The EU commissioned a film on the Afghan women who’ve been jailed for “moral crimes”. For the safety of these victims, who count for half of the female inmates of the nation’s jails, it’s been withdrawn. Who are these “criminals”? They’ll include the women who’ve been charged with adultery, and, in many cases, subjected to the abuse of Afghan “vice and virtue” police. “Virginity tests” are common. It’s foul enough, of course, that these men feel it’s their business to enforce the chastity of women but there’s also a sick irony to their practices. In their supposed attempts to maintain the purity of someone’s mind and body they’ll forcibly strip them and investigate their genitals. That does bear the features of spiritual corruption – but not on the part of the accused.

According to the BBC (h/t), other “criminals” would have been charged with “nothing more than running away from forced marriages or violent husbands”. There’s a grim irony to this as well. It’s disgusting that these poor souls are found “guilty” of such brave, spirited and – and it breaks my heart that this isn’t taken for granted – understandable deeds. Still, their imprisonment isn’t very different to that of all the women who are still trapped in the predicaments they’d tried to escape. They’ve just moved from one form of imprisonment to another. That’s what’s really horrifying: just how much of the entire culture is devoted to imprisoning women.


Sorry to inflict this one-two punch of human evil on you, but I thought I’d mention some more news from Afghanistan, where Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, who led a “kill team” that butchered Afghan civilians and mutilated their corpses, has been convicted of murder. I’m glad justice has been done. On the other hand, I wish that I could say the same for the boys who were found massacred in Kunar, or the men and women shot down in Gardez, or the other victims of mysterious killings that NATO chose to cover with what might be termed “the fog of war”. Perhaps they’ll be remembered once its too late for meaningful lessons to be drawn.

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