gan quickly, it failed to address the core issues of 40 83Steele, Jonathan. Osama bin Laden: the legacy for Afghanistan The Guardian May 02, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/co mmentisfree/ 2011/may/02/osama bin laden afghanistan 84Oftinoski, p. 38

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the country. Afghanistans history in the peri od after the Unites Stat es invasion will be discussed in the f ollowing chapter. 41

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CHAPTE R IV THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN SINCE 2001 This chapter analyzes the situation of women in Afghanistan in the postTaliban period in context of the following issues. First, and most im portantly, this chapter discusses the role of the United States relating to womens rights in Afgha nistan and argues that the United States has not fulfilled the initial promises made for Afghan women. In doing so, the chapter focuses on the minimal achievements of the United States in th e field of womens right s. Additionally, this chapter provides an overview of the Nationa l Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). Next, the chapter presents an ove rview of womens rights under the Karzai government, which discusses Karzais alternatin g policies pertaining to womens rights, the ineffectiveness of the Ministry of Womens Affair s, and the lack of a uniform legal system in Afghanistan. The latter part of the chapter focuses on the continuing threat of the Taliban in Afghan society and the recent negotiations with the Taliban Under the Taliban regime, the United Nations and its most influential member, the United States, showed a general willingness to tolera te the violations that were occurring against women in Afghanistan as the United Stat es was not taking any action against the Taliban or the repressive regimes that were in power before the Taliban. For example, the United States was providing aid to the mujhideen who, as discussed in Chapter three, committed mass violations against women in Afghanistan. While women's rights advocates were us ing the term "Gender Apartheid" to convey the message that the rights violati ons experienced by Afghan women were in substance no different than those e xperienced by blacks in Apartheid South Africa,85 42 85Verdirame, Guglielmo. "Testing the Effectiveness of International Norms, UN Humanitarian Assistance and Sexual Apartheid in Afghanistan. Human Rights Quarterly (August 2001) Vol. 23 No.3 pp. 733 768.

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Afghan wom en continued to be ignored. It took fi ve years and the retaliat ion associated with the 9/11 attacks for the United States to seriously consider the issue of womens rights in Afghanistan as an urgent problem th at required immediate attention. The U.S.-Occupied Afghanistan In 2001, the United States used womens rights violations as one of the primary rationales and justificatio ns for intervention in Afghanistan. In a November 2001 radio address, First Lady Laura Bush claimed that the interv ention in Afghanistan le d to emancipation of Afghan women. She noted, a worldwide effort to focus on the brutality against women and children by the al-Qaida terrori st network and the regime it supports in Afghanistan, the Taliban . .the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.86 Laura Bushs speech shows that the United States was using womens emancipation as one of main justifications for invading Afghanistan. At the same time, Afghanistan, with encouragement from the West, began addressing the violations of womens rights that Afghan women were experiencing. However, since that time, bot h Afghanistan and the United States have had limited accomplishments pertaining to womens right s in the country. Specifically, the following mechanisms were employed to address wome ns rights issues, at least on paper: the establishment of the Ministry of Womens Affairs (MOWA) and implementation of the quota system that called for 27 % quota of reserved se ats in the lower house of parliament and 17 % quota of reserved seats in the uppe r house of parliament, as well as the right of women to vote in elections.87 In addition, development in the ar eas of education fo r women, health, and 43 86Radio Address by Laura Bush to the Nation (November 17 2001) http://avalon.law.yale.edu/sept11/fl_001.asp 87Dalherup, Drude & Nordlund, Anja. Gender Quotas a key to equality? A Case Study of Iraq & Afghanistan. European Political Science (2004). Vol. 3. No. 3. pp. 91 98

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socioeconom ic status were on the agenda of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). As a result of the 2001 Bonn Agreement, an interim government was appointed to handle Afghanistans affairs; through the jirga the pro-U.S., Hamid Karzai was announced as interim president in 2002. The results of the election was announced through a United Nations count that . .of the 1,555 votes cast, 1,295 were for Hamid Karzai.88 While the media constantly debated the nature of the voting system and issue of buying votes, it was announced that Karzai was elected president by an overwhelming majority.89 Shortly after, aid from the United States and its allies began flowing into Afghanistan; how ever, most of this aid was only partially being used for the intended purpose. As historian Steven Oftinoski stated, Even with millions of dollars in aid, there are few government resource s to relieve widespread hunger, disease, and poverty.90 Regardless of billions of dollars in aid monies flowing into th e country, Afghanistan continues to suffer from poverty, a fragile educa tional system, and lack of human and womens rights. Women in Afghanistan are largely subject to serious violations of their rights, which challenge their development as human beings. In referencing the situation of women in Afghanistan, NAPWA notes, their situation is particularly poor in the areas of health, deprivation of rights, protecti on against violence, economic productivity, education and literacy, and public participation.91 This description of the situation of Afghan women shows that they 44 88Mills, Nick. B, Karzai: The failing American Intervention and the Struggle for Afghanistan (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007). p. 188 89Gall, Carlotta. Election of Karzai Is Declared Official New York Times November 4, 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/04/inter national/asia/04afghan.html 90Oftinoski, p. 39 91National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan. The Governments Main Vehicle for Implementing Policies and Commitments to Advance the Status of Women. 2007 2017 p. 11

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continue to s uffer since the decade long U.S. in tervention in Afghanistan. As noted by Gideon Rachman, Even under the current government, the situation of Afghan wo men is pretty grim. Last week Human Rights Watch released a report highlighting the hundred s of wom en who are currently jailed in Afghanistan fo r moral crimes, such as resisting a forced marriage, or even complaining about rape.92 While these women in most cases have simply demanded their rights as humans, under the Karzai government (and desp ite the guaranteed co nstitutional equality), this has been translated to be considered a moral crime. Ministry of Womens Affairs As an initial step in addressing wome ns rights, the Bonn Agreement called for establishment of the Ministry of Womens A ffairs (MOWA), which is dedicated to womens affairs and advancement. While MOWA was in itiated as part of the program to improve womens situation in Afghanista n, the aid money provided by th e West was not allocated to MOWA, which had to rely on funds from a Canadian NGO, Rights and Democracy in 2002.93 As Suzanne Goldenberg outlines, Dr. Sima Samar, who was the Minister of Women's Affairs at that time, complained about not receiving aid or even an office from which to operate.94 At the same time, former Afghan Mujahidin were receiving millions of dollars in aid money.95 The initial failure to fund MOWA casts doubt on the si ncerity of the United States desire to help Afghan women. As referenced in the Nove mber 2001 radio address, Laura Bush noted, because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned 45 http://sgdatabase.unwomen.org/upl oads/National%20Action%20Plan%20 for%20the%20Women%20of%20Afghan istan%202007%20to%202017.pdf 92Rachman, Gideon. The west has lost in Afghanistan.Columnists. March 26, 2012. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ae13198c 74e1 11e1 ab8b 00144feab49a.html#axzz1qpZ4BQlb 93Rights and Democracy. Afghanistan: Support for ministry of women's affairs http://www.ichrdd.ca February 23, 2002 94Goldenberg, Suzanne. Cash not compassion is what women need The Guardian January 16, 2002. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/ jan/17/ afghanistan.suzannegoldenberg 95Gasper.

