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November 15, 2006

More Afghan women dying by self-immolation

Increasing numbers of Afghan women are dying by setting themselves on fire, according to reports by NGOs. This year, thirty-six cases of self-immolation have been reported in Kabul alone. [BBC]

The answer is not military conflict in Afghanistan. The answer is taking gender-based oppression into account in refuge claims. We could "rescue" every oppressed Afghan woman who wants asylum by simply opening our doors to all female refugees from Afghanistan, and any other regime that doesn't afford full civil rights to women.

The message to patriarchal regimes: Keep this up, and we'll take all your women and children. Heck, if you don't knock off this tinpot dictator shit, we'll take all your scientists, all your engineers, all your doctors, and all your journalists--regardless of gender! Our gain, your loss.

That would be a far more radical (and humiliating) foreign policy than waging conventional warfare against religious and political extremists who deny basic human rights to women. Forget the bombing campaigns and the torture. Just tell women and their children that they're welcome to free lives of opportunity in a real democracy.

I bet the cost of integrating every would-be Afghan refugee and her dependent children into our society would be less than a single major military offensive against the Taliban.

If you don't like the veil, think about who the world's huddled masses really are.

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Comments

I hope it ain't up to Rudy Rudy Rudy to decide if oppressed Afghan women deserve asylum. His track record in this department is less than exemplary.

That would be like asking Rudy if it's wrong for the police to shoot you while you're reaching for your ID. D'uh. If you don't look spiffy enough for the cops to assume you're reaching for a license rather than a gun, you don't deserve asylum in the lobby of your own building. Bernie Kerik told me.

This is horrible -- it was first reported a year or so ago by the NYT's Carlotta Gall, after the editor's ignored the story for months!

fyi, Gall's reporting and others' including Dana Priest and the late Anna Politkovskaya are profiled in next week's PBS documentary, Democracy on Deadline (my review w/ QT clips here)

I remain baffled that the US doesn't want to be a shining beacon of hope and freedom to the rest of the world. We don't want people to want to come here to live and work? What's the fear?

No person is free while his mind is chained by religious dogma.

Islam is merely the heaviest of the chains.

"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." --- Diderot

I love this. From your mouth to Speaker Pelosi's ears.

strange idea. once the us takes in millions and millions of oppressed women in addition to the millions and millions of oppressed women already in the usa, where would these millions and millions get husbands? you can be sure they will want one. perhaps they could join other formerly oppressed women in america's burgeoning sex industry as actresses and prostitutes. you can be sure good jobs will be denied to them for lack of education. as for the scientists etc., they can't get in the country now and would be subject to the vagaries of the patriot act.

"where would these millions and millions get husbands? "

If they are currently killing themselves, isn't it reasonable to assume that a country that is short on men, but free, would be an improvement over a country with a lot of men who brutalize them? Which is more important, freedom from fear, or husbands?

"you can be sure good jobs will be denied to them for lack of education"

We've seen many desperate immigrant groups arrive in America and dazzle the country with their entreprenurial energy. The Vietnamese would be a good example. Refugees from Cuba, circa 1959, would be another. My grandparents (all 4 of them) came to this country right after WW I and they all did extremely well. With each wave of immigrants, it seems difficult to imagine how the American economy will absorb them, but it always does. The immigrants help grow the economy.

where would these millions and millions get husbands? you can be sure they will want one. perhaps they could join other formerly oppressed women in america's burgeoning sex industry as actresses and prostitutes

Flippant response: they're Muslims. One husband between four.

Almost entirely serious response: I really think that in a modern nation there are more life choices for women than "housewife", "hooker" and "porn star". Also, what Lawrence Krubner said. So they're uneducated - they can learn.

Braindrain can also work against reform, because it leaves nothing but conservatives in place, along with those who cannot get away. E.g. see The Deep South.

While I'll wager many if not most women there would welcome the opportunity, it's a mistake to assume there are no women living under Islamic oppression who don't fully buy into it, if for no other reason than what we'd regard as collective Stockholm Syndrome. Not to mention the tradition of women determined to "straighten out bad boys" goes back to time immemorial. Of course, watching the "logic" of the Muslim mob, their response would likely be to slaughter all the females first to "Teach the Infidels That They Cannot Humilitate The Noble Muslim
Man"!

Lawrence Krubner: We've seen many desperate immigrant groups arrive in America and dazzle the country with their entreprenurial energy. The Vietnamese would be a good example.

