Rustam Ali Seeram’s report makes for difficult reading. I see only an abundance of risk and a glimmer of hope. Although it’s hard to imagine how things could be worse, sadly it seems little has changed since 2012:
“According to its menfolk the city of Gereshk was a model for gender equality and required no further encouragement from Western infidels. It already had a school for girls and even allowed women to walk the streets – albeit covered with a burkha and escorted by a male member of the family. This was quite liberal enough.
Being an infidel, I personally believed that the vast majority of social problems in Afghanistan could ultimately be traced back to the absurd practice of gender segregation. I was pretty certain that nature had intended men and women to coexist and from time to time to engage in consensual sexual intercourse. But these were radical and seditious views that had no place in Helmand.
Curiously, the Ministry of Defence also imposed strict gender segregation rules on its representatives in Helmand and banned sexual congress entirely, not as some botched attempt at cultural sensitivity, but because ‘our personnel are expected to behave in accordance with the Armed Forces values and standards at all times’. It was never clear to me which of these values and standards applied to my sex life, but since this was an entirely solitary activity anyway it was not a question that ever came up, so to speak.
Despite their liberal tendencies, the male inhabitants of Gereshk still routinely imprisoned their wives and daughters in the family compound and subjected them to appalling abuse. Josef Fritzl – ‘Das Monster von Amstetten’ – who imprisoned his daughter in the basement of his house and abused her over a 24 year period, would have been considered an upstanding member of the community. But he was already serving a life sentence in an Austrian prison for the criminally insane.
What had shocked the whole of Europe and been utterly incomprehensible in Amstetten, however inconceivable it might sound, was culturally normal activity in Helmand.”
SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the true story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.