As he did in Thursday night’s debate, President Bush repeatedly refers to the number of people registering to vote in Afghanistan for the October 9 Afghan presidential election. Bush said, “Ten million citizens have registered to vote…Forty-one percent of those 10 million are women.” The Feminist Majority is closely following the election process and is now trying to get out the real story of what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan.
In August, the Taliban stepped up its attacks and threats against women, presidential candidates, voters, and aid workers in an attempt to disrupt the elections. Extremist militias are also targeting women and the election. Four women election workers have been killed and ten wounded. Members of the Taliban have been present at registration polls and have been threatening women as they approach to register. Massooda Jalal, the only female candidate running for President, has reported that she has been a target of intimidation and has received death threats as a result of her candidacy.
The violence and intimidation are having a serious impact on the number of women registering to vote as the UN estimates that only 19% of the registered voters in southern Afghanistan are women due to a lack of security. Reports from on the ground reflect that there are areas of the country where not a single woman has registered. The registration process is seriously flawed. Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged that the same individuals are registering over and over again. Underage boys are also registering.
The 10 million reportedly registered to vote is greater than previous UN estimates of the number of eligible voters in the country.