No one underestimates the challenges of helping women become equal participants in a civil society only recently concocted. But allowing progress to recede shouldn’t be an option. Recent negotiations between the Karzai government and the Taliban, in which women’s rights could be diluted, should have all of us worried.
It is too bad, meanwhile, that we are restricted in these discussions by terminology that rings of cliche. “Women’s rights” sounds too much like debates about abortion and subsidized day care. What we’re really talking about is basic human rights. The freedom to work, to make decisions about one’s own life, to seek an education and to be safe to walk on the streets without a male escort. To be fully human, in other words.
Anything less is terrorism by another name. The insanity that sends jihadists to rain hell on civilized nations is the same that stones women to death for failing to comply with primitive norms of behavior.