In the aftermath of the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the US launched its attack on Afghanistan, a country identified to be the refuge for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden took credit for the 9/11 attacks on American soil; and with these attacks, the military repercussions were great (Boaz, et.al., 2005). Afghanistan was embroiled in the US counter-offensive; moreover, its apparent liberation was sought by the US. During this offensive, veiled women were pictured and their images captured the imagination of the world. The veil was labeled by Americans and by the west as a restriction to the rights of women (Steans, 2006). Some accounts from women in Afghanistan chronicled abuse – physical and sexual – from the male members of society. The fact that many of them did not enjoy the privileges granted to other women all over the globe also further spurred the cry of protest among feminists and other concerned interest groups (Steans, 2006). The “liberation” of these women from their veil echoed in many parts of the world, especially in America and other Western developed nations. Many Muslim women have been however quick to point out that wearing their burqas or their veils was their personal choice, and was a part of their cultural identity. Still, issues on the use of the veil and the need to liberate Afghan and Muslim women still dominated the political and military activities launched by the US and other Allied powers (Steans, 2006). Abu-Lughod (2002) discusses specific points on the issue of whether or not Muslim women need saving. The author emphasizes that in order to understand the various cultural differences which people have right now, instead of forcing popular values on other people, attempts to make the world more fair and equitable to women should be focused on (Abu-Lughod, 2002). Western or American ideas cannot be forced on people, and the viewpoints on the practices of Muslims cannot be condemned summarily just because they may not fit people’s personal sensibilities. The author (Abu-Lughod, 2002) poses a challenge to the Western nations, for these nations and its people to evaluate their understanding of feminism and “fairness.” Abu-Lughod (2002) asks if feminism has a cross-cultural meaning; and she argues that feminism is not a Western concept only. It is an ideal goal which is internalized better when Americans consider their understanding of the Muslim culture and the role of women within such culture. Laura Bush spoke about the fight against terrorism being a fight for the rights and dignity of women. From such statement, there seems to be an assumption that the women’s rights and dignity is a concern only exclusive to the Americans or to the western nations (Abu-Lughod, 2002). In effect, the cliched considerations about the plight of the Muslim women seem to be nothing
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This paper shall discuss the sentiments that the author expresses in relation to the wider history of the concept of cultural relativism and historical particularism. It shall define the cultural practices in relation to Afghan women, and the meanings of such practices as viewed from the Afghan and from the Western-American perspective…
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