How are women Treated in Afganistan?

During his times in Afghanistan, Mark Ritchie came to love this fascinating, volatile nation so different from his own. His experiences both as a child and an adult give a glimpse into this mysterious and often misunderstood land. Below are just several of his reminiscences in God in the Pits: the Enron-Jihad Edition on how women are treated in Afghanistan (past and present day).

Islam and Position of Women

As we drove to the hospital I saw two young women without veils making their way through the crowds, and I realized I had never seen an Afghan woman's face. The Afghanistan of my childhood was characterized more by stability than by anything else. The Islamic world might tolerate a few slight alterations, but not drastic changes. A clash with their faith could turn these peace-loving people into the fiercest of ideologues. There is no record of any citizen holding any faith other than Islam-for very long, anyway. In the fifties, an Afghan student had become a convert to Christianity while studying in the United States. Upon his return, he spoke of his faith and was killed within twenty-four hours.

Women, Christians and Change in Afghanistan

The country that never changed was about to. The family that ruled for centuries had been violently overthrown, but the worst was still to come. It would be another year before the Russian invasion would teach Jimmy Carter more about Soviet intentions in a week than he had been able to learn in a year of high-visibility talks. The Soviets had always been here though, and their intentions were common knowledge to the average schoolboy with eyes. We used to ride our bikes out to the enormous Russian grain silo, a joke that sat empty for twenty years. We laughed at the thought that Afghan agriculture could ever produce enough grain to fill it.

Not to be outdone by Russian "generosity," the United States brought in sacks of grain for the poor. But because, in this country, that meant everybody, the grain was sold in the bazaar. It is doubtful that anyone knew what happened to the proceeds. The Russian silo I remember being empty as a child was now full of grain to feed Soviet troops.

Excerpt from God in the Pits, The Enron-Jihad Edition, by Mark Andrew Ritchie
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