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in their homes.96 As is evident from this statement by Laura Bush, despite very minimal achievements, the United States was not hesitant in issuing official statements claiming that the women of Afghanistan were quickly liberated through the military advancement of the United States in Afghanistan. After its establishment, despite advocating for womens rights, MOWA has been criticized for its motives and for its ability to genuinely help Afghan women. Since 2002, the ministry has witnessed four ministers. Also, similarly to the parliame ntarians who will be discussed later in the chapter, ministers of th e Ministry of Womens Affairs are considered subjects rather than participants in the political process, and often associated with warlords who hinder womens rights. Often MO WA is associated with being part of the central government and while it is included in the discussions/processes, it has little influence on having a perspective on reconstruction of Afghanistan. Additionally, MOWA is often criticized as an extension of the corrupt Karzai government that simply advances the same polices as the Karzai government. Consequently, in a recent case re garding control over womens shelters in Afghanistan, concern regarding MOWAs genuine motives was voiced. A recent report noted, The women who run the shelters rightly see the MoWA legislation as an insulting provision that will re-victimise women.97 This shows that there is little confidence in this supposed body of government dedicated to advancement and equality of Afghan women. One major accomplishment in the field of womens rights was the signing of the Declaration of Essential Right s of Afghan Women in March of 2003. As Jan Goodwin notes, this emancipation document guarantees equality between men and women, equal protection 46 96Radio Address by Laura Bush. 97Mosadiq, Horia. Amnesty Internationals Afghanistan Researcher. February 14, 2011 http://www.wluml.org/zh hans/node/6965

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under the law, equal right to e ducation in all disciplines, fr eedom of movement, freedom of speech and political participation, and freedom to wear or not wear the burqa or any form of head covering.98 As a signatory of this emancipati on documentation, Afghanistan, at least in theory, is obligated to guarantee equality be tween men and women. While signing the document was a positive step in the right direction, achieving advances in womens rights in Afghanistans patriarchal society is often very difficult. Moreover, Afghanistan has entered into numerous treaties and ratified various Conventions, including the Universal Declar ation of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of a ll forms of Discrimination against Women.99 This in turn implies that Afghanistan has an international obligation to prot ect Afghan women. Regardless, the central problem pertaining to womens rights, which is attempting to decode the structure of Afghan so ciety, has yet to be addressed. As discussed in Chapter two, understanding Islams compatibil ity with democracy, and Islam s centrality to Afghans, is important; however, the way Islam is understood in Afghanistan is for the most part actually based on tribal customs, which are authoritarian and patriarchal. Th erefore, decoding these tribal customs and authoritarian traditions is essent ial for bringing about emancipation of Afghan women. Afghanistan also has a constitution that advocat es gender equality. According to Dr. Lau, the Constitution of Afghanistan, passed by the C onstitutional Loya Jirga in 2003 and ratified by Karzai in 2004, proclaims that 'any kind of discrimination and privilege among the citizens of Afghanistan is prohibited (Article 22), and th e citizens of Afghanistan have equal rights and 47 98Goodwin, Jan An Uneasy Peace The Nation April 29, 2002 http://www.thenation.com/article/uneasy peace99Rights and Democracy.

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duties b efore the law (Article 23).100 This is by default taken to indicate constitutionally guaranteed equality of men and women in the country. Although constitutionally-guaranteed, the rights of Afghan women are jeopardized due to the cultur al norms of the country and uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam. Another major factor in addressing the cu rrent situation of women in Afghanistan pertains to the countrys lega l system. According to resear ch conducted by the International Commission of Jurists and a report presented by Dr Martin Lau, Afghanist an does not have a uniform legal system.101 With lack of a uniform legal system, it is virtually impossible for change pertaining to womens rights to be impos ed from above. Consequently, as citizens, Afghan women face constitutional equa lity but legal inequality. As discussed in the previous chapter, it is difficult to have these constitu tional provisions implemented because of the weakness of the central government, which has hi storically been a fact or in Afghanistan. The United States has been partially successful in enacting some different legislation for the women in Afghanistan. First, the United Stat es compelled quota legislation for women in the Afghan Constitution, which resulted in an increas ed number of women in the Afghan political sphere. Prior to completing the quota legislati on, the pro-U.S. Karzai also took steps toward emancipation of women. The direction of Afghanist ans future was partially headed in the right direction in the early years following the U.S. I nvasion, as clear-cut policies were being initiated, at least on paper. To cite improvements to womens rights Un ited States officials often refer to the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan, which in total accomp lished three different things: gave women the 48 100Lau, Martin. Afghanistans Legal System and its Compatibility with International Human Rights Standards International Commission of Jurists.p. 6 101Ibid. p. 8

