Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A White UK Feminist book review of Afghan Radical Feminist Malalai Joya's Autobiography, A Woman Among Warlords [including U.S., UK, and other NATO Warlords]

[image of book cover is from here]

What follows is cross posted from *here*.

Book Review: Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of the Afghan Woman Who Dares to Speak Out by Malalai Joya

Author: Natalie BennettPublished: May 23, 2010

When I was running for the Green Party in the recent British general election, there was one issue on which I had no doubt how audiences at hustings and meetings would react positively – our call to withdraw British (and NATO) troops from Afghanistan. Surveys show around 70% of the public back that stance, and it was close to 100% of the audiences at hustings.

As I told them, I’d had in the past some doubts about our party’s policy of immediate withdrawal, having been worried about the human rights situation that we’d leave behind, particularly for women. But it was a Human Rights Watch report last year, which found 60-80% of the marriages of Afghan women and girls are forced, and learning that the brave women of Rawa are calling for withdrawal that led me to change my mind.
Having just read the autobiography of Malalai Joya, an outstanding Afghan woman MP, I’m now even more strongly of that view. (It was published in the US as A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise her Voice.)

She’s an extraordinarily brave, stalwart – and very, very young! — woman who has dedicated her life, and taken enormous risks, to speak out on human rights in her native land. And she says very clearly – and loudly and publicly in her own land, which led to her being expelled from parliament – that the people the U.S. and its allies are backing in Afghanistan are entirely the wrong people, the old warlords, many of them in her eyes (and those of others) war criminals. And she has no doubt that this foreign occupation can only prolong and amplify her nation’s problems.

Her story is an extraordinary one. Certainly, she was lucky in her parents, particularly her father, a democracy activist who moved his family around Iran and Pakistan as an exile in search for good schooling for them. (He, like the rest of her family, can’t be identified for their own safety – the name ”Joya” is one she adopted to protect them.) There must be many other potential Malalai Joyas in Afghanistan who will never get that essential foundation or confidence.

But there’s no doubt she was exceptional. Noticed as a fine teacher in the refugee camps, at the age of 21 she was sent to found an underground girls’ school in Herat by the Organisation For Promoting Women’s Capabilities. Only three years later, she was appointed to head its work in three provinces, just before 9/11. Under the new regime, despite its resistance, on her account she set up a clinic, orphanage and was able to distribute food supplies.



Yes indeed Malalai Joya should be recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize. However, I am certain Malalai Joya's central aim is not about the Nobel Peace Prize but to have her country returned once more to its citizens instead of being continuously ruled by foreign white western male invaders.

Malalai Joya is very, very astute and she never, ever forgets that she is speaking on behalf of Afghan women, men and children and this is a rarity given most white western male leaders are only concerned with maintaining their power bases at all costs.

Yes Malalai was 'lucky' in having parents who gave her the grounding of activism but that alone is not the essence of Malalai Joya. It is Malalai Joya's fierce determination and refusal to be silenced by the innumerable death threats she receives daily.

Malalai Joya is a very, very brave woman who refuses to be silenced by the 'great and the good (sic) white western male leaders who have shown no interest whatsoever in Afghanistan's welfare but 100% interest in exploiting Afghan women, men and children.

If it were not for Malalai Joya's book and also not forgetting RAWA we in the west would continue to be hoodwinked into thinking Afghani women are meek, passive victims and that the burqua is the only pressing issue facing Afghan women. Not so, and Malalai Joya provides us with the evidence that Afghan women, men and children are not one dimensional stereotypes as claimed by our white western male masters! Meaning the white political male leaders.

Julian Real said...

It's something akin to horrifying to me, Jennifer, that, as you so well put it, were it not for Malalai Joya and the women of RAWA, we whites in the West might actually and only believe what our press tells us about Afghan women.

And for Malalai's voice to be heard and for her message to break through the walls of denial and propaganda of the West, she necessarily has to be so brave, so persistent, so amazingly and brilliantly uncompromising in her vision and values. And for that she is so threatened with death by the Taliban, Warlords of her region, and Warlords from our regions.

It's a sad state of affairs, and a glaring failure of the UK and US press (especially in the US) that this is so.

All my prayers are with her. She is a living marvel in the herstory of people fighting for human rights.

Thank you so much for your comments on this article, Jennifer.