Cambodians are another good example, though not for the point you're making. Most of them remain in poor immigrant ghettoes--that is, until they fall afoul of the INS, in which case they're promptly deported for lack of citizenship papers. Laotians haven't integrated well, either.

And that's just Indochina. Are we willing to bet that these prospective immigrants will thrive like the Vietnamese have?

Krubner: If they are currently killing themselves, isn't it reasonable to assume that a country that is short on men, but free, would be an improvement over a country with a lot of men who brutalize them?

Definitely. Yet having seen that first improvement they'll naturally want further improvements, e.g. finding a husband. Hierarchy of needs and all that.

Sorry for the multiple posts. I should have said "rising expectations," or "relative deprivation," instead of "hierarchy of needs."

Best. Foreign. Policy. Idea. Ever.

"Just come down to the American Embassy or Consulate; or if you're in Iran, to the (British? Canadian?) Embassy or Consulate, and we'll give you a refugee visa to America, along with an airline ticket. No passport will be required; all that will be done is a routine screening by female security guards. After you get to America, if you don't know English and you don't have family in the country, we will help you get housing, English lessons, and job training."

And yes, many of the women'll want to get married after a few years. But considering how before the advent of modern medicine a country's male population could be decimated by a really bad war, that isn't so unusual. Anyways, I'd feel more comfortable in a country with "surplus women" rather than "surplus men".

"Braindrain can also work against reform, because it leaves nothing but conservatives in place, along with those who cannot get away. E.g. see The Deep South."

I live in the South. I live in Virginia. I'm one of the citizens who, in some very small way, helped defeat George Allen. I'm commited to progressive politics. There are clearly more progressives in the South than 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even 20 years ago. The brain drain out of the South has mostly stopped. There are some wonderful tech centers in the South, such as the Triangle region of North Carolina, and these are also centers of liberal politics, islands of blue in the sea of red. I would trace these changes back to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and, more generally, the civil rights movement, which forced the South to join the civilized world. Reform lead to the end of the brain drain, not the other way around.

How to bring about such reform in Afghanistan? I don't know, but I thought Lindsay suggested a good start:

"The answer is not military conflict in Afghanistan. The answer is taking gender-based oppression into account in refuge claims. We could "rescue" every oppressed Afghan woman who wants asylum by simply opening our doors to all female refugees from Afghanistan, and any other regime that doesn't afford full civil rights to women."

"But considering how before the advent of modern medicine a country's male population could be decimated by a really bad war, that isn't so unusual."

Actually, America used to be that rare nation that had more men than women, because our population was heavy with immigrants and the immigrants were overwhelmingly men. It's only in the last 40 years that immigration to this country has become roughly gender even.

"The message to patriarchal regimes: Keep this up, and we'll take all your women and children. Heck, if you don't knock off this tinpot dictator shit, we'll take all your scientists, all your engineers, all your doctors, and all your journalists--regardless of gender! Our gain, your loss."

Quite so! I like your idea, as it is in our best tradition of embracing those seeking freedom from oppression. However, I would not employ it instead of force...I think that should be our policy ALL the time - conflict or no.

"Braindrain can also work against reform, because it leaves nothing but conservatives in place, along with those who cannot get away. E.g. see The Deep South"

This statement right here is the basic crux of why liberals continue to lose in areas outside of the coastline - everyone who even remotely disagrees with us in any way is stupid.

When was the last time you actually tried to persuade someone you disagreed with, you know, actually using facts and logic?

As for the heart of the post itself, I would employ this in addition to force, when required. Remember, it's hard for women to actually seek refugee status if they're chained to a building. Someone has to break those chains first.

Well, I don't know about taking all their journalists. Think I'd draw the line there. We need more folks with critical-thinking skills, not those who are only good at stringing cliches together like pearls on a string.

Hmmm, and where would the money come from to educate, feed, clothe, house all these women and children coming from a country where illiteracy is something like 50%? Sorry, I think this idea falls apart after thinking about it for even a short while. The costs would be enormous. More fatherless families is a good thing? And what of the women left behind, where their fortune would be even bleaker? Not really liking that idea at all. Sorry, we have way enough immigration issues already, we don't need to add to it this way.

This conservative, for one, likes the cut of your jib. :)

Miss Kelly, 50% would be a vast improvement...things are getting better, in the education and literacy areas, but they have a long way to go to get to 50%. When I left in the Spring of 2005, it was more like 22%...

"That would be a far more radical (and humiliating) foreign policy than waging conventional warfare against religious and political extremists who deny basic human rights to women."

Absolutely.

But wouldn't it create more recruits for al Qaida?

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