Afghan Family Values

08/19/2005 09:30 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The question yesterday was "remember Afghanistan?" Most US news media certainly haven't. The question today, alerted by Salon, is: remember that one of the reasons was to liberate Afghan women? "Fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a specific culture; it is the acceptance of our common humanity," declared Laura Bush in a Thanksgiving 2001 address.

So what's the latest on women and children in Afghanistan these days? Almost half of all marriages involve girls under 16, the legal age.

The UN Population Fund said today ... that in some rural areas children as young as six years old are married off by their families.... [I]t is common for girls to be traded to resolve conflicts between tribal families. Such children usually become the "property" of the family or individual who receives them.

Yes, the UN is trying to address the problem. Early marriage is not just an unpleasant concept, but can be deadly to immature bodies not ready for intercourse. Earlier this year, Amnesty International reported on the continuing abuse of Afghan women (and, yes, I already noticed that the UN and AI numbers don't tally exactly, but that hardly means there isn't a big problem for women).

Nor is the situation likely to improve much, with a new Taliban in town, according to Knight Ridder.

The Taliban's new tactics ... suggest to some experts that the surge in violence that began five months ago is more than an effort to impede the elections. These experts fear that the Taliban's resurgence may be part of an al-Qaida strategy aimed at keeping the U.S. military stressed and bleeding not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan.

"I think they [al-Qaida] are opening a second front," said Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Department intelligence analyst who's now at the Middle East Institute in Washington. "I don't think the elections are really the focus.

"These are people who see this in broader terms," he said

Americans may have forgotten about the Taliban, but they haven't forgotten about us.