Women and children in Afghanistan suffer every day from abuse, poverty, lack of health care and other horrors. But their plight is only heard when the situation is gruesome enough to merit media coverage.
This disconnect between Washington's much-advertised support for women's rights and its actual disdain for women was not lost upon canny Afghans. From early on, they recognized that the Americans were hypocrites at heart.
"The most important factor is the conservatism that prevails with respect to social issues. Lack of education and economic poverty are other factors. Women are consistently used as a means of labor in families."
"My greatest fear is that after 10 years of efforts to promote women's rights, a group may take over the political power that does not believe in women's identity or even the fact that they are human beings."
"I only fear instability and insecurity. I fear that the insecurity may lead the political powers to strike some kind of bargain that trades away women's rights. It would be a tragedy for women to lose their legal status and rights in this political game."
"The courts should be one of the important sources for women to rely on in this country. Unfortunately, the courts are very corrupt and are permeated by a strongly misogynist attitude, which seeks to use gaps in the law to punish women."
"My two daughters were forced out of education under the Taliban. We were forced to migrate to Pakistan and my family had to weave carpets with me to make a living. It was a hard work that we had to do in awful, unhealthy underground workshops."
"The traditional society is one of the biggest deterrent factors. Even educated members of society attempt to prevent women from working outside the home. Another factor is the extensive level of illiteracy, and general lack of skills, amongst women."
"Our society is not an intellectually independent one. It has not taken decisions for itself; others have always decided on its behalf. But nonetheless, I believe that the young generation of today will not be prepared to accept such a dark and evil scenario."
"The real question is: When we talk about reconciliation, are we talking about real political compromises? Or is it about negotiations and reconciliation for the survival and interests of the ruling establishment?"
"The best development has been the growth of a democratic political atmosphere. We now have the elections, human rights laws and standards, democratic structures, civil society and institutions that can manifest a democratic rule."