Tuesday, May 03, 2005

In Afghanistan, Girls Just Want to Have Fun Find Work

I Could Scream: Examining the plight of women under Islam
The partially clothed bodies of a woman and her two daughters were found on the side of a road near the capital of the northern Afghanistan province, Baghlan. There was a note attached to their chests calling them whores and warning other women not to work with non-governmental aid groups.

Dr. Abdul Khalil, a doctor in Pol-e-Khomri, 95 miles north of Kabul, said that the women had been sexually assaulted.

The desperately poor in this region of the world have few opportunities for employment or income. There are several micro-credit organizations which extend small loans to women who want to start their own businesses. Two of these NGOs, BRAC and Grameen, deserve to be supported.

BRAC, formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, moved into the northern province in Afghanistan in 2002 as some of the refugees who fled to Bangladesh began to return home when the Taliban were driven out of power. It was this group that the women probably worked for.

BRAC was founded in 1972 in Bangladesh. BRAC and Grameen have assisted women in rural areas, improved thousands of lives, and made formerly destitute families self-supporting. With micro-loans, women are able to keep up their small businesses without going into debt to usurers for capital or product. The rate of default on these loans is extremely low; the programs are structured so that women help one another, in addition to agreeing to a code of living for the duration of their involvement with the programs.
    BRAC's core approach and competency is the delivery of health, education, microfinance, and microenterprise services on a large scale to the rural poor, primarily women. BRAC decided to train local women to help deliver these services and organize local groups. As a result, BRAC's service delivery contributes to building local leadership and local organizations.
When the founder of the Grameen project was asked by the US Congressional Forum why more than 94% of their loans go to women he said,
    Women have plans for themselves, for their children, about their home, the meals. They have a Vision. A man wants to enjoy himself.
In other words, they have ambition and tenacity. What happened to the men, that all they have left is the violent, envious subjugation of women and children?

8 comments:

Papa Bear said...

It could be that the primary factor that keeps a Third World country poor is that the prevailing culture does not motivate men to work, make plans for the future, and undertake projects for the benefit of their descendents

Dymphna said...

You are precisely right, Papa Bear. de Tocqueville addressed this in Democracy in America when he noted the differences for men in initiative and productivity between the slave states and the free ones...the Southern choice -- large agrarian holdings underpinned by slave labor -- had profoundly harmful effects on the general population. The middle class was smaller, the rates of illiteracy higher, and the narrower choices of labor that were considered "honorable" all contributed to the greater poverty (and resulting fundamentalism) of the South.

I say that as a Southerner and it is a painful part of the past. But it is a past which the North still uses as though it were the present tense...even as industry, due to confiscatory taxes and unions, long moved south and left pockets of improverishment in the north...

At any rate, there are parallels here with Islam's choices. Not all work is honorable; thievery outside the clan is acceptable in some places (you can see that *very* plainly in the Koran), integrity exists in enclosed pockets.

Thus men are constrained in the work they may do and still avoid staining their 'honor.' Women, more concerned with furthering the existence of their children, are not so limited -- besides, they're so haram already, just by being female, they haven't much to lose with any occupation.

Which only adds to the men's impotent fury.

Annoy Mouse said...

Why is it, when it comes to women and punishment in Islam, there is always, in the end, a sexual assault. It seems evident that these sick perverts are looking for any reason, some not very logical, to violate women and the reasons given are only secondary. I imagine nobody will admit the kind of punishments met out to little boys, or goats for that matter.

Hopefully, what’s left of the radical “Hezb-e-Islami” organization will be receiving unexpected company from men in little green hats soon. This kind of intimidation can only be stopped when such perpetrators are swiftly dispatched where they can be judged by their creator.

It would appear that women are collateral damage in Islam’s war against civilization.

Taliban: “In our culture, we like abusing women”.
“We also like harboring terrorists”.
“If you invade us, we will kill our women”.
---
“in addition to agreeing to a code of living for the duration of their involvement with the programs.”

I’d be curious what the “code of living” was.

Dymphna said...

I'll see if I can find it. Think of the Boy Scout rules, only for poor women...

Dymphna said...

Annoy Mouse, here are the 16 Decisions each borrower signs on for...notice that the behavior is focused on the individual and the village. One person by himself doesn't take out a loan; many people have to be involved in order to initiate a first-order change.

The 16 decisions of Grameen Bank

1.We shall follow and advance the four principles of Grameen Bank --- Discipline, Unity, Courage and Hard work – in all walks of our lives.
2.Prosperity we shall bring to our families.
3.We shall not live in dilapidated houses. We shall repair our houses and work towards constructing new houses at the earliest.
4.We shall grow vegetables all the year round. We shall eat plenty of them and sell the surplus.
5.During the plantation seasons, we shall plant as many seedlings as possible.
6.We shall plan to keep our families small. We shall minimize our expenditures. We shall look after our health.
7.We shall educate our children and ensure that they can earn to pay for their education.
8.We shall always keep our children and the environment clean.
9.We shall build and use pit-latrines.
10.We shall drink water from tubewells. If it is not available, we shall boil water or use alum.
11.We shall not take any dowry at our sons' weddings, neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage.
12.We shall not inflict any injustice on anyone, neither shall we allow anyone to do so.
13.We shall collectively undertake bigger investments for higher incomes.
14.We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
15.If we come to know of any breach of discipline in any centre, we shall all go there and help restore discipline.
16.We shall take part in all social activities collectively.

Annoy Mouse said...

Seems like a credo for sustainable living.

"11.We shall not take any dowry at our sons' weddings, neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry.

-We shall not practice child marriage.-"

Well there it is. The pederasts must be seething.

Brian H said...

"Pederasts" would naturally include Mohammed (pbuh)(HAH!) and all who worship and emulate him. If suddenly all Islamic males over the age of 4 were to die mysteriously, the world would lose little and gain much. Inshallah!

Dymphna said...

I don't think we want to lose that much of the gene pool. It's what marauders did for centuries and now we have this mess.

Besides, if we can have some influence on those little kids, things change...