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right to vote in elections, serv e in the governm ent, and be elected to the parliament. In incorporating electoral gender quota policies to mandate partic ipation of women in the new political system, the constitution obtained one of the main achievements in the field of womens rights. Specifically, 27 % of the seats in the lower house of parliament and17 % of seats for women in the upper house are reserved for women. 102 Krook, OBrien, and Swip point out that To fill the former, the Electoral Commission allo cated reserved seats to each province based on the size of its population until the total number of female representatives mirrored the constitutional mandate.103 As a result of this policy, women form 27 % of members of parliament in Afghanistan. While the United St ates references this percentage of women parliamentarians as a sign of the freedom of women in Afghanistan and consequently the United States success in the country, in reality these wome n are not full participants in the process. The women parliamentarians in Afghanistan are largely subjects rather than participants in the political process, as they are virtually absent as participan ts. Scholars David Cortright and Sarah Smiles Persinger argue that many women parl iamentarians are aligned with warlords and vote according to their sectarian and factional intere sts, rather than in support of womens rights issues.104 Although on occasion women act as spokespersons and hold press conferences, they ultimately simply reiterate Karzais policies and do not have a distinct voice. Rather, the women parliamentarians simply affirm the conclusions dictated by the men in charge, with the exception of at least one, Malalai Joya. As Tom Coghlan notes, She has made her name as a woman's 49 102Dalherup & Nordlund. 103Krook, Mona L. OBrien, Diana Z. & Swip, Krista M. Military Invasion and Women's Political Representation. International Feminist Journal of Politics. (2010). Vol. 12. No. 1. pp. 66 79 104Cortright, David, and Sarah Smiles Persinger. Afghan Women Speak: Enhancing Security and Human Rights in Afghanistan October 2010. http://www.peacewomen.org/portal_resources_resource.php?id=1462

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rights activist who has att acked Afghanistan' s most powerful institution, the mujhideen .105 Joya has been openly critical of the injustices committed by members of Karzais government. In 2007, the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament vot ed to suspend Joya for comments she made during a television interv iew the previous day.106 Joyas critical openness caused her suspension from the Parliament. Additionally, it has to be noted that these women in the parliament do not constitute more than a few hundred women out of Afghanistans entire p opulation. Even still, they are show-figures and have no actual say in the ultimate decision making process, as the decisions and policies for the Afghan governme nt, including womens rights issues, are administered by Karzai and hi s male-dominated government. National Action Plan fo r Women of Afghanistan In 2006, Afghanistan, under the guidance of the international community, signed the Afghan Compact, a commitment to begin the na tional rebuilding process through an agenda focused on security, governance, rule of law, a nd human rights, as well as economic and social development for women in Afghanistan. 107 In an attempt to fulfilled this commitment, the Afghan National Development Strategy was establis hed, which later led to the development of the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanist an (NAPWA). As outlined in NAPWA, both the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) reiterate a commitment to implement the Constitutional guar antees of non-discrimination and equality of women and men in rights and duties.108 The ultimate goal of NAPWA was to ensure the three main themes of the United Nations Decade for Women peace, development, and equality , 50 105Coghlan, Tom. Afghan MP says she will not be silenced BBC News January 27, 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4606174.stm 106RAWA. Afghanistan: Member of Parliament, Malalai Joya, suspended for 'criticizing colleagues' May 2007. http://www.wluml.org/zh hans/node/3727 107National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan. 108Ibid, p. 12

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through the prom otion of institutions and indi viduals to be responsible implementers of womens empowerment and gender equality. 109 According to NAPWA, this would be accomplished through participation, support, an d partnership between and among women and men.110 NAPWA focuses on six sectors that are n ecessary for increasing the improvement of womens status in Afghanistan. The sectors are as follows: secu rity, legal protection and human rights, leadership and political participation, economy, work and pove rty, health and education. 51 In the field of security, the government of Afghanistan asserted that security is a prerequisite to womens rights. Through the NAPWA, the government of Afghanistan seeks to create a secure environment for women to ensu re their empowerment. Despite these goals, Afghan women have not obtained any level of increased security. While as result of the quota system and other such programs there has been an increase in the contri bution and participation of women in the public sphere, this has simultane ously led to the vulnerab ility of Afghan women to attacks, harassment, and aggression. Acco rding to NAPWA, Laws and protective measures have not yet been developed in this regard, and women have to endure livi ng in fear and anxiety in the course of fulfilling their civic obligations and contributing to nation building.111 In a recent article, Sam Zarifi, Director of Amnesty In ternational, referenced the drive-by shooting of Provincial Council member, Nida Khyani, as a nother causality of the systematic violent targeting of women in pub lic life in Afghanistan.112 This is indicative of the fact that while NAPWA claimed security as one of its pillars for Afghanistan, it has failed to adequately protect women in the public sphere. Additionally, a lthough Afghanistan is a signatory of the UN Declaration of Elimination of Violence Against Women, it has failed to comply with the 109Ibid, p. 13110Ibid, p. 14111Ibid, p. 27112Amnesty International. Afghanistan: Attack on female politician highlights growing risk to women. April 09, 2010. http://www.wluml.org/node/6165

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requirem ents of this document. This also confirms that the Afghan government has failed to provide legal protection and human rights for women in Afghanistan. However, it has to be noted that one aspect of NAPWAs security se ctor is the affirmative action policy. NAPWA states that in accordance with the governments commitment to empower women, the Ministries of Interior and Defense will devise a strategy to attain a minimum 20 percent increase over a period of 10 years in the current level of womens representation in their respective ministries.113 By increasing the number of women in the Interior and Defense Ministries, the direct involvement in enforcement of policies ma y assist in furthering womens rights. While there has been a gradual increase in the number of women in the Minist ries of Interior and Defense, there is a high level of discrimination ag ainst women participating in these sectors. Other sectors that NAPWA deems important for empowerment of womens rights and requires improvement of include the following: leadership and political participation, economy, health and education for women. As outlined in the preceding paragraphs, there has some been an increased number of women in the Afgha n government; however, the effectiveness and improvement of womens political participation is subject to debate as many argue that these women are simply showcased for advancement of justice for women in Afghanistan but do not have any substantial roles. As for educational improvement, an in-depth an alysis of the improvement of education in Afghanistan shows that while there has been improvement in the education system, the improvement is limited to a small sector of th e urban society. In showcasing its success in Afghanistan, the United States often times refere nces the improved educa tional system of the country. The United States has helped facilitate the enrollment of students and an increased 52 113National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan.

