Didn't want you to miss this by friend and colleague Olivia Ward in yesterday's Star.
It's about how women may be thrown under the bus if NATO types, ie. the US, decide to get out of Afghanistan by reinstating the Taliban.
Yeah, I know that's not how it's being phrased in polite circles. But let's not mince words here, okay? Because that's what they would really do. After all, didn't we install our man in Afghanistan Hamid Kharzai? Of course we did.
That said, the latest word from HellHolistan is that the Taliban isn't going to deal.
But that doesn't make the plain fact of how quickly NATO was prepared to give up women.
GENEVA (Reuters) - Any future peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban should include a clear commitment to respecting women's rights, a United Nations women's rights body said on Friday.
It also voiced regret at what it called the exclusion of Afghan women from the high decision-making level of the London conference on Afghanistan last week.
Anyway, to Olivia's piece:
Even now, young girls who dare to go to school have acid thrown in their faces, suicide bombers kill indiscriminately, beheadings and amputations await those who resist their resurgent rule and women activists receive dreaded "night letters" that mark them for death.
So it's not surprising that the rising chorus of Western voices in favour of reintegrating mid- and lower-level Taliban fighters into Afghan society – and whispers of reconciliation with top militants – have sent a shudder through liberal Afghans who long for peace, but have grave doubts about the return of a relentlessly repressive enemy.
"If you bring them back, it will push us back," says Homa Sabri, who heads the Afghan division of the United Nations women's fund UNICEF. "We will lose the gains of the past eight years."
With the Western leaders who supported the 2001 invasion now groping for the exit, thinking the unthinkable is creeping onto the agenda. War cannot rage forever, and, at the end of the day, peace is made with enemies.
GIRLS, BARRED from school under the Taliban, now account for more than one-third of the 6.2 million children enrolled and female literacy rates have risen from single digits to about 13 per cent.
In employment, women have made gains in the civil service, and 75 per cent of the Women's Affairs Ministry is female. Women are no longer officially barred from the workplace, and numerous micro projects have allowed them to start small businesses.
In health care, soaring infant mortality has declined modestly and the percentage of women getting pre-natal care risen to more than 32 per cent.The government also set up a human rights commission where women can complain if they suffer violence or other abuses.
Women have joined numerous community groups across the country for social and economic support, as well as political action. The constitution reserves 25 per cent of seats in the lower house and 17 per cent of the upper house of parliament for women.
But today's Afghanistan is not a golden age for women. The Taliban's primitive interpretations of religious law, and the tribal culture from which they sprang, cast a dark shadow over their lives, and the ideals of the constitution are sparsely enforced outside of Kabul.
A recent law has undermined Shia women's rights, a warning to others that political expediency can trump their promised equality, and an unsettling hint for the future. Under international pressure, Karzai allowed the law to be amended. But doubts remain about how far the West would be prepared to support women's rights once its troops have departed.
Even now, the Western military presence has done little to improve the lot of women, and some argue that it has worsened it by exposing them to bombs and bullets.
In addition, a Human Rights Watch report found that, more than eight years after the fall of the Taliban, women and girls are still targeted for violence and discrimination, and have little access to either justice or education.
At least half of Afghan women experience violence, it found. More than half of marriages are of girls under 16 and up to 80 per cent take place without the bride's consent.
Hundreds of girls' schools have been destroyed by the resurgent Taliban, and hundreds of schoolgirls wounded or killed. Only 11 per cent of secondary school-aged girls are still attending school. A mere 4 per cent make it to Grade 10.
Meanwhile, women in public life suffer threats, intimidation and assassination attempts — or death. Women who want to work outside the home face threats and discrimination. There are numerous reports of despairing women attempting suicide by setting themselves on fire.
"The situation for Afghan women and girls is dire and could deteriorate," warns Reid. "It's critical to make sure that (their) rights don't just get lip service while being pushed to the bottom of the list by the government and donors."
When the fog of war clears in Afghanistan, women and progressive thinkers hope that they will have a place to stand. But they know much depends on what the peacetime landscape will look like, and what tradeoffs are made to arrive there.
Women have always been a commodity.