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Malalai Joya speaks about women, violence in Afghanistan

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THE TUFTS DALLY, Oct 8, 2013

Malalai Joya in United states Kyra Sturgill / The Tufts Daily

Malalai Joya, Afghan activist and former member of the Afghan National Assembly, gave a presentation entitled “Prospects for Afghan Women and Non-Intervention in My Country” in Barnum Hall yesterday.

The event was part of an ongoing lecture tour called “A Woman Among Warlords,” co-sponsored by the United National Antiwar Coalition and the Afghan Women’s Mission. Joya will spend the month of October delivering this presentation in ten cities nationwide in recognition of the 12th anniversary of the United States’ invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

“I want to share with you the consequences of this vile, disgusting war,” Joya said. “It is changing our country into one of Mafia states and war crimes. Life is now tougher for millions of Afghans.”

Joya focused on the continuing violations of women’s rights in Afghanistan, a subject that she has explored regularly as an author and activist. She explained that amid the many horrors that Afghan women face — forced marriages, domestic violence, kidnappings and rape, ― 25 percent of Afghan women have endured some sort of sexual violence.

“Afghanistan is the worst place to be a woman in the world,” Joya said. “It’s at the top of the list of the most under-developed countries in the whole world.”

Much of this violence results from an absence of effective democracy, she said. Joya pointed to the corrupt national elections, such as the 2010 parliamentary election where certain inhabitant groups were pressured not to vote and multiple candidates were accused of fraudulent activities.

“The most fraudulent election in the world was in my country,” she said. “We have a saying, ‘It doesn’t matter who’s voting, it matters who’s counting.’”

Joya also argued that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s long-term military presence has been immensely counterproductive for the nation. According to Joya, over the past 12 years violence around the nation has been commonplace. The Taliban has managed to regain its footing and human rights abuses have continued at an obscene rate. Joya described this as a consequence of these occupying forces acting primarily in their own national interests, rather than for the benefit of the Afghan people.

“Right now, the United States and NATO only want a piece for themselves,” she said. “The people in the world should know that [they] are only there for their own strategic, political and military interests.”

She explained that this outcome was not unique to Afghanistan, as many nations worldwide such as Somalia, Indonesia and currently Syria, have been negatively impacted by the United States’ presence.

“U.S. interference has brought blackness, injustice and suffering to its people,” she said. “What we are experiencing in Syria right now is just heart-wrenching.”

Joya emphasized her view that the conflict in Afghanistan, which she described throughout her presentation as “the so-called war on terrorism,” would have to be brought to a swift end in order for the situation in Afghanistan to improve.

“I believe the only solution of this catastrophic situation for Afghanistan is the removal of all these troops as soon as possible,” she said. “They make it a much harder fight for justice and peace.”

Joya criticized the Obama administration for allowing the violence and conflict to endure and for his December 2009 decision to deploy 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, an action she believes is contrary to what the nation actually needs.

“Obama is as dangerous as Bush, if not more,” Joya said. “He expanded war. This system must be uprooted. Completely uprooted.”

Joya said she hoped the reality of the situation would be brought to international attention. She applauded Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning for their controversial decisions to release classified material regarding American intelligence, including the “Afghan War Log,” which detailed U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, to the public.

“I want to send dear Manning and Snowden my thanks for enlightening people around the world about the true dirty face of U.S. imperialism,” Joya said.

She concluded her presentation on an optimistic note, saying that it may well be possible to progressively develop Afghanistan in the years to come.

“It is not impossible to bring freedom and democracy to my country.” she said. “This is something we are working towards. One day, we will win.”