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Revolution, the State, Islam, and Women: Gender Politics in Iran and Afghanistan

Author(s): Val Moghadam

Source: Social Text, No. 22 (Spring, 1989), pp. 40-61
Published by: Duke University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/466519 .
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Revolution,the State,Islam, and Women:
GenderPoliticsin Iran and Afghanistan

1989 marks the tenth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. If the cur-
rent Afghan government stays in power, it may or may not commemorate
the eleventh anniversary of what it calls the Saur Revolution. Political
and social changes in both Iran and Afghanistan since the late 1970s
compel us to rethink the meaning of revolution and reflect on the term
"resistance"-the latter referring to both the Afghan armed opposition
and the anti-Khomeini Mujahideen organization of Iran.
Sexual politics are at the center of Islamic movements in the Mid-
dle East, and are especially salient in the cases of Iran and Afghanistan.
In both countries, revolutionary change and the reorganization of state
power rearticulated gender rules and gender power. These two examples
offer an interesting contrast of the strategic role of women's rights in
revolutionary situations and in political contests.
In any discussion of the Third World, and especially of the Middle
East, the problem of ethnocentrism or West-centeredness is raised and
must be addressed. In both Iran and Afghanistan, Islamists (and in the
case of Afghanistan, their western supporters)argue that to promote any-
thing other than an Islamic order, or to raise questions about male-female
relations, is to be arrogantly Eurocentric. This theme is frequently found
in Islamist and nationalistic critiques of the Iranian Left and the socialist
project, but it is especially common in the literature on Afghanistan,
notably that written by active supporters of the Mujahideen. It is an
argument that I do not accept. In the first instance, "Islamic" societies
are not uniformly but unevenly developed and internally differentiated,
characterized by hierarchies and stratification which result in domestic
conflicts over political and economic strategies and cultural identity(ies).
Secondly, the critique of Eurocentrism need not lapse into a militant
cultural relativism, or a "protective denial" (to borrow a term from Hanna
Papanek) of oppressive relations, institutions, and practices. For these
reasons, I would argue that the discourse of equality, whether it refers
to regional, class, ethnic, or gender disparities, is not only appropriate
but sensible and pragmatic, given domestic inequalities and conflicts.

41 ValMoghadam

Iran and Afghanistan share a number of characteristics and experien-

ces. They are neighboring countries with largely Muslim populations which
underwent drastic political and social change in the late 1970s. They have
both in varying ways encounteredthe superpowers. The question of women
was central to the program and vision of the new authorities. The con-
trast lies in the type of revolution that took place, the political nature
of the new regimes, and the specific program for women in the two
cases. In Iran a mass uprising unfolded between 1977 and 1979 which
has been deemed a "social revolution.2 In Afghanistan, a group of Mar-
xists organized in the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)
came to power in April 1978 in a military coup following demonstra-
tions of some 15,000 people in Kabul against the Daoud government
and the imprisonmentof PDPA figures. (Afghanistan's population in 1978
was 15 million, or less than half of that of Iran. The capital city of
Kabul had a population of 749,000. Thus 15,000 is no small figure,
though it is nothing like the millions-half the population of Tehran-
that marchedagainst the Shah and greetedthe AyatollahKhomeiniin January
1979.) In Iran,social structuralchanges and contradictionscaused the Revolu-
tion; in Afghanistan,pressureon the Daoud governmentby the Pahlavi state
(which may or may not have been acting at the behest of the U.S govern-
ment) led to the clamp-down, arrests and rumors of executions that trig-
gered the April 1978 coup.
The two countries also differ markedly in terms of socio-economic
indicators. In 1978 Afghanistan's economy was largely agricultural, al-
though natural gas was important. There was (is) some light industry,
mainly textiles. Seventy-eight percent of the labor force was rural and
agricultural.4 By contrast Iran's economy was industrializing at a more
rapid pace, and there was an expanding service sector; on the eve of
the Revolution, only about 35 % of the labor force remained in agricul-
ture. While the birthratewas roughlythe same in both countries,Afghanistan's
infant mortality and overall death rates were twice as high as in Iran.
There was only one doctor for every three thousand people, with medi-
cal facilities available only in the capital and a number of other cities.
Fifty percent of its children died before the age of five. Life expectancy
was a mere thirty-eight years. Infrastructure-especially as regards paved
roads and railways-was highly undeveloped in Afghanistan, again in
contrast to Iran.5
The Afghan economy has been described as fragmented and stag-
nant.6 The roots of this situation have been traced back to the country's
involvement in the early international trade in which it participated not
as a producer of commodities but as a facilitator of transit trade. As one
analyst has explained, the early trading routes between China, Central
Asia, the Arab States, and Turkey as well as those between Europe, Russia
and India cut across Afghan territory, giving rise to what are today the
major Afghan cities-Kabul, Kbat, Kandahar, and Jalalabad, and to an
urban commercial sector geared to servicing caravans and organizing the
42 Revolution,the State, Islam, and Women

transportationof transitgoods. Contrary,for example, to Europeancities,

Afghan towns did not assume the role of integratingmarkets,organizing
the exchange of indigenouslyproducedcommodities,and establishinga
nationaleconomy.In Afghanistan,economiclinks betweenthe townswere
initially as undevelopedas their links with the surroundingrural areas.
The reorientationof trade towardexport production(of agriculturalraw
materialsand carpets)at the end of the 19th centuryreinforcedthe stag-
nation of the nationalindustrialsector.7
The developmentplanning that began in the 1950s did not reduce the
by then deeply entrencheddichotomiesbetweenruraland urbanareas and
between foreign trade and domestic production. A public sector had
been createdbut investmentremainedlow. Still, on the eve of the Saur
Revolution, the bazaar economy controlled roughly 50 percent of the
financial transactions(includingmoney lending and foreign exchange
dealings), as well as the retail trade and foreign trade.8
Labor statistics are not terriblyreliable, especially for rural areas, and
women's economic activities,generally,and agricultural activitiesspecifi-
cally are frequentlyunderreported, but accordingto ILO data Afghanistan
in 1979 had a female populationof 6.3 million, of which 313,000 were
consideredeconomicallyactive. Of that figure, 85% were production-re-
lated workers,employedmainly in textiles (clothingand carpets),a pat-
tern found also in Iran and Turkey; the other large category was
comprised of "professional, technical, and related workers": 13,000
women of 4 percent of the economically active female population.9
These women were mostly teachers,nurses, and governmentemployees
(all high status occupations),secretaries,hairdressers,
entertainersand one
or two parliamentarians:membersof the salariedmiddleclass.10Thusthere
was in Afghanistana small but growing modem middle class, of which
the PDPA was a part.
In Iran and Afghanistan, women's legal status was affected by the
Revolutionand the reorganizationof state power in very differentways.
In Iran, women lost status while in Afghanistanwomen gained status.
But in both cases, the new states encountereddifficultiesin implement-
ing their respectiveprogramsvis-a-vis women.
On "Revolution"in Iran and Afghanistan
It is commonly understoodthat Iran experienceda "social revolution"
and Afghanistana "coup d'etat"; that Iran's revolutionarygovernment
was "popular"and "representative" (endorsedby 98% of the electorate
in the April 1979 referendum)and that Afghanistan'sgovernmentwas
and remains a "minority"and "unrepresentative" regime, buttressedby
foreign troops.1 Yet it was the "popular"and "representative" govern-
ment which passed legislation resultingin a loss of status for women,
while the "minoritygovernment"next door enacted legislation to raise
women's status throughchanges in family law and policies to encourage
female educationand employment.
43 ValMoghadam

