SARAH VINE: Biden's troop withdrawal is the most anti-women of acts

SARAH VINE: Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan is the single most anti-women act a leader can commit

As the successor to Donald ‘grab-them-by-the-pussy’ Trump, President Joe Biden has always been keen to emphasise his support of women’s rights.

He has, of course, a female Vice- President in Kamala Harris and is, we are told, committed to ‘an aggressive and comprehensive plan to further women’s economic and physical security and ensure that women can fully exercise their civil rights’.

His team is working hard ‘to end violence against women’, continuing his ‘leadership on this issue since he authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994’ and, last but not least, passionate about the need to ‘protect and empower women around the world’.

Fine words indeed. There’s just one small problem. It’s all a pack of lies.

Because when it comes to all of the above, Mr Biden’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan is the single most anti-women act he could have conceived. 

Also, far worse and on a far greater scale than anything Trump ever did.

As the successor to Donald ‘grab-them-by-the-pussy’ Trump, President Joe Biden has always been keen to emphasise his support of women’s rights

By withdrawing America’s peace-keeping forces and abandoning the country to the Taliban’s oppression and extremism, Mr Biden has condemned the women and girls of Afghanistan to a living nightmare that will strip them of their human rights, subject them to acts of unspeakable violence – and deprive them of the right to work, study or live as equals.

Afghan women and girls now face the same horrors perpetrated against the Yazidi women in Syria – raped and tortured and held as sex slaves for Islamist ‘warriors’ – or like Malala Yousafzai (who won a Nobel Prize after being shot in the head by the Pakistan Taliban for daring to go to school). What stood between women and the brutality of extreme Islam is fleeing the country – and the misogynistic violence is rising like foetid flood water.

As the self-styled soldiers of this medieval cult seize control of ever more towns and villages – they now hold half of the country’s 24 provincial capitals – women are already being forced to submit to their draconian laws or face the consequences.

As the self-styled soldiers of this medieval cult seize control of ever more towns and villages – they now hold half of the country’s 24 provincial capitals – women are already being forced to submit to their draconian laws or face the consequences

Early last month, for example, Taliban fighters walked into the offices of Aziz Bank in Kandahar and ordered nine female employees to leave.

They were escorted home at gunpoint, and told that male relatives could take their roles. Elsewhere, there have been reports of a mother having her eyes gouged out in front of her family, and of girls as young as 12 being carted off as ‘wives’.

As a former MP for Kabul, Shukria Barakzai, who was targeted by the Taliban in 2014 and almost died in a suicide bomb attack, put it, the country faces a return to the dark days of the late 1990s, when ‘one by one, our rights – to education, to a job, to a social presence – were all but eliminated’.

So much for Mr Biden and his commitment to women.

As for Boris Johnson, he justifies our withdrawal by saying there ‘isn’t a military solution’ in Afghanistan. But there never was. The Allied forces being in Afghanistan was never about Western occupation; it was about holding back the tide of extremism – a worthwhile and, until recently, broadly effective task – so that the people of Afghanistan weren’t forced to live under extreme religious laws.

Laws that, as Barakzai put it so succinctly, reduce women and girls to ‘little more than chattels’.

As the mother of a vibrant 18-year-old with her whole life ahead of her, I cannot imagine how it must feel to see your daughter deprived of an education, prevented from working and forced to bow to the misogynist will of a group of religious fanatics. I dare say I’d lay down my life to prevent it, and so, I suspect, would many other women of my generation.

As leader of the Free World, Mr Biden is the one person who has the power to halt this abuse. But he won’t because, ultimately, he’d rather spend his time virtue-signalling about trans rights and BLM than stand up for the rights of a poor 12-year-old girl forced into marriage in some dust-bowl on the other side of the world.

The more that Prince Andrew hides behind the Royal skirts, as it were, the worse his position will get. As he says he’s innocent, surely he ought to co-operate with his accuser’s lawyers and put an end to this saga. Until he does, the shadow of doubt will always hang over him and his family. Andrew, sometimes you have to take one for the team.

Further proof that the fashion industry is perverse: the super-tight bodycon dress is back. Just what we need after 18 months in lockdown…

Another drama series based on Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings is set to filmed, this time, it is said, in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon’s realm as Mordor – how fitting!

There is absolutely no need for vaccinated tourists returning home to the UK to undergo overpriced PCR tests administered by Covid profiteers. The cost is stopping families, in desperate need of a break, from going on holiday abroad. If the Government doesn’t want travel to become the preserve of the rich, it must change the system.

A lesson in confusion 

Any parent knows that children love to dress up and try different identities – be it a fireman, fairy or tree. So it’s deeply worrying that new guidelines in Scotland say children as young as four will be able to change gender at school – without teachers having to tell their parents. Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says the guidance isn’t prescriptive and ‘does not promote transitioning’. Maybe. But it’s bound to lead to some very confused young people.

After 13 years, the father of Britney Spears is finally letting her make her own decisions. Having watched the behaviour of the troubled singer, left, on social media, I suspect his fears about her ‘addiction and mental health’ are justified. That said, it’s good she’s no longer enslaved by a court order – as long as she’s not guided by sycophants and freeloaders.

The bell has tolled for landline telephones. This is sold as ‘progress’ but I feel it’s a retrograde step.

Those in rural areas with a poor mobile signal are always vulnerable to being cut off when they call the emergency services. Yet another example of lives being risked for the sake of corporate profit.

I couldn’t help but weep at the pictures of the dad and his adopted three-year-old daughter who were murdered by the Plymouth gunman. Why do bad things happen to the best of people? How on earth, too, was a man allowed a gun licence when his crazed, daily online activities were well known? Meanwhile, police are busy prosecuting people for misgendering someone on Twitter.

I’m not a massive fan of Strictly, but now that Olympic gold medal swimmer Adam Peaty and Britain’s answer to George Clooney, actor Greg Wise, have been confirmed as contestants, I might just be persuaded. Bring on those satin shirts!

The performances of Una Stubbs, who died last week aged 84, were among the very best things on telly

I wish Una would go on forever 

The performances of Una Stubbs, who died last week aged 84, were among the very best things on telly. As Sherlock Holmes’ long-suffering landlady, she infused the role with mystery and mischief. Holmes himself says: ‘Mrs Hudson leave Baker Street? England would fall.’ There are people you wish could live for ever – and Una was one of them.

Drones are to be used to spot potholes as part of a £15 million scheme to improve roads. Seriously? It sounds to me like boys’ toys for civil servants.

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