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num ber of schools in Afghanistan. While there has been a significant increase in enrollment since 2001, there are serious constr aints pertaining to womens e ducation. Specifically, girls access to schools is limited due to th e lack of school facilities, in particular girls schools and girls secondary schools, lack of female teacher s, and insecurity. According to a World Bank Report, Afghanistan: National Reconstruction and Poverty Reduction the Role of Women in Afghanistan's Future, prepared using informati on from Central Office of Statistics & UNICEF, 2004, Afghanistan saw the highest school enrollment rates in its history, with more than 4.3 million children enrolled in primary and secondar y school in 2003, of which one-third were girls. In the age group 7-12 years, 67% of boys and 40.5% of girls were enrolled.114 One important factor to be noted is that there are significant disparities both on a rural-urban basis, as well as on a regional level. As the World Bank report notes, the spurt in enrollment still represents only a little more than half of school-age children and 40% of the girls. Moreover, these figures hide dramatic regional and urban-rural disparities, with girls representing less than 15% of total enrollment in nine provinces in the east and south.115 In analyzing the health improvements for wo men in Afghanistan as part of NAPWAs womens empowerment strategy, it is important to understand the magnitude of the problem surrounding womens health in Afghanistan. As NAPWA outlines, Afghan women are among the worst off women in the world as measured by high fertility, low relative and absolute life expectancy, extremely high Maternal Mortal ity Rates (MMR), malnutrition, and other indicators.116With this dire condition of health care in the country, NAPWA set forth a plan for betterment of medical services and infrastructure throughout the country and (most importantly) 53 114World Bank. Afghanistan: National Reconstruction and Poverty Reduction the Role of Women in Afghanistan's Future. (March 2005). p. 34115Ibid. p. 33 116Ibid. p. 72

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for wom en in the rural parts of Afghanistan. It is important to note that the accessibility of health care facilities has historically been a concern for Afghanistan. Additionally, the report advises that people, and (most importantly) wome n in rural areas, do not have access to health care facilities as much as women in Kabul do. Referencing information gathered from UNICEF and CDC, 2002 reports, In 2002 there was one female nurse per 58,988 of population in Balkh Province, while there was one female nurse per 470,500 populations in G hor Province. . In Nimroz, Paktika and Khost Provinces, there was not a single basic health facility providing delivery care services with a female physicia n, doctor's assistant, nurse or midwife.117 Additionally, NAPWA, in referencing Article 54 of the Afghan Constitution, notes the State will adopt necessary measures to ensure physical and psychological well-being of the family, especially of child and mother. De spite this commitment, the Afghan government does not dedicate a generous budget to the countrys health care progra m. According to a recent news article from Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), Afghanistan's government and foreign donors spend barely $10 a person on health.118 This is inductive that while the NAPWA aimed at medical facility improvements for women in Afghanistan, the government is not allocating sufficient funds for the health care sector. Despite being a signatory on different emanci patory documents, Karzais policies have lacked support for womens right s. In 2009, Karzai signed the Shia Family Law, which had a controversial provision that many womens righ ts advocates argued legalized marital rape. 119 While the law was intended to regulate family life inside Afghanistan's Shiite community, which makes up about 20 % of this country of 30 million people, in actuality it undermined 54 117Ibid p. 24 118Taylor, Rob. Impoverished Afghans shouldering burden of health care. April 17, 2011. http://www.rawa.org/temp/rune ws/2011/04/17/impoverished afghans shouldering burden of health care.html 119Starkey, Jerome. Afghanistan: Karzai accused of bid to 'legalise rape.' The Independent. March 31, 2009

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constitutional and hum an rights of women in Af ghanistan. Jerome Starkey references a quote from a women parliamentarian, Shinkai Karokha il, who vigorously campaigned against the legislation, "It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."120 This law drew wide criticism fr om the West, who also referenced its concern for womens rights in Afghanistan. Despite opposition from internat ional and Afghan womens rights activists, the bill was signed to law. It required a treme ndous amount of pressure from womens activist groups for Karzai to revise the law to some degree; the revised version of th e law, in contrast to the original version, does not require a wo man to submit to sex with her husband. 55 selves. Although the United States has failed to im prove living conditions for women, U.S. policy makers are hesitant to accept their failu re. Moreover, while the Karzai Administration occasionally claims to support womens rights, it is also not hesitant to introduce legislation that is deliberately discriminatory towards women. For example, the Karzai administration, under the guidance of the United States, is currently a ttempting to reinforce some of the same policies pertaining to womens rights that were in effect under the Taliban. For example, on March 06, 2012, President Karzai endorsed a code of conduc t recently issued by the Ulema Council in Afghanistan.121 While the Ulema Councils statement addressed several issues, the most relevant for this thesis pertai ns to how women should be treated and should conduct them Specifically, as Heather Barr notes, the statemen t referenced that women should not travel without a male chaperone. Women should not mi x with men while studying, or working, or in public. Women must wear the Islamic hijab. Women are secondary to men.122 While this code of conduct is claimed to be in accordance with Islami c law, in reality it is a direct implication of 120Ibid.121Vogt, Heidi. Afghan president backs strict guidelines for women. Associated Press. March 06, 2012. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi b in/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/03/06/international/i073316S04.DTL 122Barr, Heather. Are Afghan Women better off after a decade of war? CNN March 8, 2012. http://www.hrw.org/news/list/41

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the uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam which, as stated previously, is highly biased on the basis of influence from Afghanistans patriarchal culture. As outlined in a recent Associated Press article, womens rights advoc ates are concerned that Kar zais endorsement means that existing or planned laws aimed at protecting womens rights may be sacrificed for peace negotiations.123 Today, development for womens health, politic al power, education, a nd social status in Afghanistan are some of the major concerns that must be addre ssed in discussing the reconstruction of the country; however, the United St ates is not even addre ssing these issues in a rhetorical sense. In a recent article, scholars Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl argue that You have to go back 10 months to find any sustained rhetoric from President Barack Obama about the importance of assuring the security of women in Afghanistan.124 Regardless of the United States policy, the Afghan government cu rrently faces a country with a number of difficult decisions and challenges including the ability to secure womens rights. While the government claims to give women an important pl ace, enforcing such causes continues to be an ongoing challenge. Continuing Threat of the Taliban & Negotiations The people of Afghanistan await a genuine challenge: addressing womens rights. The United States occupation of Afghanistan has no t improved the standard of living for Afghan women, and the Taliban continue to be an imminent threat to women in Afgha nistan. There are many incidents in which the Taliban have asserted their importance and activity in Afghanistan. For example, in August 2008, militant gunmen murd ered three teacher trainees who had just 56 123Vogt. 124Hudson, M. Valerie & Leidl ,Patricia. Betrayed. Foreign Policy May 10, 2010. http://www.foreignpolic y.com/articles/2010/05/07/the_us_is _abandoning_afghanista n_s_women