One way of explainingthe divergentoutcomesis to note that Iran'swas

an "Islamicrevolution"and Afghanistan'sa "Marxist-ledrevolution."In
fact, this is part of the answer,but the story is more complicated.The
IranianRevolutionwas carriedout by a populist collectivity, which in-
cluded liberals, communists,nationalminorities,and women of all clas-
ses. TheRevolution includeda call for "rights"as well as populistdemands,
though "Islamicpopulism"may be identifiedas the dominantdiscourse
of the revolutionarymovement. Following the collapse of the Pahlavi
state in February1979 the coalition dissolved into its constituentele-
ments; Islamizationwas consolidatedfollowing a year and a half of in-
tense political conflicts.12The Iranianleft has since been accused of
acquiescing in the Islamist/clericalestablishmentand not challenging
their retrogradeagenda vis-a-vis women.13The fate of women (and
other tragedies) since 1979 has raised fundamentalquestions about the
IranianRevolution:was it reactionary,was it "premature," was it in any
sense emancipatory,or was it necessarilycontradictory?
A "social revolution"is understoodto be one that transformsexisting
social structuresand power relations.It is not clear that such sweeping
change has occurredin Iran. Althoughpolitical, cultural,and ideological
changes have been deep, the economic ones have been limited.14On the
other hand, some theoristswould dispute the very term "social revolu-
tion" (in the sense of a gradualand protractedprocess), and argue that
a revolution is instead a single, transformative event, a "punctual
process"(PerryAnderson),a compressedperiod of change (GoranTher-
born)-what Marxistshave usually called political revolution.15In that
case, what transpiredin Afghanistanin 1978 can properlybe called a
revolution.But even if what transpiredin Afghanistanis not deemed a
revolution,it is worth noting that a ratherlarge numberof ThirdWorld
countrieshave had self-styled revolutionswhich came at the heels of a
militarycoup (e.g., Turkey,Egypt, Peru, Iraq) and that what the PDPA
attemptedin 1978 has been called "revolutionfrom above" (Ellen Kay
Trimberger).16 The question arises as to why some new states and
ruling parties are able to implement their program "from above"
(Nasser, APRA in Peru, the DasturParty in Tunisia,the BaathPartyin
Iraqand Syria),and othersare not. In the case of Afghanistan,partof the
explanation for the failure lies in the unusually rugged nature of its
geographicterrainand in the undevelopedand fragmentedcharacterof its
social structures.1

The State-SocietyNexus
Recent sociological researchhas focused on state-societylinkages in the
reorganizationof state power, on state autonomy,and state capacity to
realize its goals.18In definingthe determinantsof state capacity,research
focuses on organizational means,elite formation,crisis situation,relationto
dominantclasses,establishedauthority(legitimacy),andwhatmightbe called
political culture. The "world-historicalcontext" is also examined: the
44 theState,Islam,andWomen

epochally specific transnational parameters within which the empirical

cases are located. This relational approach regards the state, societal in-
terest groups, and external actors (such as multinational corporations or
more powerful states) as partially symbiotic and partially conflictual.
These variables determine the direct or indirect leverage a state is likely
to have for realizing any goal it may pursue. For example, Fred Hal-
liday has noted that the PDPA reime was the victim of renewed ten-
sion between the U.S. and USSR.
In determining why one state (Iran) has prevailed despite chronic
crisis while the other (Afghanistan) is constantly on the verge of col-
lapse, one must examine the intended and unintended consequences of
state action and the interplay of domestic and international forces. Here
an important explanatory variable is the distinction between "strong
states" and "weak states," where "state strength" is identified with a
capacity for effective economic intervention and political repression.2
In light of what was stated above about infrastructure, and considering
the persistent difficulty in Afghanistan of establishing any kind of
central authority, Iran and Afghanistan are extreme cases of the "strong
state/weak state" distinction and its implications for state policy.21 Iran
has had a strong, centralized state since the 1930s. In Afghanistan,
various governments have unsuccessfully tried to challenge old local
authority patterns, wherein loyalty to the community (gawm), was the
dominating political force. (Local ties remain very strong and are be-
hind the well-known disunity within the ranks of the Mujahideen. It is
also a reason some analysts have predicted a complete breakdown of
social order, widespread massacres, and anarchy.22
A related variable is structural change, in particular the importance
of urbanization and proletarianization. I believe that this explains the
(domestic) limits on state autonomy and capacity in both cases. That is,
given Iran's more developed social structure (including class and gender
relations), there was only so much the new authorities could undo or
roll back; their Islamization project could not meet with complete suc-
cess. This is especially relevant in their program for women which, it is
important to note, has not been as drastic as initially perceived. Data on
female employment in post-revolutionary Iran reveals a discrepancy be-
tween ideological prescriptions and economic imperatives, mainly arising
from a war situation; women's labor force participation rates and pat-
terns have not altered significantly relative to the Pahlavi period.23
Similarly, the less developed social structure-the prevalence of
precapitalist social and sexual relations, the predominantly rural charac-
ter of the country, and the extent of nomadic pastoralism-made it ex-
tremely difficult for the new state to realize its modernizing goals.

The State and Women in Iran and Afghanistan

The literature on Iran is replete with references to the sexual politics of
the Revolution and the new regime. Some authors have argued that the
45 ValMoghadam

revolutionary discourse was explicitly anti-female, that the growing

number of educated and employed women "terrified" men who came to
regard the modern woman as the manifestation of Westernization and
imperialist culture.24 Much of the early literature on the fate of women
following the Iranian Revolution focuses on analyses of Islamic texts,
on the anti-female legislation in the immediate post-revolutionary period,
and on the Left's betrayal of the women's movement.2 The Iranian
Revolution is in fact an example of how a "social revolution" is no
guarantee for rights of citizens (or even participants in the revolutionary
collectivity), and of how a nationalist or populist discourse devoid of a
specific program for women, minorities, workers, the press, etc., can ob-
fuscate important issues that are subsequently violently fought out.
Only three weeks after the "February victory," middle-class,2un-
educated non-Islamist women encountered the new sexual politics when
they devoted International Women's Day (March 8) to a denunciation of
calls for the imposition of hejab (all-encompassing Islamic dress for
women). They were physically attacked by men who called them
whores, bourgeois degenerates, un-Islamic, and de-culturated. In the
Iranian political lexicon, the dreaded word for all this is gharbzadeh,
sometimes translated as "occidentosis," the abnormal state of being un-
duly attracted to "the West," or simply of being Westernized.2
It is necessary to point out that in the 1979-1980 period, the
women's movement, then quite dynamic, was bifurcated, that there were
pro-Khomeini and anti-Khomeini women, and that even among Is-
lamicist women there were different perspectives on women's rights is-
sues, including the veil. Also, many women were comfortable with the
veil because of the prevalence of male harassment of women in Western
dress. During the sixties and seventies, when I was growing up in Teh-
ran, just waiting for a taxi or shopping downtown entailed major battles
with men, who variously leered, touched, made sexual remarks, or
cursed you. Women were fair game, and it is therefore understandable
that many would want to withdraw to the protective veil when in
public. But the legal imposition of hejab was not about protecting
women, and it was certainly not part of any struggle against male
sexism: it was about negating female sexuality and therefore protecting
The idea that women had "lost honor" during the Pahlavi era was
a widespread one. Consider this example of a gendered text, written by
an Iranian revolutionary in the early 1970s.2
In the old society, the deprivedand the well-to-doboth knew basic manners,
customsandvalues.Zeal [ghairat],chastity[namoos],andmodesty[effat]were
basic conceptsfor all the society....Bothclasses enjoyedcommontales, songs,
In his dissertation on Islamic populism, Kaveh Afrasiabi describes a
conversation in early February 1979 with a striking worker named
Alimorad who had just returned from Shahr-e Now (the red-light district
46 Revolution,the State, Islam, and Women

