Sunday, October 10, 2010
Laura Bush Says Afghanistan Must Embrace Women's Rights
On Friday I met with Bibi Aisha in California, where, thanks to the compassion of many individuals and organizations, she is receiving reconstructive surgery and beginning the long road of healing. The visible scars of her disfigurement will heal with time, but moving beyond the emotional and psychological trauma of her torturous mutilation may be more difficult.
Bibi Aisha's story and the prevalence of intimidation and violence against Afghan women raise important questions for those working to establish this young democracy. Will Afghanistan embrace and protect the rights of all people? Or will it be a nation that allows the oppression of women to continue unabated?
Yet serious challenges remain. A culture of fear still silences women. In many rural areas, those who dare to teach receive letters threatening not only their own lives but their children's as well. And though the Afghan constitution guarantees 25 percent of seats in parliament to female legislators, assassinations of prominent women have driven many from public life. Among those who remain, many are muted by fear.