A video showing a woman being shot nine times in front of a cheering crowd in Afghanistan has been spreading like wildfire online, stirring up all sorts of discussion on the fate of women residing there.
Obtained by Reuters (Warning Graphic Video), the incident which took place last month was described as "an honor killing." The Taliban soldiers present in the video had allegedly had some kind of "dispute" with the woman, and decided to accuse her of adultery "in order to save face." The two commanders then "faked a court to decide the fate of this woman and in one hour, they executed the woman," a provincial governor tells CNN.
The incident has reportedly incited the anger of the locals, who vowed revenge against the Taliban, who are denying the matter had anything to do with them. And the release of the video couldn’t have been more timely: it came out the same day a major donor’s meeting in Tokyo, where more than 70 nations pledged $16 billion in Afghan development aid over the next four years.
The incident has also brought some question why such atrocities are still taking place despite the presence of
130,000 foreign troops and 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police in Afghanistan. Some believe this has little to do with the army's presence and is more about giving all girls in Afghanistan the right to education. Aryn Baker of Time writes:
Sure, more than three million Afghan girls are in school today, more than ever before in the history of Afghanistan, and up from nearly zero in 2000. But few of those girls go on to secondary school, and those that do are usually in the urban areas. Rural Afghanistan, as evinced by the video, has changed little. That execution took place in Shinwari district, about an hour’s drive from the paved roads and glass-fronted office blocks of Kabul, but centuries away in terms of development.
But of the estimated $545 billion the U.S. has spent in Afghanistan, very little has gone to the kinds of programs that would make an enduring difference in women’s lives, such as high school and university education. Economic empowerment schemes for women, from handicrafts training to agricultural programs, may look good to taxpayers back home, but they aren’t sustainable, and the projects dry up as soon as the money does. According to AFP, the U.S. says it has contributed some $316 million to teacher training programs, and that out of the 175,000 teachers in Afghanistan, about a third of them are women. Frankly, that’s not enough teachers, nor women teachers, for 12.6 million children under the age of 14. The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative estimates that only 18 percent of women ages 15-24 can read, compared to 50 percent for men in the same age group. Clinton can speak all she wants about a commitment to women’s rights, but it won’t mean much until Afghan women can speak for themselves. And they won’t be able to do that without education.