in downtown Tehran) which had been destroyed by a fire set by Islamic

"Weburntit all.Cleansedthecity,"he said.
"Andwomen?" I asked.
"Whoareyou?Wheredoyoucomefrom?" I askedhim.
"Iama worker fromRezaieh, marriedwithchildren."
"What is yourbusinessinTehran?"
"Totakepartin therevolution!"
"Whatis happening in Rezaieh?"
"InRezaiehthereis justamovement Uombesh],butherethereis arevolution."
"Whydoyousupport therevolution?"
"Islam,freedom, zolm[oppression],"
poverty, he answeredwithouthesitation.
"Whatelse?"I insisted.
nowworking. Whatis leftof familywhenthewifeworks?"
"Andwhatis yourexpectation of Islam?"
"Islamis our dignity.I want to bringbreadon my own-to have a
wife at home to cook and nursethe children,God and Islam willing."

Such attitudes were behind the early legislation pertaining to

women. In the interest of space, I will survey the effects of Islamization
on women by using Nayereh Tohidi's enumeration of the dimensions of
the present status of Iranian women: (1) the compulsory veil; (2) the
segregation of women in public institutions; (3) lowering of the mar-
riage age from eighteen to thirteen; (4) the reinstitution of polygamy
and temporary marriage; (5) the reinstatement of divorce and child cus-
tody as unilateral rights of men; (6) the reintroduction of male guar-
dianship, especially for travel; (7) the restriction of female employment
(including the requirement of the male guardian's written permission
before employment is sought or obtained); (8) the illegalization of abor-
tion; (9) the closing of day-care centers; (10) according to Islamic Law
of Retribution (Qesas), a woman's value is deemed half as that of a
man; women's inheritance is also 50 %; (11) sexual offenses such as
adultery are punishable by death; acts of homosexuality are also punish-
able by death if the "offense" is repeated; (12) women are abused
sexually; female political prisoners who have not had prior sexual rela-
tions have been raped (actually forced into temporary marriage by
prison authorities) before execution because in Islam a virgin will go to
heaven if she dies; (13) women relentlessly victimized by the war, par-
ticularly in terms of the increasing number of widows, displaced, and
refugee women.
Now to turn to Afghanistan, where the contrast is really quite
In 1978 the Government of Nur Mohammad Taraki, President of the
Revolutionary Council in Afghanistan, initiated a wide-ranging program
47 ValMoghadam

of change and development. Along with land reform and other measures
to wrest power from traditional leaders in Afghan society, the govern-
ment promulgated Decree No. 7, which aimed at fundamental change in
the institution of marriage. A prime concern of the decree, which also
motivated other reforms by the Taraki government, was to reduce
material indebtedness throughout the country; it was also meant to en-
sure the equal rights of women with men. In a speech on November 4,
1978, President Taraki said that "through the issuance of Decrees No. 6
and 7, the hard-working peasants were freed from the bonds of oppres-
sors and money-lenders, ending the sale of girls for good as hereafter
nobody would be entitled to sell any girl or woman in this country.30
The first two articles in Decree No. 7 forbid the exchange of a
woman in marriage for cash or kind and the payment of other presta-
tions customarily due from a bridegroom on festive occasions; the third
article sets an upper limit of three hundred Afghanis on the mahr, a
payment due from groom to bride which is an essential part of the for-
mal Islamic marriage contrast. Taraki explained that "we are always
taking into consideration and respect the basic principles of Islam.
Therefore, we decided that an equivalent of the sum to be paid in ad-
vance by the husband to his wife upon the nuptial amounting to ten
'dirhams' [traditional ritual payment] according to shariat [Islamic canon
law] be converted into local currently which is afs. 300. We also
decided that marriageable boys and girls should freely choose their fu-
ture spouses in line with the rules of shariat.31 (At the exchange rate
of the time, 42 Af=$1; afs. 300 was the equivalent of $7.00. National
income per person was $210.32
The legislation aimed to change marriage customs so as to give
young women and men independence from their marriage guardians.
The ages of first engagement and marriage were raised to sixteen for
women and 18 for men (an interesting contrast to what happened in the
Iranian case). The decree further stipulated that no one, including
widows, could be compelled to marry against his or her will-this
referred to the customary control of a married woman (and the honor
she represents) by her husband and his agnates, who retain residual
rights in her in the case of her widowhood. The decree also stipulated
that no one could be prevented from marrying if s/he so desired.
It must be noted that a number of studies on Afghanistan reveal the
indebtedness of the rural population. One source of indebtedness is
through "excessive expenditure in marriage"; "the heaviest expenses any
household has to bear are concerned with marriage," and that the choice
of bride, the agreed brideprice, and the time taken to complete a mar-
riage may visibly confirm or indeed increase a household's poverty.
Another point to be made is that the so-called "godless com-
munists" (who, as demonstrated by Taraki's statements, were actually
sensitive to Islamic customs), were not the first to try to tackle sexual
relations. The major Afghan reformer, Amanullah Khan, introduced a
48 Revolution,the State, Islam, and Women

family code in 1921 which outlawed child marriage and intermarriage

between close kin as contrary to Islamic principles. One scholar writes
that in the new code Amanullah reiterated the ruling of his father Abdur
Rahman (a previous and unsuccessful reformer) that a widow was to be
free of the domination of her husband's family, placed tight restrictions
on wedding expenses, including dowries, and granted wives the right to
appeal to the courts if their husbands did not adhere to Quranic tenets
regarding marriage. In the fall of 1924, "Afghan girls were given the
right to choose their husbands, a measure that incensed the traditionalist
As for the fate of King Amanullah, he was deposed in a 1929 tribal
rebellion organized by the British. His successor, Habibullah Ghazi, in-
sisted that to restore the sanctity of Islam and the honor of the nation,
women would have to be restored to seclusion under strict male control
and that girls schools, together with all other vestiges of the women's
movement, be suspended. For the next thirty years, that is, until 1959,
women remained in seclusion and wore the veil.35
Louis Dupree's 1973 study noted that a 1950 law banning "osten-
tatious life-crises ceremonies prohibits many of the expensive aspects of
birth, circumcision, marriage and burial rituals",36 while another scholar
notes that the marriage law of 1971 was a further attempt to curb the
indebtedness which arises from the costs of marriages which "Are a
burden for Afghan society as a whole.37 An Afghan who devoted his
1976 doctoral dissertation on matrimonial problems in Afghanistan
Excessiveexpenditurein marriageunderminesthehumandignityof womenas
it tendsto rendertheminto a kindof propertyof thehusbandor his family.[It]
weakensthefinancialstatusof thefamilyandtendsto bringor worsenpoverty.
[It] tendsto renderthe adultshighlydependenton familyresources;thisin turn
weakenstheirpositioninregardto theexerciseof theirrightof consentinmarriage
as well as theirfreedomof choiceof a life partner.
The author continues:
Dependenceof theyouthon thefamilyresourcesis enormouseven withoutthe
stimulusof this additionalfactor.Marriagebecomes largelydependenton the
possessionof financialmeans;thisleadsto intolerablediscriminationsagainstthe
poor.Excessiveexpenditure in marriagedeprivesmanyof therighttomany (e.g.,
many women);it also leads to late marriages,and often bringsabouta wide
disparityof age between the spouses. Excessive expenditurein marriage
constitutesa sourceof embittermentand conflictduringthe courseof marital
life...costlymarriagescontributeto thecontinuanceof thetradition-bound
andtendto slow down theprocessof reform...Thepracticeis self-perpetuating.
The point of all this is to show that the PDPA were not the first to
tangle with traditionalists or attempt to institute reforms. The PDPA has
been accused of being "alien" but this is a fallacious argument. In ac-
tual fact the PDPA was part of a tradition of reform, so to speak, that
began at least as early as the reform and modern movement that started
49 ValMoghadam

