Monday, March 08, 2010

March 8 is International Working Women's Day

What don't you see on these stamps from the early years of the (Soviet-backed) Democratic Republic of Afghanistan? The top stamp celebrates the International Year of the Child, 1979. The bottom, celebrates Mother's Day in the Revolution from 1980. What's missing? The burqa!

Yes, the full-body covering for Afghan women, face concealed behind a mesh mask, so condemned by Western feminists, was not the fashion under Afghanistan's progressive secular government in the years of, and before, the so-called Soviet invasion. Women worked, served in government, served in the armed forces, went to school, and didn't wear the burqa. You may thank the Western-backed Mujahedeen, and its primary backers Ronald Reagan, George Bush I and Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban for the burqa.

With respect to all the well-intentioned do-gooders on the coattails of the continuing US invasion of Afghanistan trying to undo some of the Taliban's oppressive anti-women policies, one wonders what the state of Afghan women might be had not the superpowers and regional powers decided to spend the last thirty years mucking Afghanistan up.


  1. Ironically, socialists weren't happy with the soviets invading:

    Or at least that's what Neale says. Who was the head of Afghanistan before the whole soviet affair?

  2. Ironically, the socialists weren't happy with the soviets invading;

    Well, according to Neale anyway.

  3. I'm no Afghanistan scholar, but my impression is that the secular, corrupt, but stable, monarchy was overthrown by secular republicans who proved to be fairly corrupt themselves. Calling the "Saur Revolution" which overthrew the republic much more than a coup would be a stretch but the Afghan communist movement seems to have been well integrated into the military and professional classes. I call the series of Afghan communist governments progressive in a sense because of their secular political and social commitments. The Soviets were "invited in" after the religious elements in Afghan society rebelled against the PDPA government (funded by the US & Saudi Arabia). The first Afghan communist leader Nur Mohammad Taraki was actually assassinated in a factional coup that laid the groundwork for the Soviets seizing the reins. It's usually implied that the Russians overthrew the republic and invaded which is not exactly the truth.

    As I remember from the time, only pro-Soviet parties and the Sparts defended the PDPA against the mujahedeen. In retrospect, of course the Afghan communists were heavy-handed and dictatorial and the rebellion they provoked was probably impossible to avoid.

    Anyway my bottom line here is not to glorify the Afghan communists-- I'm sure a leftwing critique of them is deserved--but by way of a reminder that the conservative anti-woman policies of future Afghan governments came from the allies of the "West" not its enemies.

  4. hm, didn't know that. Thank you for the explanation and sorry about my double post.

    But wasn't contradictory for the soviets to support a U.S. backed government?

  5. My parenthetical comment might be in the wrong place, Jenny. The US and Saudia Arabia were funding the mujahedeeen not the PDPA government.