The hypocrisy of Western leftists is becoming a little too much to bear with regards to women’s rights and the Middle East.
Most left-wingers and Democrats today would hold that going to war in the Middle East was a mistake, a destructive act started by Bush, and even a hindrance on the lives of Muslims. Simultaneously, most leftists would say women’s rights are important to them, if not a top priority issue. As an individual who believes in feminine empowerment while acknowledging the reality of foreign affairs, I cannot help but notice a disconnect. Alleged infringements on women’s rights in the United States are exaggerated, while the violent struggles of women in the Middle East are largely ignored by the same people.
CNN recently did a story on the Sun Brigade, an all-female unit of the Kurdish forces, who are fighting back against ISIS since they stormed Sinjar (the Iraqi province of the Yazidi minority that formed the Sun Brigade), killed hundreds of people, and sold women and children into slavery. The narrative is inspiring, describing how a band of female musicians laid down their instruments and took up arms to protect their fellow women. A member of the Sun Brigade proclaims, “We are Yazidi. We are women. And we will destroy you or anyone who touches our women and dirties our lands.” This rallying call should have been an international moment of female empowerment, yet the story goes largely unnoticed.
Even more recently, the Taliban in Afghanistan conducted a purging of women leaders in the province of Kunduz. In this area, women were finally gaining some ground by leading an all-girls high school and establishing shelter for female victims of domestic violence (described by Taliban commanders as “immoral”). The Taliban responded by burning buildings, looting offices, and smashing belongings, followed up by threats communicated to the women leaders who were able to escape. Abdul Wali Raghi, commander of the Taliban, had a less than pleasant message for Hassina Harwari, the woman who ran the shelter: “Hassina Harwari herself is an immoral slut and if we had captured her, she would be hanged in the main circle in Kunduz city.”
It sounds like women’s problems in United States are arguably minuscule compared to the literal violence women face in the Middle East. So where are the feminists in America when we need them to speak up on these issues? Where is the international community when vulnerable women need them most, and what will be done in the future?
Women’s rights activists need to rethink their pacifist stance. While protests, social media campaigns, and rallies make headway in the West, these actions only end in death in the Middle East. International intervention is needed, and a few UN peacekeepers are not going to be enough. Sometimes, war is necessary, even moral, if it means eradicating oppressive, violent forces and protecting targeted and vulnerable groups.