elsewhere in the Islamic Middle East. For example, the Afghans have
their own equivalentof Qassim Amin (the famous North African male
feminist): MahmudBeg Tarzi (1865-1933). Moreover,what the PDPA
tried to do was not arbitraryor motivatedby an alien and inappropriate
ideology (as some have argued);rather, they tried to deal with real
problems that social scientists and previous reformershad recognized.
These problems had to do with the chronic indebtedness of the
countryside, and the exchange of women-what Monique Wittig has
called "the vile and precious merchandise."39

The Exchange of Women and the Concept of Honor

In describingcustoms among the DurraniPashtunsof north-centralAf-
ghanistan, anthropologistNancy Tapper writes: "The members of the
communitydiscuss control of all resources-especially labor, land, and
women-in terms of honor.40Note that "community"is the community
of men; this is not a gender-egalitarian society. Women are given for
bride-price or in compensation blood, and this "maintainsa status
hierarchy"among the households.Anthropologistshave theorizedthe ex-
change system and the differentialvalues given to four rankedspheres
of exchange;here I will mention two. Men are rankedin the first and
highest sphere. Direct exchanges between them include the most
honorableand manly of all activities, and these activities are prime ex-
pressions of status equality: vengeance and feud, political supportand
hospitality,and the practice of sanctuary.Womenbelong to the second
sphere; they are often treatedexclusively as reproducersand pawns in
economic and political exchanges.There is only one properconversion
between the first two spheres: two or more women can be given in
compensationfor the killing or injuryof one man. (This is what befell
women in Iran with the introductionof the Law of Retribution,Qesas,
which I mentionedabove.) Mobility and migrationpatternsalso revolve
aroundthe brideprice.For example, men from one region will travel to
another to find inexpensive brides, while other men will travel else-
where because they can obtain a higher price for their daughters.41
Anthropologistshave noted interethnichostility among Afghans.
Similarly,TapperdescribesAfghan ethnic identity in terms of claims to
religiously privilegeddescent and superiorityto all other ethnic groups.
Interethniccompetitionextends to the absolute prohibitionon the mar-
riage of Durraniwomen to men who are of a "lower"ethnic status.
After describingthese relationsand practices,Tapperwrites: "any sub-
stantialalternationin the meaningof marriagewithin these groups (per-
haps by the implementation of marriage reforms) could lead to a
complete restructuringof ethnic relations."43Indeed.
The code of Afghan behavior among the Pushtuns,who comprise
over 50% of the population,has three core elements:Hospitality,refuge,
and revenge. Other values are equality, respect, pride, bravery,purdah
(seclusion of women), pursuitof romanticencounters,worship of God,
50 theState,Islam,andWomen

and devoted love for a friend.44(Clearlythese are male values.) Purdah

is a key element in protectionof the family's pride and honor. This
seclusion from the world outside the family walls (and here wall is
used literally, not symbolically) is customarilyjustified by invoking
Qoranicprescriptionand by the notion that women are basically licen-
tious and tempt men. Womenare regardedas men's property.Through
a combinationof pre-Islamicand Islamic customs, men exercise control
over women in two crucial institutions:marriageand property,as il-
lustrated by the institution of bride-price,the Pushtun prohibitionof
divorce (and this despite the Qoranicallowances,primarilyto the men),
and the taboo of land ownershipfor women (again contraryto Islamic
law and the actual practice in many other Muslim countries).Women
are regardedas subordinatesdependenton their husbands,as furtherex-
emplified by women never asking men their whereaboutsor expecting
marital fidelity. Women are expected to give all the meat, choicest
delicacies, and clothing to their husbands.45CatherineMacKinnon'sdark
vision of Western society, with her notion of male domination and
forced sex, seems an apt descriptionof traditionalAfghan gender roles,
ratherthan of the advancedindustrialsocieties to which she refers.46
Howard-Merriam notes that since a woman's standingis maintained
primarilythroughbearingsons for the continuationof the family she, of
course must marry,for only throughmarriagecan one's basic needs be
legitimatelyfulfilled. The choice of husbandis made by her family with
its own concernsof lineage maintenanceor gain and property.The best
she can hope for is a handsomeand kind cousin or close relative she
has known and with whom she has grown up. The worst is an old man
from anothervillage whom she has never seen and who is unkind.In
either case he is obliged to provide for her materiallyand, it is to be
hoped, father her sons who will endow her with status in her new
home. If the husbandtreats her unbearablyshe does have recourse to
breakingout and returningto her own family or seeking refuge with
another family. This weapon is not used often, however, as her natal
family has given up rights to her throughthe customarybride-priceat
the time of marriage. Such were the practices that concerned the

Women PDPA Reformers

The emphasison women's rights on the part of the PDPAreflected:(a)
their socialist/Marxistideology, (b) their modernizingand egalitarian
orientation,(c) their social base and origins: urbanmiddle-class,profes-
sionals, educatedin the U.S. and Westernand EasternEurope, (d) the
numberand position of women within the PDPA.
Unlike the Islamic regime in Iran, the PDPAgovernmentincludeda
numberof women who were both a productof the reform movement
mentionedabove (that is, the beneficiariesof educationand employment
policies) and eager for more profoundchange, especially in the forbid-
51 ValMoghadam

