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Robert Greenwald

Robert Greenwald is a producer, director, political activist, and Brave New Films founder and president.

August 4th, 2010 10:02 AM

Katie Couric Needs to Get the Facts on Women's Rights in Afghanistan

Written with Derrick Crowe

Katie Couric needs to get all of the information on the situation of women in Afghanistan.

You've probably heard of Time Magazine's outrageous, pro-Afghanistan-War propaganda cover art. If you missed it, Time ran an image of a woman whose nose was cut off next to the headline, "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan." As supporters of women's rights, we were outraged by Time's gross distortion of this critical issue, and we said so.

But today we were shocked to find that CBS News' Katie Couric compounded the distortion by giving Time Magazine's managing editor, Rick Stengel, an even bigger megaphone for his outrageous pro-war spin campaign.

In Couric's most recent webisode, Stengel made easily disprovable claims, including that the rights of women have been "modernized" and that women's "lives have changed." As we show in the Rethink Afghanistan segment on women's rights, these claims can be easily disproved.

Women's rights in Afghanistan are under constant assault right now, often from within the U.S.-backed Kabul government. As journalist and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy says in the segment above,

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, cosmetically, things have improved for the women in Afghanistan...But really, if you look beneath the surface, has life improved for women in Afghanistan? Absolutely not.

But Couric never once challenged Time's editor as he made his claims, even as Human Rights Watch's Zama Coursen-Neff detailed some of the major abuses perpetrated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan:

We're very concerned that Hamid Karzai doesn't have a strong track record on women's rights. He has a history of trading off women's rights when it was politically expedient. Whether it's signing off on a Shia Personal [Status] Law that denied women custody of their children, denied them freedom of movement and said that they had to seek permission from male relatives when they want to leave their house, or pardoning gang rapists when it was politically expedient.

Contrary to Couric's and Stengel's slant on the issue, when Human Rights Watch talked to 90 women in insurgent-controlled areas, all favored a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Couric even called Time "brave" for such a cheap caricature of the choice before the American people.

No, Katie, Time Magazine was not "brave." Brave is a word we should reserve for people like Orzala Ashraf at the Afghan Women's Network, who told Rethink Afghanistan:

I don't believe and I don't expect any outside power to come and liberate me. If I cannot liberate myself, no one from outside can liberate me.

Katie Couric's viewers deserve better. Sign our act.ly petition that urges her to watch Rethink Afghanistan's segment on the situation for Afghan women and to respond on Twitter.

Let's make sure nobody gets away with the ridiculous claim that war helps women caught in the crossfire.

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