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returned from helping to organi ze a project in eastern Afghanist an to aid disabled children.125 In addressing the condition of wo men in Afghanistan, Samira Hamidi, director of the Afghan Women's Network, stated, the insu rgents still kill children, they still put poison in the food of school girls, they throw acid in the face of school girls, and they burn schools. They still exist.126 Incidents such as this one are very commonplace through Afghanistan, which implies that the United States continue s to struggle an attempt to main tain control in Afghanistan. Consequently, U.S. policy makers have not delivered on the promis es they made to Afghanistan and mostly to the women in Afghanistan. Regardless of the increased violence ag ainst women, recently there have been ongoing efforts to secure a political deal with the Taliban in order to bring some level of security in Afghanistan. Al Jazeeras Robert Grenier argues that in attempt to negotiate with the Taliban, Karzais government has requested the Taliban to formally cut ties w ith al-Qaeda, to accept the elected Afghan government, and to agree to bargain in good faith.127 This statement indicates that the Karzai government is activel y attempting to negotiate with the Taliban. Additionally, these are assessments about the Taliban accepting the optimistic demands presented by the Karzai government are considered unrealistic by critics. One major negotiation factor, which the West is highly interested in, pertains to wo mens education. Recently, Minister of Education Farooq Wardak, who has actively worked to bring the Taliban to peace talks, noted the Taliban 57 125Cramer, Christopher. & Goodhand, Jonathan, Try Again, Fail Again, Fail Better? War, the State, and the Post Conflict Challenge in Afghanistan. December 16, 2002 p. 889 http://relooney.fatcow.com/SI_Expeditionary/Post Conflict Economic Development_28.pdf 126Khaleeli, Homa. Afghan Women Fear for the Future. The Guardian February 04, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lif eandstyle/2011/feb/04/afghan women fears for future 127Grenier, Robert. Jump start' to nowhere. Al Jazeera. January 09, 2012. http://www.aljazeera.com/category/person/robert l. grenier

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leadership is prepared to dr op its ban on girls schools.128 Further, the article includes a statement from Alex Strick Van Li nschoten, a leading analyst of the Taliban, who said that the attitude of the Taliban towards womens education has always been far more ambivalent than popularly understood.129 In an attempt to reach some level of peace in Afghanistan, statements basically indicating that the Taliban are probably not so bad are being issued. A major concern pertaining to the negotiations with the Taliban is that the fragile gains in womens rights that have been accomplished over th e last decade may be jeopardized. As Indira A.R. Lakshmanan notes, in addressing negotiations with the Taliban Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, a peace agreement excluding more than half of the population is no peace at all. Its a figment that will not last.130 While the West is adamant that any peace deal with the Taliban cannot exclude Afghan women, th eir actions are indicating ul terior motives. In other words, official statements regarding the Unite d States concern for wo mens rights are being issued; however, the United States is still willing to negotiate with the enemy that a decade ago were described as the savages popular for thei r harsh treatment and subjugation of women. In conclusion, it has to be noted that the situation of women in Afghanistan is a disastrous failure from every angle and that there is brisk hope. As shown in this chapter, womens rights were addressed in the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan, but very little improvement was accomplished. Additionally, the issue of the United States negotiating with the Taliban whom they are optimistically requesting to accept what the Taliban have been actively opposing for over a decade, shows that the Karzai government is becoming more 58 128Boone, Jon. Taliban ready to lift ban on girls schools, says minister. The Guardian January 13, 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/w orld/2011/jan/13/taliban lift ban girls schools 129Ibid.130Lakshmanan, Indira A.R. Clinton Opposes Any Afghan Peace That Shortchanges Women. Bloomberg March 21, 2012. http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012 03 21/clinton opposes any afghan peace that shortchanges women

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regressive. As Richard Weitz noted regarding the intentions of the Talib an it is possible they are simply professing to accept a compromise settlement in order to secure military withdrawal.131 In other words, the Taliban may simply show interest in compromising with the West in an effort to secure the Wests military withdrawal; once this occurs, the Taliban may retreat to the policies in place pr ior to 2001. Women in Afghanistan have been torn by decades of war, economic hardship, social unrest, and po litical chaos. In addition, as described by the West they have suffered from si x years of brutal and inhumane Taliban rule. The question then arises, why is the United States willing to negotiate with such a fundamentalist group? 59 131Weitz, Richard Global Insights: Negotiating With the Taliban World Politics Review February 14, 2012. http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/11467/global insights negotiating with the taliban

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CHAPTE R V CONCLUSION & POLICY RECOMMENDATIO NS PERTAINING TO WOMENS RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN The focus of this chapter is to provide opti ons for addressing women s rights issues in Afghanistan and policy recommendations to fulfil l this cause. This chapter references the arguments presented in chapter two, claiming that there is potential for compatibly between Islam and democracy. With this compatibility in place, this chapter first argues that as outlined in previous chapters, the central problem leading to womens right s issues in Afghanistan is the uniquely Afghan interpretation of Islam. In atte mpt to address this problem, the chapter argues that a reform movement focused on understandi ng the actual teachings of Islam must be initiated. Because the compatibil ity of democracy with principles of Islam and, in turn, Islams view on womens rights is a matter of interpreta tion, Afghanistan should accept a more moderate version of Islam in order to allow religion to serv e as a better alte rnative than the United States current policy toward achieving womens rights in Afghanistan. With the initiation of this program, an Islamic approach should be utilized in attempting to obtain equality and freedom for Afghan women. In other words, policy makers must use the actual teachings of Islam as a means of advocating and obtaining rights for women in Afghanistan. Specifically, this chapter argues that Islam offers greater potential than the Unite d States current policy with regard to treatment of women in Afghanistan not onl y because Islam is compatible with democracy and advocates for womens rights, but because Islam is the way of life in Afghanistan. Finally, this chapter discusses potential policy recommendations to assist in implementing a change in Afghan society 60

