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In Afghanistan, a woman's place is at the peace table

Op-Ed

Let women play a bigger role in the country's affairs and see what happens to the peace process.

January 13, 2011|By Ann Jones

I suppose this means my modest proposal doesn't stand a chance, and that's a shame. We know from experience that power-sharing agreements among combatants tend to fray, often unraveling into open warfare within a few years. We also know that just because the big men in power stop shooting at each other doesn't mean they stop the war against civilians — especially women and girls. Rape, torture, mutilation and murder continue unabated or increase.

Thus, from the standpoint of civilians, a war is not always over when it's "over," and the "peace" is not necessarily a real peace at all. Think of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the notorious rape capital of the world, where thousands upon thousands of women have been gang-raped even though the country has been officially at peace since 2003.

I don't expect men in power to take seriously the Security Council's proposition that the involvement of women in negotiations makes for a better and more lasting peace. Progressive, peaceable men would prefer to live in a peace created by women and men together. But too many big men, in both Afghanistan and the U.S., are doing very nicely, thank you, with the traditional arrangements of their country and ours.

Ann Jones is the author of, among other books, "War Is Not Over When It's Over" and "Kabul in Winter." A longer version of this piece appears at tomdispatch.com.

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