This post is written to ask you to help US citizens organize for the benefit of Muslim women especially in countries where we have US troops on the ground. I have attached a newspaper article, which is one of many I could send describing the conditions of their life and their legal status.

There is an Office of International Women’s Issues in the State Dept - on their website they show what is happening in the State Dept.'s efforts to help Muslim women gain equal rights. I am proud of what they have tried to do with the leadership of Condi Rice. More then was ever done under any democract or republican before. It is amazing really. Condi Rice, a single childless black woman, has recognized the hideous slave status of women in Muslim society and has attempted the first organizing efforts ever attempted from the State Dept. She has not received any support from the feminist community in the U.S.

But the state dept bears some responsibility for that. They are not doing any organizing to help US women support women in Afghanistan or Iraq. All they are doing stateside is asking for money. They should be devising ways US women can help victims of domestic abuse abroad in a way that feels hands on- in a way that builds relationships.

In the beginning of the war, the state dept women's website had some inadequate republican projects which were better than nothing. But I and other feminists wrote to ask for domestic violence shelters and female police who were trained and armed by our military to protect women and children.

There was a state dept plan to build 6 regional women’s centers in Afghanistan which might have incorporated secret shelters into their design. As far as I know, nothing ever came of these requests.

A huge opportunity has been lost to improve the position of women globally and in particular Muslim women who are slaves under their religion.
This post is written to renew my request for such an organizing effort to originate from the website below:
Office of International Women's Issues
http://www.state.gov/g/wi/

There is now a hunger to help these women by all segments of US society. To date, both the democrats and republicans have failed women in this regard.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should work with Hillary Clinton on this effort because we are all sick of politics as usual.

I have been talking to feminists about this since the beginning of the war.
No one would listen then, but there has been a great change lately. Now it seems everyone is asking, what can we do?

So I went to the State Dept.'s OIWI website to bring back the project news, and was embarrassed to learn all they are doing is asking for donations. The last time they tried to organize any project was 2005.

I thought those projects were inadequate but now it is worse. I know elections are coming and it is impossible for politicians to stop playing political games but I am going to send this letter to every political candidate from both parties in the hopes that someone will be moved to organize and that person will be familiar with the US domestic violence movement’s tactics.

Now please do not think I did not notice the educational networking and Medal of Courage Awards which I thought was excellent work. I publicized the list of women and their efforts. I also appreciate the news that one Courage Award winner has been imprisoned and hope Sec. Rice makes that a talking point.

But I am asking for non partisan efforts to involve US citizens in efforts that help support women struggling for equal rights in Muslim countries. That organizing is not being done. And it is impossible to contact them.

For instance, this interesting conference took place and I would like to know what has happened since but there is no way to find out.

Policy Forum in the Department of State on Increasing Women's Roles in USG Peace-building, Post Conflict Reconstruction and Stabilization Initiatives
Office of International Women's IssuesThe State DepartmentWashington, DCJune 27, 2007
On June 27, 2007 the
Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues (G/IWI) and the Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction (S/CRS), jointly convened the first Policy Forum in the Department of State on Increasing Women's Roles in USG Peace-building, Post Conflict Reconstruction and Stabilization Initiatives. The forum drew upon both internal USG expertise on this issue and expertise from NGO practitioners. It was followed by an interagency breakout session on implementation strategies.

There is no form to ask questions on the State Dept website. I contacted my Representative (Ryan) to find out what has happened since this conference and received an answer showing he had no idea what I was talking about - same for the Senators --

It is hopeless for an individual trying to deal with the feds. The only time we are real to them is when they are running for election. After that they are busy selling their votes to the corporations and we are just garbage to them.

Below is one report that out lines the need.

Pain of Afghan suicide women
By Payenda Sandbag News,

KabulGulsoom was unconscious for a week. Gulsoom is 17-years-old and married. Last year she tried to commit suicide - she failed. She set fire to herself but, against the odds, survived with appalling injuries. Her plight reflects that of a growing number of young Afghan women, campaigners say. Driven to desperation by forced marriages and abusive husbands, more and more are seeking release through self-immolation.

Gulsoom was engaged at the age of 12. Three years later her family married her to a man aged 40 who she says was addicted to drugs. She was then taken to Iran. Her husband beat her regularly, Gulsoom says, particularly when he had no money for heroin.

"Once after I was badly beaten by my husband, I was in bed when I heard a voice murmuring and telling me to go and set fire to myself," she says." I went and poured petrol on my whole body. The flames on my body lasted for minutes. After eight days I found myself conscious in bed."I cared about my father's dignity - that's why I tolerated everything."'No one will marry me' Gulsoom has had many operations since she divorced her husband and faces many more. When I wore nice clothes my husband showed jealousness, Gulsoom, 17 .

Women seek death by fire: Fighting for the right to sing.

She's not alone - there are hundreds of other women who have tried and failed to kill themselves. Some women do manage to end their lives, but many survive with huge burns to their faces and bodies, like Gulsoom. In many cases they have no choice but to return to the husband and the abuse from which they sought escape.

Gulsoom looks hopelessly at her scarred hands saying her only wish now is to be made better, although she says no one will marry her again with her burnt skin. "When I wore nice clothes my husband showed jealousness," she recalls.

Forced marriages, a culture of family violence and many other social problems are given as causes for the suicides. Afghan women have long had to suffer violence or mysterious deaths. Even now girls are still handed over in disputes or as compensation in murder cases.

Publicising abuse

The BBC's Salmi Suhaili, who works on women-related issues, says women taking their lives is not a new phenomenon in what is traditionally a very conservative society.

But the rise of a civil society and a free media is helping to publicise their acts, he says. Figures given by Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission show that more women burned themselves to death this year in the southern province of Kandahar than anywhere else in the country.

Last year, Herat in the west - where most girls marry at around 15 - was top. Deputy minister of women's affairs Maliha Sahak says that 197 incidents of self-immolation have been recorded since March 2006, 35 of them in Kandahar province alone.

A total of 69 women lost their lives. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says that Kandahar's only hospital for women, which has 40 beds, received 29 cases of suicide in the space of two months. Twenty of those women had set themselves alight.

Independent Human Rights Commission head Sima Samar regrets that, five years after the Taleban were ousted, Afghan women are still suffering violence in its various forms. She says suicide is the final decision for women who don't have any other way to solve their problems or escape abuse.

Changing mindsets

The commission has been working with the Medica Mondiale agency to try to overcome cultural obstacles and give women more of a voice. Campaigners say violence against women must not remain hidden or it will not stop.

Deputy women's minister Maliha Sahak points to last year's protocol involving many Afghan ministries, the Supreme Court and the human rights commission. It was passed with President Hamid Karzai's approval and banned the marriage of a woman if she is under 18 years old.

She says another law is in the pipeline which will require agreement from both man and woman for their wedding to be legal. The women's ministry is to mount an awareness campaign targeting men in an attempt to reduce the violence.

After decades of war, Afghanistan's civil society is still in its infancy. Those trying to end violence against women face many years of struggle to change fundamental elements of tradition and culture, as well as so-called Afghan dignity.

Gunmen kill Afghan school girls.

Two gunmen on a motorbike have killed two school girls and wounded six others as they left their school south of the Afghan capital, Kabul,officials say.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6744931.stm


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