May 7, 2006


Afghan women start businesses, help reconstruct a torn nation: Some 10,000 women have been trained as entrepreneurs, some of whom are now economically self-sufficient (David Montero, 5/08/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

The ambitions of [Pashtun] Begum, once considered rare for women in Afghanistan, highlight a silent but powerful revolution here. A growing number of female entrepreneurs - some 10,000 have been trained - are emerging from the isolation of war and oppression of the Taliban to contribute toward a more prosperous nation and greater independence for women, observers say.

According to Microfinance Times, 75 percent of all active microcredit borrowers in Afghanistan are now women, many of whom use their loans to start businesses. Beauty parlors, tailoring shops, and bakeries are just some of the enterprises these women now own. Their efforts, observers say, are indispensable in the struggle to reverse decades of deprivation in Afghanistan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2006 6:51 PM

This is great, but will the authorities protect these women so their male overlords don't simply waltz in and take their profits? That really would be progress.

Posted by: erp at May 7, 2006 7:28 PM

Pleasure to hear from you Mrs. Erp. Overlords? slavery is a choice. If the women are slaves, there is little the authorities can do until they stop making that choice.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 7, 2006 8:17 PM


Perhaps someday you can have the pleasure of living under a burkha, and being treated as Catharine MacKinnon imagines every woman in the world is treated by men (monsters).

Posted by: ratbert at May 7, 2006 9:13 PM

Ratbert: I wouldn't. That's my point.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 7, 2006 9:17 PM

Mr. Mitchell -

I am inspired by your fierce display of macho courage.

Posted by: Burkha Babe at May 7, 2006 10:20 PM

'Live free or Die'. It's the American choice.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 7, 2006 10:36 PM

But not the choice women in most of the world get to make. Or, at least, more than once.

Posted by: ratbert at May 7, 2006 11:04 PM

If enough of them make that choice, those who follow won't have to.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 8, 2006 12:41 AM

Mr. Mitchell:

Why don't you go first and show us the way?

Posted by: Burkha Babe at May 8, 2006 7:42 AM

Chose slavery? I bet there are millions of people who would disagree that they "chose slavery."

Posted by: sharon at May 8, 2006 7:50 AM

Robert seems never to have met a woman who wasn't 100% responsible for whatever a man did to her.

It is misguided and conceitful in the extreme to speak of slavery here. You can't divorce the personal from the public when discussing male/female relations. We know that far too many black American men are mistreating black American women, and they know it too, but you still don't see many black women trashing their whole race or demanding black men model themselves on whites. There is plenty of pressure for change and reform from women in the Muslim world, but very little of it is based on dissing Islam or calling for a secular revolt or imposing Massachusetts family law. If our Islamophobia leads us to the point where we dismiss as slavery anything less than the androgynous, absolute legal and social interchangeability we see as our model for men/women relations and family life in the West, then we are guilty of the ethnocentricity of the fiercest, most intolerant and unimaginative 19th century missionary. And we should stop telling ourselves that we really care that much.

Posted by: Peter B at May 8, 2006 8:37 AM

Islam uses a time-tested sure-fire method of keeping their women in slavery. They sell their completely innocent and uneducated daughters at a very young age to like minded men who make sure they have children at as early an age as physically possible and then hold those children as ransom for their women's continued compliant behavior.

Most of these women have zero knowledge of the world outside their harem and are completely at the mercy of the men, and that includes their own sons, in their family who are encouraged to beat and even kill them for infractions of the draconian rules governing their lives. A simple statement of divorce from their husbands and they're on the street alone and penniless with no option other than prostitution for their continued survival -- their children are lost to them forever.

Robert is correct about one thing and that is that some brave women, perhaps lots and lots of brave women, will lead the way and through their martyrdom (real martyrdom with no happy ending in paradise as their reward), Islam will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Posted by: erp at May 8, 2006 8:42 AM

That's not Islam per se, just some of the most backwards countries in the world. Afghanistan hasn't been dragged out of the 15th century despite several hundred years of British, Russian, and American effort. It's not going to be now.

Posted by: oj at May 8, 2006 8:46 AM


Would you say the same thing about Christianity based upon traditonal practices among the poor in Sicily or rural Greece or Appalachia? How about Judaism in the Pale of Settlement?

