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Canadian media shocked to discover Afghan women not liberated after all

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After more than seven years of giving scant coverage to the ongoing oppression of Afghan women, the Canadian media have finally had to admit that all is not as they have been telling us it is in occupied Afghanistan.

The immediate cause is the scandalous and reactionary law that President Hamid Karzai has signed off on that denies Shia women the right to refuse sex with their husbands and the right to leave the house without their husband's permission, among other outrages.

The Toronto Star reported that Harper has expressed 'deep concern' about the law to the Afghan government. Peter Mansbridge led with this story on The National last night on CBC. And this morning, host Bill Good on CKNW -- the most listened to news radio station in B.C. -- led off an hour of open phones with the remark that this latest news will certainly make many Canadians rethink the 'mission.'

As it happens, I was fortunate enough to be the first caller to get through. What I said to Mr. Good could apply just as well to Mansbridge and much of our mainstream media, excepting some honest reporters who are too far and few between on the Afghanistan file. Here's a rough summary of what I said to the CKNW host:

"This latest news is terrible, but many of us have been saying for years that this war has nothing to do with women's rights, and everything to do with U.S. and NATO geo-political considerations. We have pointed out that the Karzai government is full of warlords and fundamentalists. And while Harper has spoken out on this law, he said nothing when Afghan women's rights advocate Malalai Joya was expelled from the Parliament for her criticism of these fundamentalists. Frankly, the media has been ignoring the voices, like those of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), who have been saying for many years that this war has not liberated Afghan women..."

I could have added that it is well documented that rape and abduction of women goes on with absolute impunity throughout the country, and that rates of women's self-immolation are higher than ever. In fact, it's well known that there is no justice for women in Afghanistan.

So there you go -- a big 'we told you so' from all anti-war voices to the media in this country is very much in order. Let's hope that, with the war going so poorly and the misogynist nature of the government that NATO has been propping up becoming more evident, the media will look more seriously into the regime in Kabul and at the real condition of the women of Afghanistan.


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