den area of family law or personal status. The history of Dr. Anahita
Ratebzad, the best known and most influential of the PDPA women of-
ficials, exemplifies the aspirations, opportunities, and constraints of this
stratum of women.
Anahita's mother was a nursemaid to a prince. This allowed Anahita
to attend girls' school, from which she graduated in 1945 (in those
days, after eight years of schooling). She then studied nursing in the
U.S., and upon her return to Afghanistan was both director and instruc-
tor of nursing at Kabul Women's Hospital. When the Faculty for
Women at Kabul University was established, she entered the medical
college and became a member of its teaching staff upon graduation in
1963. She joined the PDPA in 1965, and along with three other women
ran as candidates for parliament.48 This was the first time liberals and
Leftists had openly appeared in the political arena. What they were up
against, socially, was reaction to female visibility supported by conser-
vative members of parliament. In 1968 the latter proposed to enact a
law prohibiting Afghan girls from studying abroad. Hundreds of girls
demonstrated in opposition.49 In 1970 two reactionary mullahs protested
such public evidence of female liberation as miniskirts, women teachers,
and schoolgirls by shooting at the legs of women in Western dress and
splashing them with acid. Among those who joined in this action was
Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, one of the current Mujahideen leaders, the
favorite of Zia ul-Haq and the Reagan administration because of his
rabid anti-communism. This time there was a protest demonstration of
5,000 girls.50 For comparative purposes, I should say that such open
protests by women were not to be found in Iran, where "politics" were
at any rate not allowed in the Pahlavi state, and where liberal and left-
wing parties were non-existent, banned and in exile at that time.
Anahita Ratebzad was elected to the central committee of the PDPA
in 1976. After the Saur Revolution, she was elected to the Revolution-
ary Council of the DRA and appointed Minister of Social Affairs. Other
influential PDPA women in the Taraki government (April 1978-Septem-
ber 1979) were Sultana Umayd, Director of Kabul Girls' School;
Surarya, president of the Democratic Organization of Afghan Women;
Ruhafza Kamyar, principal of the DOAW's Vocational High School;
Firouza, director of the Afghan Red Crescent (Red Cross; Dilara Mark,
principal of the Amana Fidawa School; Professor Mrs. R.S. Siddiqui
(who was especially outspoken in her criticism of "feudalistic patriar-
chal relations"). In the Amin government (September-December 1979),
the following women headed schools and the women's organization, as
well as sat on governmental subcommittees: Fawjiyah Shahsawari, Dr.
Aziza, Shirin Afzal, Alamat Tolqun.51
In her personal life, Anahita Ratebzad eventually rebelled against
the marriage she had been forced into (to a doctor, reportedly in com-
pensation for his bills). She became the lover of Babrak Karmal (later
President). By all accounts, Anahita Ratebzad was quite remarkable, ex-
52 theState,Islam,andWomen

tremely dedicated and very energetic-a "charismatic personality,"52an

effective speaker, organizer, and agitator.53 She was behind the editorial
in Kabul Times (5/28/78) which asserted: "Privileges which women, by
right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and
free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of this
country....Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close
government attention."54
It is important to note that what the PDPA was spearheading in the
late 1960s and throughout the 1970s (that is, before it came to power)
was a countercultural movement. Male party members were charged
with recruiting female relatives. Women members enlisted the coopera-
tion of their friends. Other women joined because of general dissatisfac-
tion, usually concerning male-female relations at home. The young were
particularly attracted by the prospect of loosening parental control. Party
gatherings were mixed, and provided an alternative to cloistered, fami-
ly-chaperoned outings. In addition, Parcham meetings presided over by
Anahita Ratebzad and Babrak Karmal were famous for ending in lively
disco parties.55 Again, comparatively, the PDPA seems more countercul-
tural, radical, and audacious than the Iranian communist and Leftist
groups, which were extremely serious, correct, puritanical, and indeed
grim. Even student supporters abroad took a dim view of dancing and
Western music. At least in the U.S., no one admitted to having sexual
relations outside or before marriage; relationships were discreet if not
secret. It was only after the Islamists came to power that I can recall
my associates drinking, dancing, and dating. Why the PDPA was more
radical on the women's question than was the Tudeh Party of Iran (and
the guerrilla organizations) is an intriguing question.

Divisions within the PDPA

Unfortunately, internal battles within the PDPA (especially between its
two wings, Parcham and Khalgh) and the government's increased
anxiety about the opposition to its reforms led to a reorganization of
personnel. Anahita Ratebzad was removed from her ministerial post and
appointed ambassador to Yugoslavia. (At this point her biography
sounds very similar to that of Alexandra Kollontai, which would make
for another interesting comparative study.)
In all events, following the Amin debacle (he deposed Taraki in
September 1979 and ruled rather ruthlessly until the Soviet intervention
in December 1979), Ratebzad returned to Kabul and was reappointed
state minister. The positions she held were minister of education, mem-
ber of Politburo, PDPA central committee, and Revolutionary Council
Presidium, head of the Afghan-Soviet Friendship Society, and the direc-
tor of the Peace, Solidarity and Friendship Organization.
What had happened in the meantime was that party attempts to ex-
tend literacy to rural girls had met with strong opposition. The govern-
ment had launched a "holy war against illiteracy," led by the Women's
53 ValMoghadam

Organization, which has been widely criticized for its heavy-handedness.

Three points regarding this. It should be noted that literacy campaigns
are common in or following popular revolutions and movements for na-
tional or social liberation: the Bolsheviks, Chinese, Cubans, Vietnamese,
Angolans, Palestinians, Eritreans, and Nicaraguans all have had exten-
sive literacy campaigns. (By contrast, a concerted literacy campaign was
not an essential part of the program of the Islamists in Iran.) Secondly,
the PDPA's rationale for pursuing the rural literacy campaign with some
zeal was that all previous reformers had made literacy a matter of
choice; male guardians had chosen not to allow their females to be edu-
cated; thus 99% of all Afghan women were illiterate. It was therefore
decided not to allow literacy to remain a matter of (men's) choice, but
rather a matter of principle and law. In response, recalcitrant refugees
poured into Pakistan in the summer of 1979, giving as their major
reason the forceful implementation of the literacy program among their
women. In the city of Kandahar, three literacy workers from the Or-
ganization of Afghan Women were killed as symbols of the unwanted
revolution.57 A third point is that state coercion to raise the status of
women has been undertaken elsewhere, notably Soviet Central Asia and
Turkey in the 1920s. And other governments have issued decrees which
have been resisted (e.g., emancipation of slaves in the U.S., state-or-
dered school segregation and forced busing more recently, and the peri-
odic attacks on Mormon polygamous units). This is not to condone the
use of force, but to point out that rights, reforms, and revolutions have
been effected coercively or attained through struggle.
However, it is true that the Amin period exacerbated the tensions
that had already emerged, and became increasingly authoritarianas well
as erratic. (Some studies have shown that Hafizullah Amin was
desperately trying to make deals with the U.S. and Pakistan if they
would only leave his regime alone.) The Soviets were requested several
times to intervene militarily. They were reluctant to do so, in part be-
cause they did not trust Amin, but no doubt also because the British
had such a rough time of it in the late 1800s. But when it became clear
that not only Amin but the whole PDPA effort was about the collapse
in the face of a Mujahideen holy war that was supported, financed, and
armed by Pakistan, China, the U.S., and the Islamic Republic of Iran,
and that calls were being made for the de-Sovietization and re-Islamiza-
tion of Soviet Central Asia (the Muslim republics), Soviet troops
entered in December 1979.58 The rest is very sad history, for all parties
In 1980 the PDPA slowed down its reform program and announced
its intention to eliminate illiteracy in the cities in seven years and in
the provinces in 10. In an interview in 1980, Anahita Ratebzad con-
ceded errors, "in particular the compulsory education of women," to
which she added, "the reactionary elements immediately made use of
these mistakes to spread discontent among the population.59
54 theState,Islam,andWomen