Posted by: Peter B at May 8, 2006 8:57 AM

Thank you everyone for your time and comments.
Burkha Babe, I can't 'Go first and show you the way'. I'm not opressed; there is no one to cut me down.
Peter B, that's not what I'm talking about. There is a difference between what you will bear and what Humanity will bear. When people are opressed, they will leave. Look at the Berlin Wall, Look at the Boat people. That's not what we are talking about here. While you or I would not live under this conditions, the people in question are doing so. Until they say 'Enough!' there's not much we can do. If we 'free' them they will fall back into the same patterns the minute we leave. Heck, we've seen them do it in America. Freedom is a choice, a personal choice, and one you can't delegate.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 8, 2006 11:18 AM

The Burkha and freedom are not mutually exclusive. American women choose to wear burkhas or scarfs or modest clothing though free not to. Sometimes I think that the only great trend in modern history is towards farce; we start with a fight for democracy, for freedom of speech and religion and we end up worrying about women's fashions.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 8, 2006 11:55 AM


I'm intrigued - do you believe the tens of millions who perished in Soviet Russia (not to mention the hundreds of millions who suffered lifetimes there) chose to stay?

What of those who lived (and mostly died) in concentration camps in Europe? Did they choose to stay?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 8, 2006 12:18 PM


We all believe that or we wouldn't go to war with them. People are responsible for their own governments.

Posted by: oj at May 8, 2006 12:23 PM

Jim, no I don't. That's why the Berlin Wall was built, to keep them in, rembember? The people in concentration camps tried to leave, no one would take them, remember? A proud moment for those who would protect our borders.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 8, 2006 12:27 PM

OJ -

Lenin and Stalin were never elected, were they?

How many of the millions who perished in the camps were German citizens? 15%? And I think that's being generous.

Or do I detect a tinge of condescending nativism in your remark?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 8, 2006 3:57 PM


If the Russians didn't want them they'd have done something about it. Leninism/Stalinism, Nazism. Ba'athism, Shintoism, etc. are morally compelling issues to us--it's evident they didn't matter enough to the citizenries of those countries, which made them fair game.

Posted by: oj at May 8, 2006 4:12 PM

Ye gods. Just when you think people understand totalitarianism.....

You might as well blame the street sweepers in Moscow for not rising up, with their brooms in hand, to deliver a mighty blow for freedom.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 8, 2006 4:26 PM

We did blame them. That's why we waged a war against them for sixty years.

Posted by: oj at May 8, 2006 4:32 PM

And the poor Iraqi children, who didn't have any medicine - did we blame them, too?

Or did we owe them a debt?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 8, 2006 4:47 PM

Uh, Mr. Hamlen, they did.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 8, 2006 4:54 PM

Repressive attitudes toward women among primitive societies in isolated areas especially in southern Europe were merely holdovers from earlier Moslem occupations. This was true among Jews as well as Christians, however, Jews also have their own traditional practices that are still being followed by Jews the world over. None come close the Moslem practices which I believe are on the way out even as we speak. Once the rock is turned over and the ugliness is exposed, it's never the same again.

Posted by: erp at May 8, 2006 5:37 PM

Repressive attitudes toward women among primitive societies in isolated areas especially in southern Europe were merely holdovers from earlier Moslem occupations.

Appalachia? Who knew?

Posted by: Peter B at May 8, 2006 6:57 PM


We were the ones who imposed the kid killing sanctions.

Posted by: oj at May 8, 2006 7:08 PM

Perhaps I'm being naive - but I think mercy is under fire here.

With respect to the top of the thread, the more economic freedom that women obtain in Afghanistan, the better (burkha or no). But someone (those 'rough men' of Orwell's) will have to help them keep it. At least for now. At least until their own sons and brothers and yes, husbands, fight back for them.

Just this weekend, I saw an AP wire piece about Gulbuddin Heykmatyr offering sanctuary to Al Qaeda, and basically declaring war on America. He has hooked up with the Taliban to boost his standing as a warlord. He and his men are just the type to go and kill women in their businesses. The Taliban have already killed probably 100+ people associated with schools in Afghanistan, most particularly girls' schools. Sometimes right in front of the students.

As OJ has written, this is where the war ends. But it will be nasty, because this part has to be fought up close. With no survivors on their side. If it means killing 10,000 men in the foreseeable future, then we have to do it. Because no one else will.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 8, 2006 10:48 PM