We are building better prisons

to contain women who have had illicit sexual relations

abused prisonersabused prisoners

The Independent tells us that the two most common 'crimes' committed by women and girls are: escaping from home and illegal sexual relations. The first carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, the second 20. These are two of the most common accusations facing female prisoners in Afghanistan.

Two-thirds of the women in Lashkar Gah's medieval-looking jail have been convicted of illegal sexual relations, but most are simply rape victims – mirroring the situation nationwide. The system does not distinguish between those who have been attacked and those who have chosen to run off with a man. A female shura, or consultative council, was established in Helmand province last week to try to combat the injustice of treating an abused woman as a criminal, and not a victim.

British officers and Afghan government officials from the province's reconstruction team are also overseeing a project to build humane accommodation for the 400 male and female prisoners. Female "criminals" – the youngest is just 13 years old – along with their small children, who must stay with their mothers if no one else will claim them. Their only luxury is a carpet, two blankets, basic cooking facilities and two daily deliveries of bread.

They have neither medical care nor, as Colonel Ali acknowledged, "basic human facilities", such as washing areas, electricity and drinking water. All this he hopes will be rectified when the new building his finished."They are very aware of the inequality in the system," said Royal Navy Lieutenant Rebecca Parnell, a member of the Cimic, or civil-military co-operation, team. "The most refreshing thing is that there are plans coming from the Department of Women's Affairs. It is not just us pushing our ideas on to them."

So our forces are improving the lot of Afghan women who have been imprisoned because they have been raped yet we are not insisting that these women be released as a condition for our help. I suppose we are making allowances for their 'culture.'
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Billions have been poured into Afghanistan and many lives have been lost and ruined. Apart from our politicians, few believe that this war is to keep us safe in our beds. We are told that people in Afghanistan are cheerful and mostly safe and that lots of girls go to school, also that 27% of Afghan MPs are women compared to 19.5% of MPs in the UK. The difference is that most Afghan female MPs have been elected by the men under the Constitution - only 17 are elected in their own right. Most must be fairly docile or hardline. Those that speak out live under threat of death. See here. Malalai Joya tells us that: In Herat province, 104 women burned themselves in the Central Hospital. According to an official survey, 80% of marriages in Afghanistan are forced, and 95% of women in the country suffer from depression.

Afghanistan is a key part of the pipeline politics of Central Asia, the new Great Game. Georgia is another key energy hub and we seem to have made a mess of this too. Who's in charge - the UN, NATO, Sarkozy and the EU? Do they talk to each other?

In the meantime billions of our taxes are to go so Gordon and the EU can tilt at windmills to save the world from destruction.

Has anyone calculated the carbon footprint of our wars?