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through an Islam ic approach thereby furthering womens rights, using Muslim-majority states, Malaysia and Indonesia that offer inst ructive examples as a reference. As discussed in previous chapters, the cen tral problem surrounding womens rights issues in Afghanistan is the uniquely Afghan interpretations of Islam. To address this, it is important that the Afghan government establish programs throughout the country that advocate for the actual teachings of the religion a nd the various interpretations that exist in the Islamic world. A possibility for such programs would be to establish government-funded workshops throughout Afghanistan. These government-funded programs may be difficult to implem ent as the lack of authority from the central government is a hist orical problem in Afghanistan, which cannot be ignored. Indonesia & Malaysia The Muslim-majority states of Indonesia a nd Malaysia offer enlightening examples of creating a balance between Islam, democracy and, consequently, womens rights. Both Indonesia and Malaysia have managed to main tain their equilibrium between Islam and democracy and, in turn, womens rights in Afghanistan could potentially follow these models. As Joshua Kurlantzick notes, After decades of military dictatorship, and the threat of Islamism in the late 1990s, Indonesia is today ruled by a coalition that mi xes secular and moderate Islamic parties and protects minority rights.132 In an attempt to fully understand Indonesias current situation, it is important to understand how Indone sia has accomplished this balance, while many other Muslim countries such as Afghanistan conti nue to struggle. Specifi cally, three aspects of the Indonesian regime may be useful in attempting to understand its succe ss. First, Indonesian leaders have clearly emphasized th at the state of Indonesia does not have preference toward any 61 132Kurlantzick, Joshua. A Muslim Model: What Indonesia Can Teach the World. The Boston Globe September 13, 2009. http://www.cfr.org/indonesia/muslim model indonesia can teach world/p20199

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particular sector of Islam.133 This reinforces the fact that Indonesian leaders do not use Islam to legitimize their political status. In direct contrast, re ligion is required for political legitimacy in Afghanistan and has been consequently used by po litical leaders historically and by Karzai in present day Afghanistan. Sec ond, the Indonesian model embraces universal values of human rights, including the much contes ted civil and political rights, bot h on paper and in everyday life. While Afghanistan, unlike Indonesi a is a signatory to documents embracing womens rights, in actuality Karzais government does little to reinforce these commitments. Third, Indonesia has managed a radical decentralization policy to ensure more equitable relations between the central government and the different regions of the countr y. While, as discussed in previous chapters, there is no effective centralized government in Afghanistan, the relationships between Kabul and the other regions of the c ountry are fairly limited. In light of the aforementioned Indonesian model, Afghanistan may accomplish three similar rules. First, Afghanistan should attemp t to minimize the role of religion for political legitimacy. While religion has historically been used in this way and continues to be used in present day Afghanistan, it is im portant to understand that enforc ing polices to advance womens rights in Afghanistan will to some degree dema nd that the uniquely Af ghan interpretations of Islam be altered based on more universal understandings. Second, Afghanistan should actually begin acting on the policies it has committed itself to as a signatory and should begin maintaining compliance with the obligations asso ciated with these emancipatory documents. Third, the relationship of Afghanistans central government with rural Afghanistan is a major factor in understanding the obstacles to advancin g of womens rights in Afghanistan. Due to the lack of influence of the central government, addressing womens rights issues throughout the 62 133Ibid.

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entire country m ay be a complicated process. In addition to implementing the aforementioned policies based on the Indonesian model, Afghanistan should work on re lation-buildin g between the central government in Kabul and the rural areas throughout the country. This would be a step in the right direction for Afghani stan in attempt to address the womens rights issues present in the country. Additionally, Afghanistan may reference the Malaysian model of coexistence between Islam and democracy and Islams progressive view towards womens rights. In Malaysia, the Badawi-led coalition, which attempts to implement Hadhari a new progressive Islamic program aimed at obtaining general ethical principles th at the entire country must accept, has gained momentum.134 Malaysia has utilized Hadhari as a means to establishing a society based on humanitarian norms level of womens rights. Wh ile Malaysia allows several of its states to apply sharia to many issues of family law and other ci vil cases a system that can alienate nonMuslim minorities, undermining the principle that democracy protects mi nority rights, it still manages to maintain equilibrium between Isla m and democracy and, in turn, womens rights.135 The issue of womens rights in Malaysia is mainly addressed through the Sisters in Islam Movement, whose ultimate goal is to promote the development of Islam in Malaysia that upholds the principles of equa lity, justice and democracy.136 With this goal, Malaysia focuses on pursuing womens rights within Islam and within the framework of a country that is quickly modernizing and relatively democratic. The cases of Indonesia and Malaysia show th at Islam and democracy have potential for coexistence, provided the leaders of the country are willing to ta ke the necessary steps. The 63 134Schilling. 135Kurlantzick. 136Noor, Farish A., The Globalization of Islamic Discourse and its Impact in Malaysia and Beyond, Institute for Islamwissenschaft, Freie Universitat of Berlin, (20 November 2000). p. 13

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central problem in Afghanistan is that the norms of society are based on authoritarian and patriarchal codes, as opposed to the actual teachings of Islam. It is also important to address the concept of accountability that Islam understand s to exist among human beings and, in turn, between human beings and God. This relations hip of accountability essentially claims that human beings are accountable to one another because they are ultimat ely accountable to God.137 In order to measure the accountability among hu man beings and the accountability between human beings and God, it is necessary to understand how Islam ought to be understood, which leads to how the Quran is interpreted. As is evident from the arguments presented in previous chapters, while there are various interpretations of the Quran, Afghans have chosen, due to the patriarchal and tribal influences in Afghan societ y, not only a repressive version of Islam, but also a uniquely Afghan one based on these societ al influences. Therefore, it is difficult for Afghans who are pre-occupied with tribal and patriarchal influen ces to understand the logic of Islams view on women, as there are interpreta tions of Islam, unlike Afghan tribal norms, advances womens rights. The problem in the c ontext of Afghanistan is then the way Islam has historically been understood. Understanding the Quran In understanding the various interpretations of the Quran, it is important to follow the general rule that the meaning of words and phras es in Islam are contextsensitive and that in order to understand the actual m eaning of the teachings of the Quran, different approaches must be pursued. One approach is the linguistic stra tegy, which according to a recent report issued by PeachBuild of Canada, argues that words may ha ve more than one meaning and when one meaning has taken precedence over the rest. This leads to a situation where the meaning that 64 137Ahmed, Faiz. Sharia Custom, and Statutory Law: Comparing State Approaches to Islamic Jurisprudence, Tribal Autonomy, and Legal Development in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Global Jurist Vol. 7, No. 1, Article 5 p. 12

