Given that this blog is usually replete with angry denunciations (and rightly so), it would seem only fair to highlight this almost unbelievable show of solidarity and bravery taking place in Afghanistan during the past week. As most of you will know, the incumbent Afghan government originally dismissed the notion of legislating against the concept of rape within marriage, effectively suggesting that this alleged offence constitutes an oxymoron. Though in terms of intentionality, this must obviously be placed within the context of a regressive, brutalised and illiterate society, and it is possibly a product of a not exactly ignoble desire on the part of its new rulers to forge some degree of continuity with its religious fanatic-dominated recent politics (and thus limit the implications of yet further upheaval, especially in light of the recent resurgence and the events in the Swat Valley), clearly such a policy remains fucking disgusting by any civilised standards. That is one the reasons why the stand taken by protestors against the imposition of such a law is all the more remarkable, in a country which is by turns militarised and lawless according to gepgraphic location within its borders, and in which the response to their march was as predictably vicious as one might anticipate. This excerpt from The Times gives a good flavour of it:
‘As the protesters continued to chant slogans they were often drowned out by counter chants of Allahu akbar (God is greatest). “I am not afraid. Women have always been oppressed throughout history,” Zara, an 18-year-old student, told The Times as men in the crowd lunged forward and screamed abuse.’
In a climate of myriad hypocrisies and dreadlocked, privately-educated anthropology students fresh from their gap year joining protests at Cambridge’s Law Faculty in faux-outrage at the plight of the Palestinians (‘Oh, but Syria’s a wonderful place, though, totally misjudged’), more as a means of Trustafarian posturing than anything else, a display like this is almost silence-inducing in its profundity and courage. Of course I’m not directly comparing the two, before anybody suggests that I seek to mock ‘pinkos’ via glib reducto ad absurdum rhetoric. But these events are undeniably moving and a testament to the human spirit, which we usually see mostly in its most snarling form. The simple yet utterly moral, brave, just and conviction-based stance as articulated by these women struck me as especially poignant given that when I saw it highlighted in the Guardian a few days later, it was rather proximal to some vacuous Polly Toynbee wannabe (surely that’s like saying ‘when I grow up I want to be like Forrest Gump!’?) twittering on in that inimitable Guardian feature writer style about ‘My Big Fat Feminist Wedding,’ and her existential angst at seeing her militant, middle-class feminist comrades have a bit of a sneer at her expense for taking the plunge into that filthy centrepiece of the world of oppressive male chauvinism: the dreaded marital union (‘even though I was determined to split the task of arranging it 50/50 between myself and my boyfriend, refusing to bow down to the convention that the woman should organise it because she cares more’). Simper.