SAFE SPACE FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ

Based on the feminist organizing I did since 1972 in Wisconsin, I have a fundamental criticism of the US Afghan & Iraq women's reconstruction programs. I believe a critical element for the overall success of the campaign to achieve equality for women, is being omitted from those U.S.efforts. SECURITY.

I need your help to influence UNDER SECRETARY Paula DOBRIANSKY to implement a system of regional domestic violence and abuse shelter villages in Afghanistan.

They can be funded by the USAID. Because of the unique circumstances in the middle east the battered women shelters have to be within a protected village. The regional women's centers which are already being built can serve as the core of these villages.

I need your help to get funding for women to be trained as police officers to guard it.

WE MUST DEVELOP SAFE SPACE FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ

6 to 8 Regional Women's Centers are being built in Afghanistan at this time funded by USAID.

The US could:

Through the Office of Women's Initiatives in the US State Dept. include battered & abused women's shelter/villages in the building of those regional women's centers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Alter the current building plans to include a complex which is fenced, gated and guarded, first by the US military and subsequently, by an Afghan women's militia/police trained by US forces to do the job.

Advocate that women's police force be used to investigate and enforce the new secular family law and other crimes against women. This is a culturally appropriate women's security system for Muslim countries emerging from theocracy.

I and others did write the Office of Women's Initiatives and asserted that the lack of shelters are a fundamental error.

The leadership in the U.S. who are working with the Office of Women's Initiatives at the State Dept. on reconstruction programs are wealthy business people whose experience is in economic development. They concentrate on the legal and economic barriers to equality with their programs.

This is fine, good and necessary but these people are missing knowledge and experience of what is needed in terms of security.

Even the upper class Muslim women leaders from Iraq and Afghanistan cannot freely talk about the security they need domestically (i.e. protection from their own husbands and fathers).

In any case, shelters have not been a part of the US international programs for women.
There are two women's militia in the area plus Kurdish women are being trained to protect their borders so all women's police guards is not an off the wall idea.

USAID is constructing regional centers for women's initiatives. So it would only take a few more steps to construct transitional housing there, surrounded by walls, to house domestic violence and abuse victims.

At this time in Afghanistan those women are confined to prison with their children.

They can build prisons so they can build protected compounds.

How I have done the analysis is to put the Office of Women's Initiative's fact sheets in full on my blog in blue type - wherever you see GREEN TYPE those are my criticisms. Those are my critical comments and all for the most part concern domestic security for women who oppose traditional roles or try to escape abuse.

You will find three lists of posts titles when you click on the archived months of 2005 on the top of the green column to your right but I have made links to the relevant info below..

Click The U.S.-Afghan Women's Council This is an Introduction to the programs in Afghanistan - see my criticisms in green.

Click A Feminist Questions What the US claims to be doing to Help Women in Afghanistan
In that piece, in the introduction, I have a link to DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? be sure to clink on that link and read that story which was the basis for my writing to Ponticelli . It is about the women in prison.

Then click: Founding Mothers -- Next Steps in Post-Election Afghanistan and Iraq The International Woman's Day transcript. The Office of Women's Initiatives brought all the women they are working with to DC and this is what they have to say. My comments are in green. Almost at the very end, I screamed with delight as a women brought up the women's prison which I have been writing about and the shelters which I have been writing about. (And which I need you to write about.)

See Also: USAID Announces $2.5 Million for Afghanistan Women's Ministry (This is the funding for the regional centers)

You might also want to read on my blog 3/1/05 Women for Women ?????? A new survey of Iraqi women showing 90% support the "invasion" and are hopeful about the future. Far different news then the left has been giving us as to the feelings of these women. I think it is ironic that the left feels free to speak for women they never noticed before.