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has gained p recedence transforms to beco me the sole meaning of a given word. 138 Oftentimes in patriarchal and tribal societies such as Afghanist an, the sole meaning of any given word is one that is repressive and supportive of the advancements of tribal norms. In an attempt to alter this misconception, it is important to conduct a scholarly an alysis of the various meanings of a particular word and then determine a meaning to be accepted widely. Even still, there should be room for further scholarly anal ysis based on the situation an d circumstances under which the word is being used. The implication of this st rategy in advancing womens rights in Afghanistan is that the meaning of certain words that are us ed in a negative context to enforce repressive polices toward women should be re-examined and replaced by a more progressive interpretation of the word. 65 Another strategy to understand the various interpretations of the Quran that may be used is the historical strategy, whic h argues that the same word or phrase may have different meanings in different historical contexts.139 Therefore, it is important to understand Quranic verses in their relevant histori cal contexts. The report by PeaceB uild references the example of polygamy to analyze the historical strategy. Th e report states, On the surface, it seems that Quran has approved this practice. .under such circumstances, polygamy was a response to a social need.140 The implication of this strategy for a dvancing womens rights in Afghanistan is that certain aspects of the Quran must be analyzed in historical context. Because the same set of circumstances does not exist in the modern world, specifically, because civil institutions can provide protection for women and children that was previously required of men in society, polygamy is not only old-fashioned but also an unjustified occurrence. 138PeaceBuild.Islam and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in Afghanistan. Meeting Report. March 2008. http://www.readysetglobal.com/pdf/UNSCR% 201325%20and%20Islam% 20in%20Afghanistan.pdf139Ibid.140Peacebuild

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Current Situation in Afghanistan In analy zing the current situation of Afgha nistan most observers, both internal and external, agree that there has been some level of increased freedoms for people in Afghanistan, at least in comparison to the c ountrys repression under the Taliban. These observers agree that despite these freedoms, there has not been sign ificant improvement in Afghan womens rights since the 2001 U.S. invasion. Moreover, as discusse d in the previous chapte rs, the United States has failed to deliver on the promises it made in itially regarding women s rights. Karzais government is generally considered far less repressive of women than that of the Taliban; however, as discussed in chapter four, it has to be noted that th e treatment of women under the Karzai government varies considerably throughout the different regions of the country. In other words, even the minimal rights and freedoms that the women in the urban regions enjoy are not available to the vast populati on of women who live in the rural regions of Afghanistan. For example, opportunities in different fields, includi ng education, access to h ealth care and health information and employment are scarce in rura l regions in comparison to urban regions of Afghanistan. While these differences exist, all women in both urban and rural regions of Afghanistan are able to learn and understand Islam and the teachings of the religion in some capacity. For example, while the average woman in Kabul may have the opportunity to learn about Islam and its teachings by attending school and watching religious programs on television, the average woman in rural regions has a similar opportunity to learn about Islam and its teachings through the local mullahs Regardless of the difference in th e method of how religious knowledge is obtained, it can be argued that all women in Afghanistan have the opportunity to learn and understand Islam and its teachings. As discussed in previous chapters, most Afghans have an 66

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ultim ate respect for religion and conduct thei r daily lives in accordance with Islam. Consequently, a potential approach to achieve betterment of women rights throughout the country is to do so through the teachings of Islam. The central problem Afghanistan faces today is that while some surface-level programs have been initiated, no grassroots movements ha ve occurred for women. In the case of Afghanistan, the country faces a difficult situatio n that demands policy solutions. In order for these policy changes to occur, it is first necessary for small changes at local levels that lead to substantial transformation policies that are sust ainable at national levels. One recommendation for policy makers is to initiat e a program through the countrys ulema council dedicated to conveying the actual teachings of Islam independent of tribal and patriarchal influences. While differences exist across the regions of the country, the focal point of all the regions is Islam. Although the different regions of Afghanistan pr actice and understand so me aspects of Islam differently; generally, most Afghans have an ove rarching commitment to Islam. Therefore, reinforcing the role of Islam in an attempt to improve womens rights in Afghanistan is important. In doing so, one approach w ould be to increase the role of the ulema in reanalyzing the Quran, to separate Islam from the tribal in fluences and to accept a more moderate understanding of Islam when addr essing womens rights issues. In other words, engaging the ulema in the process of improving women's rights w ould have greater imp act than limiting the process to women's rights advocates. In an attempt to convey the correct message of Islam in Afghanistan, it is best to do so through the ulema Basically, as the report by PeaceBuild asserts, the Quran consists of Gods essential messages to human beings, which is tra ns-historical and trans-cultural. But to convey this message to human beings, God had to empl oy a language known to the immediate recipients 67

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of the revelation at the tim e, i.e., Arabic.141 The ulema as experts of the Quran and controllers of its interpretation, are in charge of conveying the knowledge of Islam to the general public. Additionally, the ulema as an independent class of religi ous individuals whose influence and authority stem from Islamic law, are highly va lued by all Muslims and by all of Afghanistans diverse ethnic groups.142 The ulema also assert that their interpretation of Islam is essentially the only legitimate interpretation that is accep ted and implemented. The role of the ulema is extremely important in attempting to bring about change in any capacity in Islamic countries and also in Afghanistan. However, the problem with Afghanistans current ulema council is that it consists mainly of Pashtun tribal leaders who are highly influenced by patriarchal and tribal norms. Therefore, the reform process must be initiated by encouraging more liberal, westerneducated Afghans into the ulema council. Additionally, a proce ss to reanalyze the actual teachings of Islam and incorporating those teachi ng into everyday life in the country must also be initiated. The role of the ulema in Afghan social life is ex tremely important as they are considered the custodians of Islamic law. However, the ulema are also influenced by the multiple layers of indigenous law in Afghanistan, and in most cases the ulema are well versed in both the teachings of Islam and the lo cal tribal laws. In this way, the ulema have the capability to balance the teachings of Islam and th e patriarchal culture of Afghanistan. Most importantly, the lack of central author ity in Afghanistan does not permit a top-down structure for implementing policies for advancemen t of womens rights. Time and time again, in many countries ground-up movements have succee ded. One example of such a case is the female genital mutilation in Egypt, which was debated on religious grounds, arguing that Islam 68 141Peacebuild. 142Nawid, Senzil, K. Religious Response to Social Change in Afghanistan 1919 1929: King Aman Allah and the Afghan Ulama (Mazda Publishers, 1999).

