Many of you have no doubt seen the very disturbing image on the cover of this week's Time Magazine. As a supporter of MADRE you may remember Bebe, the woman on the cover (where she's called Aisha). We wrote about her in May when we activated MADRE's Afghan Women's Survival Fund to raise support for her to receive emergency shelter. At the time, we made a decision not to post photos of Bebe because we were concerned that these brutal images could be used to sensationalize her ordeal and turn her into an Internet spectacle.
For those of us who have been working to support Bebe and the many other Afghan women who are standing up for their rights, there is something even more disturbing than the photo on the cover of Time. And that is the fact that this type of violence against women is commonplace in Afghanistan.
Time Magazine makes the assumption that US troops in Afghanistan can and will improve prospects for women there. Our friend Lucinda Marshall of the Feminist Peace Network rejects that claim quite forcefully. Here at MADRE, we took a position opposing Obama's December 2009 decision to increase the number of US forces in Afghanistan precisely because we've seen so few indications that the human rights crisis of Afghan women is abating. Bebe after all, was attacked in 2009--eight years after Afghanistan was "liberated" by the US/NATO war.
It's clear that this war needs to end. The question is how to end the war in a way that safeguards human rights for all Afghans--in particular for women, who are most at risk. As the Afghan women's movement hammers out its demands and proposed solutions for a settlement, MADRE will continue to support women like Bebe whose lives are hanging in the balance.