Look at this UN Financial mismanagement AGAIN!: http://www.unifem.org/filesconfirmed/2/283_at_a_glance_trust_fund.pdf
Seven million dollars spent by the UN trust fund to eliminate violence against women AND NOT ONE SHELTER BUILT. In Siberia they gave some funds to a group that built a shelter but the UN did not build the shelter. Like the oil for food scandal I think we need the media to investigate the waste of these funds. None of this money is being used to actually protect women from domestic violence.


I have sent this letter to many feminists and am developing a mailing list. However one interaction has been very disturbing.

I warned the Office of Womens Initiatives that if they do not begin the shelters our enemies will.
On the blog Feministe in a debate with a left progressive type I was told:

by the way, here's some Iraqi women leftists who have been speaking out on Iraqi women's rights long before you were... and gee, they've provided shelter services for over a decade. is there a reason why you aren't supporting them? y'know, besides the fact that they're uppity leftists...

Greenconsciousness Says: March 23rd, 2005 at 12:21 pm
What a joke - shelters for who? Syrian and Sunni terrorists who killed the woman that started this thread and tried to make it seem as if the fundamentalist did it? I eagerly ran over there to meet women who had established shelters. There are no shelters and there are hardly any women. I urge all readers to follow jam's link and pay close attention to what the left's idea of woman's liberation is globally.
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Thank you for contacting us. Susan Crais Hovanec, Department of State.

Dear Virginia,

We are aware that domestic violence is a major issue in many countries, not just Afghanistan and Iraq. The issue comes up in every meeting we have with women from around the world. For this reason, the U.S. assistance programs in Afghanistan, for example, include building women's centers.

In many cases we envision that these centers will be used as temporary shelters for abused women while providing vocational training so these women have economic choices. We are also working with NGOs to develop women's shelters in many countries.

We also feel that educating women about their legal and civil rights (and human rights) is essential; many women really don't know they have "rights". In Pakistan as you know a related issue is making its way in a high profile way through the local and national courts.

One program in South Asia initiated by The Asia Foundation holds seminars on "Women in Islam" to discuss women's rights and gender equity with the Islamic teachings. Most Muslim cleric maintain that women should not be abused. We are pleased this this kind of a dialogue is gaining ground in many Muslim countries.

We cannot cure or change aberrant behavior alone; movements need home-ground support to be sustained. In some countries women are devalued, so it will take a long time and local outrage to change the culture.

I will send this message to some of our NGO partners, who are on the ground.
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I then wrote again to the Office of Women's Initiatives and said:

I want to drive home to you the point that if you continue to ignore the need for battered women's shelters in your middle east women's programs, your enemies will develop the shelters and they will turn them into the modern version of the Muslim schools for terrorists (madrases).

Women will flock to those shelters and your enemies will be waiting there to indoctrinate them. Then, if you try to call these shelters "centers of insurgency" which they will be, or worse yet if you attack them, your enemies will rally thousands more in this country to bring you down. I am tired of attempting to influence you.

Wake Up. I want this email to go to Condi Rice.

I want her to see it. Perhaps she will see the military implications of your failure to understand the importance of battered and abused shelters for women.

I want you to build separate formal, gated, protected battered and abused shelters as part of the regional women centers.

I want you to remove the women and their children from the prisons in Afghanistan to reside in them.

I want you to publicize the shelters to women in schools and medical centers throughout the regions.

I want you to develop programs with your media funds to help women get to the shelters. I want you to develop a women's militia, trained AND EQUIPPED by US forces to protect these shelters.

I want the shelters to provide the basis for eventual changes in the legal system.
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Dear Ms Hovanec:

I write again because I see already a fundamental flaw in your response to me that I want to point out based on my experience starting the first women's shelter in Wisc. You say: I will send this message to some of our NGO partners, who are on the ground.

I laugh merrily - perhaps it will be different in Afghanistan but when we started the shelters here in the US, the other women's groups told us the women wouldn't come because of this, that and the other thing. It was all too hard and there were so many reasons why.

Just build the shelters and start the all women's CR groups. If you build it - they will come.


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