Home News Women’s rights must be defended, from Afghanistan to Texas – Pierre Haski

Women’s rights must be defended, from Afghanistan to Texas – Pierre Haski

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A cartoon published in the United States links two current events at the antipodes. The cartoon depicts two women in burqas in the mountains of Afghanistan. One says to the other: “Pray for the women of Texas”.

Obviously this parallelism does not mean that the two situations are comparable. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, it is the totality of women’s rights that disappeared in one fell swoop with the victory of the Taliban. However, the cartoon reminds us that women’s rights are in danger of being called into question at all latitudes.

In Texas, the Republican majority in America’s second-most populous state has taken abortion legislation backward 48 years. The Republican governor has in fact promulgated a law that prohibits abortion beyond six weeks, which is the majority of cases. Texas law thus becomes the most restrictive in the United States.

Above all, however, the fact that the US Supreme Court, with five votes in favor and four against, has decided not to block the Texan law. It’s a huge impact breakthrough.

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The story brings to light an old battle, which ended with the decision of the supreme court known as Roe against Wade, which in 1973 had taken the side of women in the debate between freedom of choice and anti-abortion.

But in recent years the Supreme Court has experienced profound changes in a conservative sense. Last year Donald Trump forced his hand to replace celebrated judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg shortly after her death and just two months before the presidential election. In place of that liberal woman, Trump wanted Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Catholic.

The September 2 vote is an a posteriori political victory for Trump, while Joe Biden denounces “an unprecedented attack on women’s constitutional rights”.

Once again, therefore, the cultural war between “the two Americas”, the liberal and the conservative, is waged on the shoulders of women.

The United States is not the only country where this conflict is taking place. Closer to home, Poland has severely restricted the right to abortion, and Polish civil society continues to protest a decision that again divides the country.

In Afghanistan, of course, the scale of the drama is completely different. The Taliban want the absolute invisibility of women in social life, which is the opposite of the open society that has existed for the past two decades (even if only in large urban centers).

The fact remains that in all the cases mentioned, women’s rights, won after a battle lasting a century, are attacked in the name of a reactionary reading of the sacred texts (of all religions).

Today we cannot forget that thanks to the commitment of activists, abortion has also been legalized in countries where the religious presence has long been dominant, such as Ireland or Argentina.

But the light of regression lighting up at this moment shows that the fight has never been definitively won. It is a lesson for all those wondering about the meaning of feminist engagement in the twenty-first century.

(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)

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