Despite the slowing down of reforms (including such concessions as

legally reinstituting Islamic family law-which, however, did not extend
to party members), the resistance movement spread. The Soviet occupa-
tion turned even high school girls against the government, and they
engaged in a number of street battles. The most reactionary aspects of
Afghan culture, those surrounding concepts of honor, manifested them-
selves in extreme ways. For example, in Kandahar, two men killed all
the women in their families to prevent them from "dishonor."60The
most fanatic attitudes toward women were brought to the surface, and
are rampant among the Mujahideen and within the refugee camps in
Peshawar. The most conservative groups call for the return of compul-
sory veiling and gender-segregated education. One writer sympathetically
recounts a personal communication from a young member of Hizb-i Is-
lami, a fundamentalist group, who explained that the group's insistence
on separate institutions, especially in work situations, was largely
economic: "You have seen it yourself, khanum [ma'am]. When there are
girls in the office, the men do not pay attention to their work. Much
time is lost. And time is money. We have so much to do. How can we
develop when so much time is lost?"6
Compare this with an infamous statement by the later Ayatollah
Morteza Motahhari of Iran: "Where would a man be more productive,
where he is studying in all-male institutions or where he is sitting next
to a girl whose skirt reveals her thighs? Which man can do more work,
he who is constantly exposed to arousing and exciting faces of made-up
women in the street, bazaar, office, or factory, or he who does not have
to face such sights?"62 What has been decried in the Iranian context is
explained away in the Afghan case.
Invited by Swedish socialists to Stockholm in 1985, Anahita Rateb-
zad argued eloquently that the main accomplishment of her party and
government had been in the field of women's rights. At the time,
another prominent PDPA woman official was Firouza, a Pushtun village
woman from Wardak. A widow, she joined the PDPA in 1984 and led
her Gulkhana village group of Defenders of the Revolution, made up of
fifty women. In 1986 she was made member of the Revolutionary
Council and alternate member of the PDPA central committee. She also
served, for two years, as president of the All-Afghan Women's Council
(the successor of the Democratic Organization of Afghan Women). She
was subsequently succeeded by Massuma Esmaty Wardak, who is not a
PDPA member. This reflects the policy of the current (Najibullah)
government, which has been trying since early 1987 to advance a pro-
gram for national reconciliation and form a coalition government. One
aspect of that policy has been to marginalize "hardliners" within the
PDPA; consequently Dr. Anahita Ratebzad was dropped from the polit-
buro in June 1987.
55 ValMoghadam

How the Other Half Exists: Women in the Refugee Camps

Women's separateness and invisibility from the public world outside the
home characterize Afghan traditional society. This has been reinforced
in the refugee camps in Peshawar, where women's seclusion has been
A 1982 ILO study of Afghan refugees in Peshawar drily states that

the influenceof both Islam and traditionalcodes is pervasiveand has many

ramificationsandimplicationsfor our work.Likewise,the role andpositionof
women andthe divisionof workin the householdamongthe differentAfghan
tribes,have definedthe limitsof whatis feasibleandacceptablefor schemesfor
In the section on family organization, the report notes
thepracticeof femaleseclusion,beliefin thedefenceof thehonorof women,and
a well-developeddivisionof laborwithinthe familyon thebasisof age andsex.
The emphasison manhoodandits associationwith strengthis pervasiveandwe
were told in one campthateven old men were expectedto remainout of sight
alongwiththewomenandchildren...Men assumeresponsibilityforrelationships
andtasksoutsidethefamilycompoundincludingpurchaseandsaleof subsistence
itemsfromthemarket(i.e.,monetarytransactions), production,house
construction,wagelaborandmaintainingsocialandpoliticalrelationships outside
the immediate family (including attendanceat educational and religious
institutions).Where"contactwith outsiders"is concemed,thereareuniversal
constraintson participationof women...puberty defines adulthoodfor women,
andearlymarriageis common.6
One writer avers that purdah is supported
not only by men for theirown religiouslyattributed
reasonsof socialcontrolbut
also by womenwho view it as a convenientexcusefornot performingtiresome
tasks..purdahprovidesthe opportunityforpreservingone's own identityanda
certainstabilityin thefaceof extemalpressures...Westemers
to impose theirown ethnocentricperceptionsshould note the value of this
seeminglyanachronistic customfor a peopleundersiege whose verysurvivalis
at stake.
In the refugee camps in Peshawar, food distribution reflects the
secondary status of women and the role women's honor plays: women
do not go to the marketplace if there is a male relative in the extended
family. As a result, women heading households are not as likely to
receive their fair share from the men. Indeed, this is evidenced by in-
cidence of anemia among the adult female population.66 (Such dis-
parities have not been noted among refugee populations of Eritreans and
According to Howard-Merriam, who spoke with women in the
Peshawar refugee camps: "As beings set apart and excluded from the
public, women are united in their hostility toward men as 'bad, ugly
and cruel."' Women's low level of expectation, the writer continues,
56 theState,Islam,andWomen

stands in contrast to the "men's higher and often unrealisticones of

world conquest...."67Nonetheless, this same writer can justify the in-
visibility and isolationof Afghanwomen as a functionalrequisiteof the
"resistance." She avers that "the Mujahideen (holy warrior) leaders
recognize women's importanceto the jihad (or holy war) with their ex-
hortationsto preservewomen's honor throughthe continuedpracticeof
seclusion. The reinforcementof this tradition, most Westernershave
failed to notice, serves to strengthenthe men's will to resist."68
Education for girls is contested terrain.Universal literacy was a
priority for the PDPA, and its was precisely female literacy that of-
fended the sensibility of fundamentalists. In the refugee camps in
Peshawar,administeredby the United National High Commissionerfor
Refugees (UNHCR), girls and women are denied education and even
health care. Surprisingly,UN officials have acquiescedto Afghan male
resistanceto teaching girls. Thus 104,600 boys are enrolled in UN-run
camp schools, as against 7,800 girls. The disproportionis greatest in
middle schools and high schools, becausemost Afghanmen considerten
or eleven years the thresholdthat girls should not cross in education.6
The UN runs 161 middle schools for boys and two for girls. All four
high schools are for boys only. At the primarylevel, there are 486
boys' schools and 76 for girls. Boys go to school for as long as pos-
sible, while girls leave at age ten or eleven to weave carpets. A male
Afghan principalis quotedas saying: "I don't think it's bad for women
to become doctors (presumablyso that women might receive medical
treatment), but it's better to weave carpets. They can start earning
money from a very young age. ? No doubt this is regardednot as ex-
ploitationbut as "complementarity."
In health care, too, the UNHCR has encounteredcontinuedresis-
tance to the extensionof services to women. Afghanmales do not allow
male medical workersto attend women and are reluctanteven to allow
women to leave their houses or get treatmentfrom female doctors or
assistants. Medicins Sans Frontiers,a French medical group that was
very pro-Mujahideen,eventuallyexpressedexasperationat Afghan male
authority.A French woman doctor is quoted as saying, "We have to
fight with the men to take women to a hospital when necessary."7lAs
a result, Afghan refugee women suffer from ill-health, isolation,
boredom,and depression.
In Peshawar, the great majority of the refugees are women,
children, and elderly males who cannot participatein guerrillaopera-
tions inside Afghanistan.Almost three-quarters of the refugee households
are headed by women. The women's immobilityis exacerbatedby the
Pakistan authorities' stipulation that the refugees must remain in the
refugee villages to qualify for monthlystipends.So while the men fight
their war for Islam, tradition,and honor, the women stagnate in the
refugee camps.
57 ValMoghadam

