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March 8th, 2009

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY:

A GRANNY ATTENDS A CODE PINK SPONSORED SCREENING OF A FILM ABOUT THE WOMEN OF AFGHANISTAN

Fahima Vorgetts put on a blue scarf. She said, “I felt warm earlier, so I took it off, but I”m putting it back on because it was given to me by the women of Afghanistan and I wear it to remind you for them, don’t forget about us: don’t go away and let what you have learned today fade into the every day coming and going of your lives.”

It was International Women’s Day and we had watched Kathleen Foster’s film “Afghan Women: A History of Struggle.” After watching this well-told history of the events affecting the legal, economic and social status of Afghan women over the past 35 or so years, the shame I felt over being a US citizen was overwhelming. I took out my camera, and after receiving a nod of permission from her, I captured this photo of a person who has spent her adulthood working for a better life for her sisters. You see the blue scarf.

2009_03_08fahima_vorgetts_sm.jpg

What it means to me today is that there are people in Afghanistan whose well being has been directly affected by the military interference of the U.S. through the CIA and now, overtly. They are not better off for our government’s military involvement. I learned in Foster’s film that the warlords now holding the reins of power under Karzai’s government in Afghanistan are the ones setting the tone for law and government. These guys are holding on to their turf, to their well-equipped militias, to their ways of currying popular support by espousing fundamentalism. They are not much different from the Taliban. They have definitely not liberated the women of Afghanistan.

In that country as you read this, women’s rights activists are being assassinated by representatives of the government which Karzai doesn’t really control. Women, men and children are constantly suffering violence. The weapons readily available and plentiful, supplied by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and others are easily bought by warlords who profit from trafficking in Opium.

U.S. military involvement will not help. U.S. aid goes 80 or 90 percent to US military contractors or local gatekeepers. Fahima Vorgetts says she is able to deliver a fine well with fresh water to a community through her organization Afghan Women’s Fund for $10,000, while a contractor will bid $27,000 or more for the same job.

So what does the blue scarf say to me? Keep working against military involvement in Afghanistan. Support organizations led by Afghan people which can build schools and dig wells. Have the courage to bring the shameful situation into bright light and discourage people from careers in the military.

Learn more about Fahima Vorgetts’ organization at www.womenforafghanwomen.org. See the film by contacting www.kathleenfoster.com.

- Caroline Chinlund, Granny Peace Brigade

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