Insurgents Reverse Afghan Women's Political Gains

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2009 8:23 AM CDT
An Afghan woman, seen at a polling station in Jalalabad the provincial capital of Nangarhar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday,Aug 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
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(Newser) – Afghan women streamed to the ballot boxes five years ago, and in some districts female turnout was even higher than male. But the flood of women voters that delighted aid groups dried up this year, reports the Washington Post, and many of the segregated female polling stations had few if any voters. More educated women who had voted before stayed home, while in more rural areas families kept mothers and daughters inside in the face of Taliban threats.

Election monitoring groups say that in the Taliban-dominated regions in southern Afghanistan, almost no women voted at all. Women who did vote often did so by proxy—opening the door to fraud. "We have lost a lot of the ground we made," said one woman who voted, fearfully. "We can give a card to a woman and tell her to vote, but that does not protect her from danger, and it does not give her any real rights at all."