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Why Is the Feminist Majority Foundation Refusing to Abandon the Women and Girls of Afghanistan?

The Feminist Majority Foundation responds to a piece by Sonali Kolhatkar and Mariam Rawi.

The following is a response to the AlterNetarticle by Sonali Kolhatkar and Mariam Rawi's about the Feminist Majority Foundation's position on the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan by the president and a board member of the organization.

Afghanistan is in deplorable condition. There's no disputing that. Some feel that we should just walk away. We cannot endorse this position because the cost to women and girls would be too high, and the U.S. responsibility for the current failed state of affairs in Afghanistan is too heavy.

If the U.S. was to pull out of Afghanistan, the United States would be once again breaking its promise to the Afghan people, and the country would likely fall under Taliban control. 

Afghans, especially the women and girls, know something about the Taliban: their oppression and horrific human-rights abuses. We can never forget they stripped women and girls of all human rights -- the right to education, mobility, visibility, health care, employment ... the list goes on.

And more recently these terrorists have destroyed hundreds of girls schools, killed journalists, local women's leaders and killed women teachers in front of their students. They have filled water pistols with acid and disfigured the faces of young girls walking home from school. No wonder only 4 percent of Afghans would support the Taliban returning to power and 58 percent think they pose the biggest danger to the country (BBC/ABC poll, December 2008).

Since 1996, the Feminist Majority Foundation has been immersed in a campaign to support Afghan women and girls in their fight against the brutal oppression of the Taliban. Long before 9/11, we protested and helped stop Unocal's proposed gas and oil pipelines that would have provided the Taliban with millions of dollars in annual fees to support their reign of terror.

We joined Afghan women's groups and other concerned citizens, launched an awareness campaign, gathered and delivered hundreds of thousands of petitions. Together, we stopped the U.N. and the U.S. from recognizing the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan. 

To begin to understand the scope of the U.S.'s responsibility in Central Asia, we have to revisit the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union during the Cold War years. During the war against the Soviets, the CIA covertly supported mujahedeen fighters with billions in dollars, weapons and equipment. Some of those fighters later became known as the Taliban.

The U.S. also backed and funded vicious warlords who committed gross human rights abuses. A few of them are now members of the Afghan cabinet and parliament. 

Once the Soviet Union was defeated, President George H.W. Bush promised that the U.S. would help Afghans rebuild. Instead the U.S. walked away. 

Afghanistan erupted into a devastating civil war. The Taliban emerged "victorious" with help, it is believed, from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. 

During the period from the 1978 Soviet invasion through 2001, 5 million to 7 million Afghans fled the country of some 26 million. The Feminist Majority Foundation sent a team to Pakistan to interview those who were fleeing from the Taliban over the Afghan border. Afghans were the single largest refugee population in the world.

They told our team of the atrocities being committed. Refugee conditions and those within Afghanistan were abominable. The country was also suffering from a horrible drought. Some experts believed 1 million Afghans would starve to death.

Prior to 9/11, the Feminist Majority Foundation urged the increase of food allotments to the World Food Program for Afghans suffering from the Taliban and the drought. We also tried to get the Taliban listed as a terrorist organization -- to no avail. 

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