Land of the Unconquerable: The Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women

Land of the Unconquerable: The Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women

Land of the Unconquerable: The Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women

Land of the Unconquerable: The Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women

Synopsis

Reaching beyond sensational headlines, Land of the Unconquerable at last offers a three-dimensional portrait of Afghan women. In a series of wide-ranging, deeply reflective essays, accomplished scholars, humanitarian workers, politicians, and journalists--most with extended experience inside Afghanistan--examine the realities of life for women in both urban and rural settings. They address topics including food security, sex work, health, marriage, education, poetry, politics, prisoners, and community development. Eschewing stereotypes about the burqa, the contributors focus instead on women's empowerment and agency, and their struggles for peace and justice in the face of a brutal ongoing war. A fuller picture of Afghanistan's women past and present emerges, leading to social policy suggestions and pragmatic solutions for a peaceful future.

Excerpt

On October 7, 2001, the United States and its allies launched an assault against Afghanistan in retaliation for the attacks of 9/11 and removed the Taliban from power. The Sunni Islamist and Pashtun nationalist movement calling itself “students” or “seekers” had tyrannized most of the country, especially the women, since 1996.

The 2001 U.S.-led attack began another chapter in the three decades— and counting—of relentless fighting endured by the Afghan people, beginning in 1979 with the Soviet invasion. Across the ten-year Soviet war, more than 1 million Afghans were killed; 1.2 million Mujahedin, government soldiers, and noncombatants were disabled; and 3 million (mostly noncombatants) were maimed or wounded. Five million Afghans, onethird of the prewar population, fled to Pakistan and Iran. Another 2 million Afghans were displaced within the country.

The Mujahedin (who President Ronald Reagan labeled “freedom fighters”) had been armed and supported principally by the United States— with ideological and material support provided by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan—in order to fight (and win) a proxy war against the Soviet Union. As is well documented, a call—exploiting a militant, atypical version of Islam—for Muslim men around the world to join a jihad (holy war) against “godless communists,” led to what the primary author of this scheme, Carter-era national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, labeled “Islamic blowback.” Among those who joined the Central Intelligence Agency in its quest to win the Cold War by pitting one . . .

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