Afghanistan

A Taliban fighter stands guard as two women enter the government passport office, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Afghanistan's Taliban leadership has ordered all Afghan women to wear the all-covering burqa in public. 

We hear Joe Biden pontificating a lot these days about women’s rights in the wake of the Supreme Court abortion case leak, but who is holding him accountable for the horrible fate befalling the women of Afghanistan? After all, their suffering is fully on him.

Only the foolhardy would have believed the stone-age crew of the Taliban would live up to their promises of protecting the rights of Afghan girls and women. Anybody with an ounce of connected brain cells knew they were playing the US for fools following Biden’s shameful Afghanistan retreat.

Despite their promises, the women of Afghanistan are cruelly having their rights swept away by the Taliban after making remarkable gains following the US invasion and the years afterward.

The same crew that the Biden administration — which was in such a hurry to leave it led to the wholly preventable death of 13 American service members and left behind $80 million in military equipment — tried to tell us was going to ensure the safety of Americans, is now crushing the women of Afghanistan under their repressive boot.

This past Saturday, the Taliban thugs decreed women were now once again forced to cover up from head to toe with only their eyes showing. Further, women are now only allowed to leave home “when necessary” and even then, cannot be unaccompanied. Male relatives could face punishment for a woman’s dress code violation, up to and including jail time.

The Taliban had already previously reneged on its promise of allowing Afghan girls to attend school beyond the sixth-grade. Just nine months after the US’ embarrassing withdrawal, nearly all gains made by Afghan women have evaporated.

With Taliban hardliner Hibaitullah Akhunzada now in control and calling the shots, expect to see more repression similar to what the last hardline regime visited upon women and girls during their previous reign of terror from 1996-2001.

Additionally, as reported by The Associated Press, men and women can only visit public parks on separate days. The Taliban, AP notes, has banned international media broadcasts including the Pashto and Persian BBC broadcasts, which are the two languages spoken in Afghanistan. Foreign dramas are also banned.

Reportedly, women have been banned from numerous occupations.

It is not inconceivable the current hardliners would seek to reinstitute the terrible punishments inflicted on women for disobeying their edicts. There was a reason so many Afghans pleaded for the US to stay or begged to come here. The fear was quite palpable and well-placed.

Women were frequently subjected to stoning for violating the harsh rules previously imposed upon them by the Taliban. They were also punished to cruel extremes on accusations alone, such as committing adultery and were often subjected to deadly punishments if they were the victims of rape.

It was a horrible life for women and girls.

However, Afghanistan’s women and girls freed themselves from the Dark Ages in the 20 years preceding Biden’s retreat. They attended school, secured and excelled in occupations of their choosing. They were able to drive, travel freely. A society that once treated them as less than second-class citizens in the most heinous manner possible, was now open to them.

Now, imagine having those freedoms stripped away and being forced into a life essentially of servitude and fear.

Sure, there are some women brave enough to defy the Taliban in public. Their bravery is to be admired, especially knowing the potential consequences. They need our prayers.

Their situation is quickly becoming dire and, unlike the wailing and moaning about women’s rights being threatened by the Supreme Court in the U.S., their rights are indeed being trampled.

I have read some pro-choice advocates preposterously comparing the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade as being akin to living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Such sentiments are so preposterous they do not deserve a response.

What can’t be denied is what is happening in Afghanistan, even if the Biden administration would prefer you not notice. It is not surprising the Afghan thugs would issue their decrees while the world’s attention is diverted in Ukraine.

Not to be discounted is that Biden’s demonstrated incompetence on the world stage, via Afghanistan, surely emboldened Putin to attack Ukraine. The Taliban thanks you once again Joe.

The list of Biden’s failures in a mere 17 months since becoming president is seemingly endless, but there may be no greater failure than the cruelty of his decision to abandon Afghan’s women to the sadistic whims of the Taliban.

Dave Ruthenberg is a multiple award-winning columnist and is Main Street Nashville’s opinion editor.

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