In sharp contrast is the situation for women within Afghanistan,

especially the cities, where the government has more control. According
to the magazine Afghanistan Today, there are 440,000 female students in
the country's education institutions. The total number of Afghan female
professors and teachers is 190 and 11,000 respectively. About 80,000
women are enrolled in literary courses in various institutions and
residential areas. Since 1978 the total number of Afghan working
women has grown fifty times and has reached 245,000.72 Photos of un-
veiled Afghan women in the streets of Kabul, and female students at
the University of Kabul in Western dress, offer a dramatic contrast to
the sad seclusion and heavy veiling of women in Peshawar. The photos
stand in sharp contrast to the Iranian women in hejab. Massuma Esmaty
Wardak, who has been in charge of the Women's Council since June
1987 is quoted as saying, "We hope Iran will never come to Afghanis-
In a recent paper, Nancy Hatch Dupree, who has studied Afghan
women, expresses the hope that women will be allowed to take part in
reconstruction in "post-jihad" Afghanistan.7 She notes that women are
afraid of the "nasty attitudes (that) have emerged during the last ten
years" among young men, and fear being "cooped up like a lot of
chickens." In a community that traditionally values strength and youth,
women who are handicapped or paraplegic due to the war are invariably
set aside by husbands who take other wives. (It can be safely assumed
that women do not leave their handicapped husbands.) Dupree recog-
nizes the importance of purdah and expresses the hope that "separate
but equal strategies and institutions" can be designed. This raises an
interesting question: can "post-jihad" Afghanistan escape the Bantu-style
education that has historically ensued from "separate-but-equal"policies,
or is Dupree (and others who oppose the PDPA and support the
Mujahideen) whistling in the dark?

Concluding Remarks
The comparative study of the fate of women following political change
in Iran and Afghanistan suggests that a broad-based and popular social
revolution in which women passively participate (Iran) does not predict
an enhancement of the status of women. Conversely, a "minority
government" may institute genuine reform in the direction of women's
emancipation. Level of economic development is insufficient to explain
or predict women's status. What is key is the program of the revolu-
tionary leadership and of the new state. But while state action is central
to understanding women's status, the two cases also point to domestic
and international constraints faced by states: war, popular resistance,
weak central authority, disagreements within the ruling group. Both
states have had to modify their original program on women. In Iran, the
"domestication" of women is no longer exhorted by the authorities, and
women are active in public life, but the ruling on hejab has not altered.
58 Revolution,the State, Islam, and Women

In Afghanistan, the abolition of the bride-price has been quietly shelved

and at any rate ignored by the populace, but the education of girls as
government policy continues apace.
It is remarkable that the subversion of a government which was un-
dertaking wide-reaching and progressive social reforms, especially
toward the emancipation of women, should have been encouraged (and
financed) by the U.S. and China, both ostensibly committed to women's
equality. As for Western intellectual supporters of the Afghan
Mujahideen, it seems to me that attempts to explain away the rather
extreme forms of patriarchy existing among the Mujahideen and in
traditional communities by recourse to a vague cultural relativism are
suspect. For one thing, the cultural relativist argument has not been ap-
plied to Iran, which has been judged by Western, or universal, standards
and norms. For another thing, there is nothing acceptable or "natural"
about ethnic, gender, or class oppression. It is entirely appropriate to
interrogate an exclusivist, ethnocentric cultural nationalism which oc-
cludes important questions about class, gender, ethnicity, and property.
Finally, the comparative study of Iran and Afghanistan illustrates the
problematical nature of "Islamic gender relations." What needs to be
faced squarely is that Islamic canon law regulating personal and family
life is inimical to women's emancipation and autonomy. Political groups
that are keen to bring about liberatory social change but are otherwise
silent about women's personal rights are merely engaged in a

1.Intheirprolificwritings,thefollowingAfghanscholarshaveunderscored thesalience
of Islamandsuggestedthata criticismof politicalIslamis eurocentric:
Roy,LouisDupree,NancyTapper, NazifShahrani, MyronWeiner.
2. ThedaSkocpol,"Rentier StateandShiaIslamin theIranianRevolution,"Theoryand
Society, May 1982
in Afghanistan,"
3. FredHalliday,"Revolution
"Warand Revolutionin Afghanistan," New Left Review119 (Jan-Feb.1980). Selig
Harrison,'The Shah,Not Kremlin,Touchedoff AfghanCoup,"Washington Post,May
13, 1979.DavidGibbs,"Doesthe USSRHavea 'GrandStrategy'?Reinterpreting the
Journalof PeaceResearch,vol. 24, no. 4, 1987,pp.365-379.
Invasionof Afghanistan,"
See alsotheaccountby LouisDupree,"TheMarxistRegimesandtheirSovietPresencein
Afghanistan:An Ages-OldCultureRespondsto Late20thCenturyAggression," ch.2 in
M. Nazif Shahraniand RobertCanfield,eds., Revolutionsand Rebellionsin Afghanistan:
Berkeley,CA:Inst.of Int'lAffairs,UC-Berkeley,
Anthropological 1984.
4. The Economist,The Worldin Figures 1981.
5. Ibid.
6. RichardNyropandDonaldSeekings,eds.,Afghanistan: A CountryStudy(Foreign
AreaStudies,TheAmericanUniversity,Washington,DC, 1986),pp. 140-185.RichardS.
in ALiBanuaziziandMyron
in Afghanistan,"
Newell,'The ProspectsforState-Building
Weiner, eds., The State, Religion, and Ethnic Politics: Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan
Univ.Press,1986),p. 117.SeealsoDavidGibbs,'ThePeasantasCounterrevolu-
59 ValMoghadam

tionary:The RuralOriginsof theAfghanInsurgency,"Studiesin ComparativeInternation-

