How the West misuses Malala's message

Monday, November 25, 2013
Malala Yusufzai has not just spoken out against the Taliban's violence against women, but also the US campaign of drone strikes on Pakistan.

At just 16 years old, Malala Yusufzai is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. When the Pakistani teenager was shot in her head by Taliban gunmen because she spoke out about her right to education, it sent shock waves around the world.

The Western media took notice. Her attack was used as an excuse by Western media and governments to justify the invasion of Afghanistan.

Malala is a courageous young woman, whose brave example in the face of barbaric violence is being used to justify the barbaric military violence associated with the occupation of Afghanistan.

The notion that the West is in Afghanistan to liberate women from the “barbaric Taliban” is an example of the “white saviour” complex. But the truth is there are hundreds or thousands of other young women from Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries who are denied education ― often thanks to actions of forces backed by the West. The forces in the Afghan government backed by the occupiers are also brutal misogynists, whose treatment of women is no better than the Taliban they replaced.

But the stories of young women who are victims of pro-Western forces have been conveniently forgotten as Western politicians and journalists seek to relieve themselves of guilt for the crimes being committed by the West on other women like Malala.

The US-led wars on Afghanistan and Iraq have robbed hundreds of thousands of people of their lives. The Western media, having failed to seriously question the drive to war or report on its consequences, now praise Malala and her campaign without putting it in the context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilisation of the region it has led to.

Malala’s message is true ― every child has a right to education. But her message is only partly reported.

Malala is not just opposed to the Taliban ― she also opposes the US war on Afghanistan, which has increasingly spilled into her homeland of Pakistan. It is not just Taliban violence Malala has objected to, she has also spoken out against the US campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed many civilians.

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi is another name barely mentioned in the Western media and ignored by Western politicians. She was a 14-year-old Iraqi girl gang-raped and killed by US soldiers.

The West has hijacked Malala’s message. The West has denied more girls education via their missiles than the Taliban have with their bullets.

Malalai Joya is another powerful advocate for women's education in the region, who risked her life running illegal schools for women when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan.

Elected to and expelled from Afghan parliament for condemning the warlords who sit in it, Joya is a strident opponent of the US-led occupation of her country. Joya insists: “For my people, peace without justice is meaningless.”

From GLW issue 990