The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Afghanistan journalist faces death for questioning situation of women

Feb 18, 2008

Sayed Perwez Kambakhsh, a 23-year old journalist, was just condemned to death by a court in Balkh province, in northern Afghanistan.

Kambakhsh was tried in a closed court, without access to a lawyer, for the crime of downloading an article and giving it to his friends at the university. The article was considered “insulting to Islam and interpreting verses from the Koran in an erroneous manner.” Kambakhsh apparently pointed out that the Koran authorizes a man to marry several women but prohibits a woman from marrying several men. He was convicted of “blasphemy,” punishable by death according to the Islamic law called “Sharia.” Despite protests from international organizations, including journalists, the president of the Afghan Senate upheld the sentence of the court. A public prosecutor even threatened to arrest journalists who supported their colleague.

The Taliban regime, supposedly responsible for the desperate situation of women in Afghanistan, ended more than six years ago. But today, in the part of Afghanistan administered by the supposedly democratic regime of Hamid Karzai, supported by the U.S., conditions of life, particularly for women, are like those in the Middle Ages. Under the rule of the warlords, Afghan women and girls remain victims of the customs and religious laws that allow them to be murdered in crimes of “honor.” It’s is not just domestic violence they suffer. In addition, women are refused access to health care, education, justice, jobs and the right to move about freely.

There are 55,000 foreign soldiers, over half of them from the United States, engaged in Afghanistan, with the numbers increasing monthly. The daily problems of the population, and especially those of women, not only haven’t lessened. On the contrary, the assaults, the violent attacks and the permanent state of war in certain regions makes the poverty and backwardness of Afghan villagers even worse.

This is why an Afghan male, a journalist who dared to draw attention to this situation, faces the death penalty.