al Developmentvol. 21, no. 1, 1986, pp. 36-59.
7. This informationcomes from a confidentialpaper writtenby a UNDP official who
spent two yearsin Afghanistan.Cities have neverbeen as importantin Afghanistanas they
have been in the Middle East.Nyrop and Seekins (see note 6), p. 126.
8. Ibid.
9. ILO, Yearbookof Labor Statistics 1981, Table.
10. Nancy Hatch Dupree, "RevolutionaryRhetoric and Afghan Women,"in M. Nazif
Shahraniand RobertCanfield,eds., Revolutionsand Rebellions in Afghanistan(Univ. of
Calif., Berkeley:Instituteof Int'l Studies, 1984), p. 309.
11. On the Iraniansocial revolution,see the special issue of Race and Class (Summer
1979). On the coup d'etatandminoritygovernmentof Afghanistan,see M. Nazif Shahrani,
"Introduction:Marxist 'Revolution' and Islamic Resistance in Afghanistan,"in Shahrani
and Canfield,eds., Revolutionsand Rebellions in Afghanistan(op. cit.).
12. I have examinedthepopulistnatureof the movementin Iranin my forthcomingessay,
"One Revolution or Two? The IranianRevolution and the Islamic Republic,"Socialist
Register 1989, RalphMilliband,John Saville and Leo Panitch,eds.
13. AzarTabariandNahidYeganeh,eds.,In theShadowoflslam: The Women'sMovement
in Iran (London,Zed 1982); Val Moghadam,"Socialismor Anti-Imperialism?The Left
and Revolutionin Iran,"New LeftReview 166, Nov-Dec. 1987.
14. HooshangAmirahmadi,"MiddleClass Revolutionsin the ThirdWorldandIran,"in
H. Amirahmadiand M. Parvin,eds., Post-RevolutionaryIran (Boulder,CO: Westview,
15. Perry Anderson, "Modernity and Revolution," in Cary Nelson and Lawrence
Grossberg,eds., Marxismand the Interpretationof Culture(Univ. of Illinois Press, 1988);
GoranTherbomrn, TheIdeology of Power and thePower of Ideology (London:Verso,1980).
16. Ellen Kay Trimberger,RevolutionFromAbove: MilitaryBureaucratsand Develop-
ment in Japan, Turkey,Egyptand Peru (New Brunswick,NJ: TransactionBooks, 1978).
17. See RobertCanfield, "Ethnic,Regional and SectarianAlignments in Afghanistan,"
pp. 75-103 in BanuaziziandWeiner,eds., The State, Religion and EthnicPolitics (op. cit).
See also referencesin note no. 6.
18. Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyerand Theda Skocpol, eds., Bringing the State
Back In (CambridgeUniv. Press, 1985).
19. FredHalliday,The Makingof the Second Cold War(London,Verso, 1983).
20. J.P.Nettl, "The StateAs A ConceptualVariable,"WorldPolitics, 20 (1968).
21. On state-buildingandcentralizationin Iran,see, interalia, Nikki Keddie,"Religion,
EthnicMinoritiesand the State in Iran:An Overview";PatriciaHiggins, "MinorityState
Relationsin ContemporaryIran";ShahroughAkhavi,"StateFormationandConsolidation
in 20th CenturyIran:The Reza Shah Period and the Islamic Republic,"all in PartII of
BanuaziziandWeiner,The State, Religion and EthnicPolitics (op. cit).
22. See EqbalAhmad and RichardBamet, "Bloody Games,"The New Yorker,April 11,
23. ValMoghadam,"Women,WorkandIdeology in the Islamic Republic,"International
Journal of Middle East Studies, 20, May 1988, pp. 221-243.
24. F. Sanat Carr,"Feminismand Women Intellectuals"(in Persian)Nazm-e Novin, 8,
summer1987, pp. 56-85. This point has also been made by FatimaMemissi, inBeyond the
Veil:Male-FemaleDynamics in MuslimSociety (new edition, 1987).
25. FarahAzhari,Womenof Iran (NY:Comell Univ. Press, 1983); AzarTabariandNahid
Yeganeh,eds. (op. cit.); Guity Nashat, ed., Womenand Revolutionin Iran (Boulder,Co:
Westview, 1983).
26. The term "gharbzadegi"comes from an essay of the same name by the late Iranian
populistwriter,JalalAl-e Ahmad.
60 Revolution,the State, Islam, and Women

27. Safaii-Farahani,Whata RevolutionaryShouldKnow (Tehran,1972, in Persian).The

passage also reveals the author'spopulism.
28. Kaveh Afrasiabi,The State and Populism in Iran, unpublisheddoctoraldissertation,
Dept. of Political Science, Boston University,1987, p. 307.
29. NayerehTohidi.
30. Quotedin Nancy Tapper,"CausesandConsequencesof the Abolitionof Bride-Price
in Afghanistan,"pp. 291-305 of ShahraniandCanfield(op. cit).
31. Ibid., p. 292.
32. The Economist,The Worldin Figures 1981.
33. Tapper,op. cit., p. 292
34. Tapper,p. 298-9. See also Nyrop and Seekings (note 6), pp. 120-122.
35. VartanGregorian,The Emergenceof ModernAfghanistan:Politics of Reformand
Modernization1880-1946 (Stanford:StanfordUniv. Press, 1969 anbd 1976).
36. Ibid. See also Nancy HatchDupree(op cit.), p. 308.
37. Louis Dupree,Afghanistan(PrincetonUniv. Press, 1973. ErikaKnabe,"Womenin
the Social Stratificationof Afghanistan"(1977), quotedin Tapper,p. 295.
38. Kemali, M.H., MatrimonialProblemsof Islamic law in ContemporaryAfghanistan.
UnpublishedPhD. dissertation,Universityof London.Cited in Tapper,(op. cit.).
39. Monique Wittig,cited in Gayle Rubin,"TheTrafficin Women:Notes on a Political
Economy of Sex," in RaynaReiter,ed. Towardan Anthropologyof Women(NY:Monthly
Review Press, 1975), p. 171.
40. Tapper,op. cit., p. 299. See also the section on "GenderRoles,"in Nyrop andSeekins
(note 8), pp. 126-128.
41. Tapper,op cit., p. 304.
42. Canfield,in BanuaziziandWeiner,op. cit., p. 89; Nyrop & Seekins,pp. 112-13. See
also RalphMagnus,'The PDPARegime in Afghanistan,"in PeterChelkowskiandRobert
Pranger,eds., Ideology and Power in the MiddleEast (Durham:Duke Univ. Press, 1988),
for a discussion of how the PDPA nationalitiespolicy sought to overcome interethnic
hostility and hierarchies.
43. Tapper,in ShahraniandCanfield,op. cit., p. 304.
44. Kathleen Howard-Merriam,"Afghan Refugee Women and their Struggle for Sur-
vival," in GrantFarrand JohnMerriam,eds., AfghanResistance:The Politics of Survival
(Boulderand London:Westview, 1987).
45. Ibid., p. 114.
46. CatharineA. MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified:Discourses on Life and Law
(HarvardUniv. Press, 1987).
47. Howard-Merriam, op. cit., p. 106.
48. Nancy HatchDupree,op. cit. p. 314.
49. Ibid., p. 309.
50. Ibid., p. 310.
51. Nancy HatchDupree,pp. 313-318
52. Ibid.,p. 316. Similarwords wereused by a UNDP official (personalcommunication,
April 1987).
53. RoseanneKlass, ed., Afghanistan:The GreatGameRevisited(NY: FreedomHouse,
1987), p. 427.
54. Quotedin Nancy HatchDupree,op. cit., p 316.
55. Nancy HatchDupree,op. cit., p. 319.
56. Klass, op. cit., p. 428.
57. Nancy HatchDupree,p. 333
58. On the Soviet intervention,see note 5 above.
59. Quotedin Nancy HatchDupree,p. 330.
60. Nancy HatchDupree,p. 333.
61 ValMoghadam

61. Ibid., p. 335

62. Quotedin Nashat, 1982, p. 204.
63. ILO Traditionand DynamismAmongAfghanRefugees,Geneva, 1982.
64. Ibid., p. 19.
65. Howard-Merriam, op. cit, p. 114.
66. Ibid., p. 116
67. Ibid., p. 117.
68. Ibid., p. 104.
69. HenryKamm,"Aid to Afghan Refugees Donors Bend the Rules,"New YorkTimes,
April2, 1988, p. A2.
70. Henry Kamm, "Afghan Refugee Women Suffering From Isolation Under Islamic
Custom,"New YorkTimes,March27, 1988.
71. Ibid.
72. "Leadinga New Life,"AfghanistanToday (Kabul),no. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1987.
73. David Ottaway,"KabulWomenShunVeils, See RebelThreatto Status,"Washington
Post, May 4, 1988, p. A25.
74. Nancy Hatch Dupree, 'The Role of Women in Post-JihadAfghanistan."Paper
presentedat the annualmeetingof the MiddleEastStudiesAssociation,Beverly Hills, CA,
Nov. 4, 1988.
75. Ibid.