Even though headlines try to convince us otherwise, conflict or war is never simple. There is no simple answer to who is right and who is wrong, especially in conflict riddled Afghanistan. I know very little about the country’s history, therefore it was perhaps even more insightful to listen to this article called The Other Afghan Women, written by Anand Gopal. I never knew about those other women. Their stories probably didn’t make headlines, because those stories don’t confirm the Western storyline of being saviours and victors. I’m glad Gopal wrote their stories down for me and you to read.
The Taliban takeover has restored order to the conservative countryside while plunging the comparatively liberal streets of Kabul into fear and hopelessness. This reversal of fates brings to light the unspoken premise of the past two decades: if U.S. troops kept battling the Taliban in the countryside, then life in the cities could blossom. This may have been a sustainable project—the Taliban were unable to capture cities in the face of U.S. airpower. But was it just? Can the rights of one community depend, in perpetuity, on the deprivation of rights in another? In Sangin, whenever I brought up the question of gender, village women reacted with derision. “They are giving rights to Kabul women, and they are killing women here,” Pazaro said. “Is this justice?” Marzia, from Pan Killay, told me, “This is not ‘women’s rights’ when you are killing us, killing our brothers, killing our fathers.” Khalida, from a nearby village, said, “The Americans did not bring us any rights. They just came, fought, killed, and left.”