The invisible women of Afghanistan

Afghan women wearing burqas when going outside...
Afghan women wearing burqas when going outside in northern Afghanistan. Deutsch: Afghanische Burkaträgerinnen Français : Deux femmes afghanes portant la burqa Suomi: Afganistanilaisia naisia pukeutuneina burkaan 日本語: アフガニスタンの女性ブルカ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




See if you can get your mind around this:

Afghanistan’s parliament has rejected a law which would have offered a few tiny protections for women and girls against violence because –


One, “It is wrong that a woman and man cannot marry off their child until she is 16,” according to Obaidullah Barekzai, a member from southeast Uruzgan province. Female literacy rates are at rock bottom in Uruzgan.


And two, well women’s shelters are just “houses of prostitution and immorality” – this from Justice Minister Habibullah Ghaleb last year


Plus: those laws about punishing someone just for beating his wife are definitely un-Islamic – this from all those mullahs who know exactly what Allah has in mind.


The New York Times story on the above was illustrated by a photo of a man in a Kabul store, dressed in a tee shirt and colorful scarf, standing amidst racks of pale blue burqas. Burqas, shapeless head-to-toe coverings, also come in black, but perhaps that’s another store; they are requisite outdoor-wear for women in many areas. If you look closely at the Times photo there is an actual woman in the background; you can tell because her hands are visible. An even closer look reveals what seems to be another woman in another burqa, though it’s hard to tell; the idea of the burqa is to render the woman inside invisible.

Many of us think that the U.S., given the history of countries trying to intervene in Afghanistan, should never have tried to intervene in Afghanistan. Probably many more of us simply want the U.S. to get out.


But if you’re a woman in the U.S., holding the women of Afghanistan in your heart, it’s hard not to weep for them all – and to count your blessings.






Alcohol fee = 'cause for harm' money: A funding idea whose time has come

Image by Bright Meadow via Flickr

Booze, it seems, causes some people to do drunken things, get in trouble (i.e., do harm, at times), go off to the E.R., occasionally in an ambulance. So why not tax the booze to pay for the E.R. and ambulances? This is being proposed by San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos in one of a bunch of efforts to fill the gaping budget hole that this city, like virtually every city in the nation, is facing.

It is called a “cause for harm” fee. A fee, explains San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius, differs from a tax because it can only be spent for the specified purpose for which it was collected. We don’t like the word Tax these days.

No fair! say the bar and restaurant owners; five cents more per martini will kill the business! I doubt that. Having put in my time as a martini (among other things) drinker, I can absolutely certify that if you want a$6 cocktail you’re not going to pass it up at $6.05.

“Cause for harm” fees, in fact, seem like a pretty good idea:

  • Oil company digging fees (say, five cents a quart) for spills, etc.
  • Leaf-blower fees to mitigate noise, air and clogging-the-storm-drain pollution
  • A dead cell phone fee to ship dead cell phones to another planet if there’s one that wouldn’t really mind
  • Pigeon fees… well, just because

You can create your own list. Fees of this “cause for harm” type are collected in other states, though more often used to pay for things like treatment and education rather than transportation to the ER. In any event, they clearly make sense. And somehow the cause/effect principle seems like one that should pick up wider support.

Maybe Mr. Karzai could impose a few fees of his own, and use them to send all those troops back home.

Supervisor’s fee on alcohol a terrific idea.