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dem anded circumcision. While bans on this pract ice from the central government have existed since the 1990s, the practice was widely common until the religious sector in Egypt became involved in this situation. Because religion is powerful in changing attitudes, involvement from religious scholars proved benefi cial in slowing the frequency of this practice. In 2007, a campaign to stop the practice was initiated and it has become one of the most powerful social movements in Egypt in decades, uniting an un likely alliance of government forces, official religious leaders and street-level activists.143 In addition to this movement, involvement from influential religious sectors further helped the ca use. For example, the Ministry of Religious Affairs also issued a booklet ex plaining why the practice is not cal led for in Islam; Egypt's Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, declared it haram, or prohibited by Islam.144 With these factors in place, the practice has become less and less common over the year s. As this example portrays, the role of religious scholars in implementing policy from the ground up is highly influential in Islamic societies. Similar to the case of female gent ile mutilation in Egypt, Afghanistan can utilize changes in other sectors of soci ety pertaining to womens rights in the same manner that Egypt has. As a result of the high level of Islamic influe nce in Afghanistan, it is clear that a secular approach would not succeed in the country. As outlined in chapter th ree, Afghan rulers who have attempted to advance wome ns rights at the cost of marg inalizing religious power have failed. Younus Qanooni, an Afghan Parliamentaria n, makes the argument that a secular model of governance in Islam, which excludes Islam, will not work in Afghanistan. Qanooni noted in an exclusive September 2005 interview that Afghans will never agree on any secular or liberal 69 143Stackman, Michael.Female circumcision focus of ferocious debate in Egypt. The New York Times September 19, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/world/africa/19iht egypt.5.7572375.html?pagewanted=all144Ibid.

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system Islam is the model system and Afghanistans future is tied with Islam.145 Qanooni makes the argument Afghanistans future cannot model a Western liberal democracy without the inclusion of Islam; however, it is possible to attempt to implem ent democracy through an Islamic approach and reach equilibrium between Islam and democracy. However, it has to be noted that the version of Islam desperately needed in Af ghanistan is not one in accordance with the repressive tribal version of the religion; rather, a more modera te version of Islam is required in Afghanistan. Utilizing an Islamic approach to advance womens rights in Afghanistan will be a long and complicated process. Fortunately, the s eeds for development in this field have already been sown. For example, Jamila Afghani runs N oor Educational Center ha s started some of the first gender training programs that train i mams individuals who lead prayer at mosques and guides or inspires the Muslim community, in Afghanistan utilize an Islamic perspective.146 Specifically, as Daisy Khan & Fazeela Siddi qui discussed the Imam Training Program, indicating that Through ITP, we tr ained 50 of the most respected imams in Jalalabad and Kabul on the five absolute rights pr ovided to women in Islam: Edu cation, Inheritance, Marriage, Property Ownership and Social Part icipation. We decided to train imams since Afghan communities deeply trust and respect them.147 While utilizing an Islamic approach to advance womens rights in Afghanistan wi ll be a long and complicated proce ss, it still offers more chance of success than any top-down, foreign-imposed process. 70 145Shahzad, Syed Saleem. Afghan Vote: No Future Without Islam, Says Qanooni September 20, 2005. Http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/Aki/English 146Afghani, Jamila. (2008). https://www.tanenbaum.org/pr ograms/ peace/peacemaker awardees/jamila afghani afghanistan 147Khan, Daisy. & Siddiqui Fazeela. Training Afghani Imams to End Violence Against Women. March 21, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daisy khan/afghanistan imams end violence a gainst muslim women_b_1287885.html

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As outlined in chapter f our, the most notable development in postTaliban Afghanistan has been the establishment of a Ministry of Womens Affairs, which for the most part has been ineffective in its attempts to improve womens rights in Afghanistan. While historically ineffective and highly influenced by the male -dominated Karzai government, MOWA should initiate the process of bringing about social change through the ulema In other words, MOWA should initiate conferences where the ulema present the actual interpretations of the Quran free from the Pashtun tribal influence, which oftentimes, favor womens rights and active participation of women in national and econom ic affairs. This would improve MOWAs legitimacy in Afghanistan, which would allow it to further its goals pertaining to womens rights. To some degree the 2004 minister of MOWA, Habiba Sorabi, attempted to initiate this process while she was in office. In an interview with feminist scholar Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Sorabi noted Islam is here to stay and women want rights within the Islamic framework. Sorabi continued that Islam gave women rights to edu cation and employment and that her Ministry was working within that framework.148 As stated previously there are some Mus lim-majority states that offer instructive examples of balancing Islam and democracy that Afghanistan can follow. In discussing the Malaysian model, one policy of th e Malaysian government that may be helpful in Afghanistan is the policy to pursue poverty eradic ation. As Markus Schillings argues, poverty and income disparities are considered as one of the main spurs for modern terrorism in many other Islamic parts of the world.149 In this context the author argues that the economic policy further reduces tensions between different groups in Malaysia. Similarly, in Afghanistan, a positive economic 71 148Ahmed Ghosh. p. 32. 149Schilling. p. 13

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72 development may lead to some level of secur ity throughout the country, which would allow for betterment of womens rights. In conclusion, the role of Islam in Afghanistan is highly significant, but at the same time it is a tribal and patriarchal version of Islam that causes the religion to be distorted in many ways. Though Islam itself does not seem to be one of the major reasons for the inability of Afghanistan to secure democracy and, in turn, womens rights, it illustrates how unique the Afghan interpretation of Islam is. Although it is unlik ely that Afghanistan wi ll adopt a version of democracy identical to any West ern counterpart; it is possible th at Afghanistan would take a form with specific characteristics that are determined by cultural va lues of the Afghan society. It is important to understand that utilizing an Islamic approach to advance womens rights in Afghanistan will be a long and complicated pr ocess, but that the policy recommendations presented in this thesis offers a greater ch ance of success than any top-down, foreign-imposed process.

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